How to make a good cup of tea

How to Make a Lovely Cup of Tea

How to make a good cup of tea

Both Britain and Ireland are nations of tea drinkers; we drink more than anyone (the Irish drink even more than the British). Amongst all those tea drinkers, everyone has an opinion on how to make a ‘proper’ cup of tea. What is a proper cup though will always be subjective, it is what one person likes and that is not always the same for everyone. I like mine strong, dark and unsweetened, other like it weak and sugary. There are however certain qualities apart from the strength which is paramount to making a cuppa right.

The Correct Tea to Use

How to make a good cup of tea

Tea comes from the plant Camellia Sinensis and depending on the post picking process, can become white, green or black tea. The first part of making a good cup will be using leaf tea (though in fairness, tea bags are much improved to what they once were).

Black tea is by far the tea most used for general everyday drinking, and it is that tea we are talking about here. Because of the health benefits of green tea, it is growing in popularity.

Please Boil the Water

How to make a good cup of tea

There is only one way that water will make a good cup of tea, and that is if it is boiling; not tepid, not kept warm in the kettle, never from the tap. No, the water must be boiling as you pour over the tea in the pot or even the bag in a cup.

Start by filling the kettle with fresh water (once boiled the taste will not be the same as fresh water) and bring to the boil.
Always warm the teapot with a little of the boiled water, swirl it around the pot and discard.

One teaspoon per Person and One for the Pot

How to make a good cup of tea

Place one tsp of fresh leaf tea per person plus one for the pot into the teapot.
Top up the teapot with the boiling water (do not allow the water to go off-the-boil or it will not be hot enough to brew the tea).
Leave to infuse for 3 – 4 minutes, no longer or it will develop a ‘stewed’ flavour.

Pour the Tea

How to make a good cup of tea

Pour the tea through a tea-strainer directly into clean teacups, China cups are one of the best to use, though why has never been proven; the tea just tastes better.

Milk in First or Tea in First?

Debate continues about whether to put milk in the cup before pouring or after. Originally milk was always poured into the cup before the tea to prevent the hot tea from cracking the bone china cups.
Tea experts agree with this tradition but also state; to pour milk into hot tea, alters the flavour of the tea.

The Right Teapot

How to make a good cup of tea

The right teapot for the perfect cuppa is a matter if personal preference either metal (all early teapots were solid silver, ornate vessels) or china.
A metal teapot will keep the tea hotter for longer but some feel that china keeps a finer flavour with no tainting from the metal.

The Perfect Cuppa

How to make a good cup of tea

Everyone has an opinion on the making of a perfect cup of tea it seems, whether the debate is milk-in-first-or-after, the length of time the tea needs to mash (steep), even the type of teapot in which to brew. Here are just three points of view from two professionals, and a writer. As you will see, they have a few points in common; use freshly boiled water, let the tea stand, add milk, the rest it seems is personal preference.

The Expert Opinion

How to make a good cup of tea

The Tea Expert’s Method

  • Warm the pot
    Whether using tea bags or leaf, a quick swirl of hot water means the cold doesn’t shock the tea.
  • Use a china teapot
    Why, because it is traditional and part of the ritual.
  • One per person and one for the pot
    Still, the golden rule when using a loose-leaf tea.
  • Freshly boiled water
    Boil the water fresh, (not reboiled) for good oxygen levels.
  • Stir
    Stirring the tea leaves or bags helps the tea to infuse.
  • The Time
    3 to 4 minutes is the time needed for optimum infusion.
  • Milk?
    Milk first or last is an age-old question. Originally milk first was to avoid cracking delicate china cups with hot tea but adding milk after is a good way to judge the strength of the tea. However, it is each to their own.

The Scientists Point of View

How to make a good cup of tea

Scientists at Northumbria’s School of Life Science have discovered that the key to the best tasting brew is to let it sit for six minutes before drinking. Allowing the tea to rest this way avoids it scolding as it has cooled to 140 F/60 C, apparently, the optimum temperatures for the flavors to flow. However, leave it 17 minutes and 30 seconds and the tea will be past its best.

Their conclusion was to add boiling water to a tea bag in a mug and leave for two minutes. Remove the bag, add the milk and leave for a further six minutes or until it reaches 140 F/60 C. Should the temperature drop below 113 F/45 C the flavors are destroyed.

