Making the perfect cup of English tea is an art that needs practice and the practice can be real fun! The first essential is to choose the appropriate teapot in which the tea will brew. Avoid the use of stainless steel pots for this since they lose heat rapidly and impart a metallic taste to the tea. Bone china is the material of choice, since it retains heat during the brewing process without flavouring the tea. The next step is to use fresh tap water from the cold tap – warm or tepid water again affects the taste.
Many people argue the merits of using tea over tea bags, but it really does not matter as long as the tea is of sufficient quality. Pick from the best selling English brands of breakfast tea and you won’t go far wrong. Place the tea or teabags in the teapot and start to boil the water. Use 3 or 4 teabags or the equivalent amount of tea, and a normal kettle. Don’t be tempted to try one of the new “one cup” devices which boil water almost instantaneously since they don’t get the water anywhere near hot enough.
The single largest argument in the UK concerning tea is the debate over when the milk is placed in the cup – before or after the hot tea? The argument appears to divide the country like no other. Most Northern people insist that the milk should go in first and Southerners are equally insistent that it should go in last.
Technically the tea brews better in boiling water so the preference should be for the milk to go in last. Once the water is boiling, pour it directly into the teapot, stir briefly and replace the lid. Always make sure that the water is actually boiling before pouring. The brewing process will then commence and this will take a few minutes depending on the strength of tea required.
Pour the tea when ready, filling the cup so that about a centimetre remains above the water level. Now pour in the milk. The best milk to use is semi-skimmed. Full cream milk tends to be a little high in fat content and skimmed milk is too watery. Stir the resultant mix thoroughly and add normal white cane sugar to taste. That’s it – the perfect cup of English tea, a drink that really cannot be beaten, particularly first thing in the morning.
- The perfect cup – Twinings of London – 300 years of expertise
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- 9 Essential Rules For Making The Perfect Cup Of Tea – BuzzFeed