Here’s all you need to know about the ‘right’ way to make tea. No ceremony necessary. Read on…
Here is a simple digest of what works.
- Fill the kettle with fresh water from the tap. Yes, your grandmother was right: water that has been boiled already will affect the taste of the tea.
- As it approaches the boil, warm the teapot by rinsing it out with hot water.
- Treat the teapot to one rounded teaspoon (yes, or caddy spoon) of tea leaves for each person and one extra spoonful ‘for the pot’. That’s the orthodox rule, though many these days find it a little strong. You’re in charge here.
- Just before the kettle water boils, pour into the pot. It doesn’t need to be stirred.
- Leave to infuse for three to five minutes, depending on taste. Serve, using a tea strainer.
If making tea in a cup with a tea infuser or tea strainer , the same rule applies – one spoon of tea, use water just off the boil and infuse for 3-5 minutes.
If making tea using tea bags, use 1 bag for 2 cups of water, use water just off the boil and steep for 3-5 minutes. Remove the bags or tea will be very strong.
Good to have a few tea making essentials, such a sturdy strainer and the ever important teapot.
Milk in first or last?
Having said that, there is a good reason for adding the milk last – if you are drinking an unfamiliar tea, it is easier to judge the correct amount of milk to add once you have seen the strength and colour of the tea. On the other hand, putting the milk in first means that the fat in the milk emulsifies in a different way when the tea is poured, which does change the flavour of the tea, giving it a more even, creamier flavour. It also cools the tea slightly to a more acceptable drinking temperature. So, now that the days when one’s social position was judged by this sort of thing are long gone, you may pour your tea however you choose. If anyone comments, send them to us. Visit Fortnum’s to purchase their excellent teas
Bits ‘N’ Pieces
The story I heard for adding milk to tea goes back 2-300 years when English pottery factories were attempting to copy the porcelain cups that came from China. A genuine Chinese cup could withstand any temperature, but if you poured hot tea from a pot into an English cup, it would crack. However, few people could afford genuine Chinese porcelain. The solution was to put a couple of teaspoons of cold milk into the cup first, then pour the hot tea onto the milk. This would reduce the heat shock on the cup and it would survive. Adding milk after you’d poured the tea meant you could afford the more expensive genuine porcelain, and hence was the start of the class divide that is supposed to surround the milk first/last issue. No idea if this is true or just a myth…
Milk in the cup first or after the tea is in the cup? The aristocracy in the 1800’s used bone china tea cups, boiling water in first risked cracking the cups – only the barbarians with clay mugs did not. I wouldn’t risk cracking my Royal Albert tea set.
The idea of adding the milk first was started back when tea was served in fine china cups. The shock of boiling water caused the cups to break so the milk was put in first to take the instant shock of heat out of the tea. Also Just for the Americans, fruit teas are never served with milk and Earl Gray is served with fresh lemon. Loose tea should be strained but if its large loose tea, it’s not necessary but a very small splash of cold water will make the leaves sink to the bottom just as cold milk will.
“Builders Brew”, Brit tradesmen like their strong brew tea with milk and sugar. Builder’s brew with Earl Grey or English Breakfast is best.
DUNKING: Digestive biscuits are less sweet and perfect for dunking. The best dunking biscuit is actually a hobnob but. Chocolate digestive biscuit are very nice too. (American cookies are made to be dipped in cold milk or just by themselves. Especially Oreos and chocolate chip cookies.)
Hoi Polloi Tea Method: Make sure it’s in a nice big mug with a hearty handle. Boil the water, pour over the tea bag in the mug. Bash the tea bag around to get all of the good stuff out of it and then take the tea bag out. Use milk (whole or semi) added afterwards & sugar if desired. Yummy!
I am Canadian and my favorite is an orange pekoe flavour & aroma. I normally use tea bags & number one brand is Yorkshire Gold tea from UK (it is mind blowingly good!), Salada & Red Rose in Canada. Make in the tea pot after warming it, allow 1 bag per 2 cups of water, let it steep for 5 or 6 minutes, remove the bags and cover the pot with a quality Canadian made Dome Tea Cozy. Serve with milk & sugar or drink black… Delish & very refreshing.
I like Loose tea, too…so many flavours to choose from. Try this one: 3 parts Earl Grey blended with 1 part English Breakfast in a tea ball. Made in the pot after warming it, let it steep for 5 or 6 minutes, remove the tea ball and cover the pot with a quality tea cozy. Serve with or without milk & sugar. Delish!
A “proper” cuppa is NEVER made by placing a tea bag in a cup and pouring in boiled water. That’s how Americans and, increasingly, Canadians make tea. If time is an issue, it’s acceptable and along the same lines as instant coffee (ugh). It’ll do in a pinch, LOL.
Serious Tea Lovers would ever use teabags when real loose tea is available. Warm the teapot, put in one spoonful of tea per person and one for the pot, pour in boiling water and let it steep for two or three minutes – large leaf tea like Darjeeling needs slightly longer. Milk first or tea first ? Makes no difference to the taste but sugar ruins it.
My Aussie friend says the best tea in the world is Daintree from Australia. Visit a tea plantation to see what goes into teabags and you will never use one again.
Teapots & Cups: I like using a teapot that does not change the flavour of the tea. So, bone china, ceramic, stainless steel are some. The cup or mug should also be of a material that does not transfer its taste into my tea plus I like a thin-lipped cup or mug & not fussy as to brand, size or dollar value. I love shopping in the charity shops (value village, sally ann, benevolent stores) & go to the dishes & china shelves first to see if I can find a new teapot & cups of any size. These are what you will be served with in my home…
“We had a kettle; we let it leak:
Our not repairing made it worse.
We haven’t had any tea for a week…
The bottom is out of the Universe.”
― Rudyard Kipling,
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