Instructions for Perfect Cup of Tea for One

  • Add 1 cup/200 mL of freshly boiled water to your tea bag (in a mug)
  • Allow the tea bag to brew for 2 minutes
  • Remove the tea bag
  • Add 10 mL of milk
  • Wait 6 minutes before consumption for the cuppa to reach its optimum temperature of 140 F/60 C

And Finally. the Writers Point of View

How to make a good cup of tea

A musing, definitely ripe for debate, coming from George Orwell and first published in The Evening Standard, on January 12th, 1946. Tea at this time was still rationed but that doesn’t stop him and his dictates on strong tea. Otherwise, he has some valid points.

George Orwell’s Musings on Making a Cup of Tea:

  • Only Indian or Ceylon
  • Always in a teapot not urn
  • The pot should be warmed
  • The tea should be strong
  • Tea loose in the pot
  • Boiling water
  • Stir or shake the pot
  • Cylindrical cup
  • Non-creamy milk
  • Tea in the cup before milk
  • No sugar

Some of this information is extracted from the book, The Great Book of Tea published by Great Northern Books, Oct 2012

Tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world, after water. Americans consumed more than 80 billion servings of tea (3.6 billion gallons) in 2015, according to the Tea Association of the U.S.A.

However, despite this growth in popularity, most people are brewing it all wrong. It’s more than just “take tea, add hot water”—obtaining the full flavor potential of your tea is actually quite nuanced and complex. When a cup of tea is prepared, it can be one of the most flavorful beverages out there. These are the top misconceptions around brewing tea and what it takes to craft the perfect cup.

Common Brewing Methods

Easy is good, but good isn’t easy

The tea bag. It’s ubiquitous, especially in the Western world. The greatest benefit of the teabag is convenience: You place the bag in a cup of hot water—no measuring, no mess. However, this convenience comes at the expense of quality. The leaves are low-grade and “chopped,” and the packaging is not natural. Most tea bags are made of bleached paper and most “silk” tea bags are made of nylon, plastic, and polylactide, imparting chemicals into your morning cup of Earl Grey. With lower-quality leaves and chemical-laden tea bags, depth and quality of flavor are easily lost.

Tea infusers. A step up in quality, loose leaf tea infusers allow you to brew without filtering the leaves through artificial materials. This method allows for whole-leaf tea to expand — up to a point. These types of infusers still impede the free flow of water around the leaves, so the leaves are not exposed to the water consistently. The result is an inconsistent brew with an unbalanced flavor profile that often is weak and astringent.

What Makes the “Perfect” Cup?

Better as a whole. Crafting the perfect cup of tea is a dynamic union between two ingredients: water and tea leaves, and a blend of art and science. There are more than 200 major chemical compounds within each tea leaf that are responsible for delivering aroma and flavor, as well as bitterness and astringency. When tea is kept in its whole-leaf form, tea brewers have the opportunity to develop desirable compounds while suppressing ones they deem undesirable. However, when tea leaves are cut into small pieces, the flavor options and control tea drinkers have is dramatically reduced. This is why whole leaf tea is the first and most important element in making the perfect cup of tea.

When searching for loose, whole-leaf tea, make sure the tea isn’t scented, flavored or contains any added spices. Additives cover up the true taste and fragrance of tea, and chances are they are being used to mask low-quality leaves. Fine quality tea leaves might cost a bit more, but they also yield more servings of tea over multiple infusions. Therefore, the added upfront cost pays for itself a few cups down the road.

Clean water is good water. Equally important in the tea-making process is water. In the U.S., public water contains added fluoride and chloride to kill bacteria and strengthen teeth. Unfortunately, these chemicals also destroy the delicate flavors and aroma of tea, thus it’s best to use natural spring or filtered water.

Beyond these two ingredients, there are a number of key tools for your “tea kit” that will enable you to unlock the full potential of your tea, namely:

Scale: Get one. The tea industry perpetuates the misconception that measuring tea leaves in teaspoons is ideal, but 1 teaspoon of a balled oolong and 1 teaspoon of sencha are drastically different. The most accurate way to measure tea is by weight, so invest in a quality scale that measures down to one-tenth of a gram. I recommend starting with 5 grams of your favorite tea and adjusting the amount once you’ve established your baseline.

Tea vessel. This should ideally be made of glazed ceramic or glass, so as to not impart any flavors into the tea. It should also be large enough to provide space for the leaves and water to move freely to work their osmosis magic. If you own an electric kettle, ensure that it has temperature control settings for 70°, 80°, 90°, and 100°C or 158°, 176°, 194°, and 212°F.

Experiment, then experiment again. Beyond the right tools, tea making is about the process. For six months, I spent 60 to 90 minutes every day experimenting with tea making and took notes on everything I did to craft the perfect cup. Although you may not want to devote that kind of time to your daily cup, the point is that there is no substitute for taking your time and diving into the process. Remember that the instructions on the tea package are really broad generalizations so it’s ok not to follow them. Take notes about what you like and what you don’t like to be able to finetune your process. Here are some ideas that I’ve used in my experimentation the help with what you may be experiencing:

If you’re experiencing bitterness, adjust infusion time and temperature of the water. Over-steeped tea will taste bitter, so try shortening the length of time you leave the tea in the water in 30-second increments until you find the flavor you’re looking for. If the steeping time isn’t the problem, it may be that the water you’re using is too hot. Tea leaves are delicate, so putting them in water that’s too high a temperature can essentially burn them, resulting in a bitter taste. Lowering your water temperature by 10°Celsius may solve the bitterness problem.

If you’re experiencing acidity, reduce the number of leaves or cool your water. Too many leaves will produce an over-abundance of the properties that lead to astringency. Start by reducing the amount of tea in your infusions by 1/10 of a gram at a time until you’ve found your desired level of astringency. If altering the ratio of water to tea leaves doesn’t do the trick, your problem may be that the water is simply too hot. As with bitterness, start by lowering your water temperature 10°C.

If you’re experiencing a lack of flavor, add more tea leaves or reassess your water temperature. More leaves obviously lead to more flavor, but you also need to ensure the water is hot enough to actually extract those flavors. Try increasing the amount of tea leaves in increments of 1/10 of a gram until you achieve the flavor you want. If that doesn’t work, try raising your water temperature by 10°C or more.

Despite its prevalence, tea is a delicacy, and deserves to be treated as such. There are seemingly countless variations of leaves, flavors, and aromas that capture the flavor of the growing region, its history, and its culture. From Japanese green tea ceremonies to the British tradition of afternoon tea, these tiny leaves provide a unique lens into different corners of our world.

Tea’s true value rests in affording people the opportunity to connect with the earth and with each other. In my experience, the quest to brew the perfect cup of tea has added depth, meaning, and pleasure to the ritual of tea, and I hope it does the same for you.

Allen Han is the CEO and founder of Teforia, a digital infuser that makes the perfect cup of tea each time.

The tea you’ll find in stores is made up of dried and crushed leaves of the tea plant. When you put it in hot water, the compounds of those leaves are extracted, leaving you with a wide range of amazing flavors depending on which variety you choose.

“There are many varieties and they are grouped into five categories: black, white, green, oolong, and pu-erh. These all come from the same plant, but differ in how they’re processed or when they were picked,” Jackson says. “Each will have a different flavor and caffeine level. Tisanes are the technical term for teas that are not derived from the tea plant, such as herbal teas. Rooibos, or red bush tea, from South Africa is my favorite herbal tea.”

How to make the perfect cup of tea

1. Water quality

Tea is primarily made up of water. So if you’re using low-quality water, that means you’ll wind up with low-quality tea. “Hard water has minerals like calcium and magnesium that will react with tea’s flavor compounds and create a scum layer on the top of your tea,” Jackson says. Because of that, soft water or filtered water is best. “Fresh cold water has more dissolved oxygen, which will improve tea flavor extraction as well.”

2. Water temperature

Contrary to popular belief, the water temperature for tea isn’t one-size-fits-all. Jackson says different tea types have different ideal steeping temperatures. For instance, green and white teas will taste bitter if you use water that’s too hot. Here’s what she says about each.

  • Black tea: As soon as it reaches its boiling point, it’s good to go
  • Oolong: Steep at 190°F
  • Green and white teas: Steep at 180°F

3. Steep time

The time you steep your tea for—aka how long you let the water extract from the tea leaves—can make or break how it tastes. “The color comes off your tea bag quickly, but that doesn’t indicate that the flavor has been extracted,” Jackson says. “A minimum of three minutes is recommended for tea, but I have heard some tea scientists recommend a five-minute steep.”

While she says it can be hard to be patient, doing so won’t just give you a most robust flavor—it’ll also provide more health benefits. Aka very much worth the wait. “Longer steep times will extract more antioxidants,” she says. Not to mention, you’ll get more caffeine. Energy boost, here you come.

The best additives for your tea

While you can drink your tea plain, Jackson shared some of her favorite additives that can make your cup even tastier.

1. Milk

Milk is one of Jackson’s go-tos. “It’s one of my favorite things to add,” she says. “I usually add a splash of a plant-based option.”

2. Sweetener

If you like your tea on the sweeter side, just make sure to keep the flavor balanced. “Too much sugar will overpower the tea flavor, but I do enjoy some local honey in my tea,” she says.

3. Lemon

Lemon adds great flavor to everything—especially tea. “A squeeze of lemon can be great in a tea,” she says. “But don’t add lemon if you’re using milk. It will likely curdle.”

4. Collagen

Collagen is a beneficial addition to any cup of tea, too. “It’s a great way to get more protein in your diet and amino acids that may aid skin, nails, and hair growth,” Jackson says. There are even plant-based versions available, like Moon Juice Collagen Protect ($29).

The best tea kettles and infusers

Make your tea-brewing experience easy (and enjoyable!) with these tools.

1. Fellow Stagg EKG Electric Kettle, $169

How to make a good cup of tea

This sleek electric kettle has a temperature range between 135°F and 212°F, is easy to use, and looks amazing on your countertop.

2. Cup of Té Gold Perfect Steep Infuser, $15

How to make a good cup of tea

I mean. have you seen a prettier tea infuser? All you need to do is fill it with your loose tea, then rest it over your mug. The lid also doubles as a coaster for the strainer, allowing you to sip mess-free.

3. Hario Tea Kettle, $82

How to make a good cup of tea

If you’d rather have a tea kettle you can heat up on the stovetop, this one is a keeper. It also has an easy-to-pour gooseneck spout and a teak handle and knob.

Shop now: Hario Tea Kettle, $82

4. Chefman Digital Electric Glass Kettle, $80

How to make a good cup of tea

This electric option has a removable tea infuser in case you want to place loose-leaf or bagged teas directly into the kettle.

5. Kikkerland Tea Stick, $12

How to make a good cup of tea

This unique tea strainer is a fun—and aesthetically-pleasing—way to brew loose-leaf teas.

Shop now: Kikkerland Tea Stick, $12

6. HadinEEon Electric Kettle, $34

How to make a good cup of tea

This affordable electric kettle boils your water in around three minutes, has an auto shut-off, and a stainless steel interior.

7. SUSTEAS Stove Top Whistling Tea Kettle, $34

How to make a good cup of tea

If you prefer your tea kettle to whistle, this pretty stovetop option will do just that.

Try this tea recipe for better digestion:

For more healthy recipes and cooking ideas from our community, join Well+Good’s Cook With Us Facebook group.

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Published on October 3, 2017 by Helen 24 Comments
Last Updated on September 25, 2020

Taking a dash of care when making tea brings great rewards of flavour. Follow our six point plan for a great tasting cuppa.

How to make a good cup of tea

Tea is a drink of amazing versatile-ness. From a strong mug of robust “builder’s tea” served “NATO standard” (milk, two sugars) to refined china cups of delicate Earl Grey, there isn’t a situation where a cup of tea is out of place. The place where tea really hits the spot for Ed is in the middle of the night when he is sailing; there’s nothing like a large mug of piping hot, sweet, milky tea when surrounded by the sea and the stars. But it’s a common gripe that too few people know how to make a really good cup.

How to make a good cup of tea

The English Tea Shop sell a full range of teas, from herbal to green, white and a choice of two black teas – Earl Grey, and English Breakfast. The English Breakfast is grown in Sri Lanka, with a full bodied flavour that’s not overly tannic. Perfect as the name says for breakfast, but good at any time of day with a dash of milk and something like a slice of lemon cake.

The Earl Grey is delicately flavoured, and not overpowered by bergamot; I can imagine enjoying a china cup, maybe with a slice of lemon. Their teas are both organic and free trade, so tick all those boxes, which is something I really appreciate. These come in individually wrapped sachets, so keep their freshness and are also perfect for taking on your travels.

Other teas in the range are loose and supplied in pretty tins.

How to make a good cup of tea

For the perfect cup of either tea, follow these tips. Talking of which, I think it’s time to pop the kettle on.

How to make a good cup of tea How to make a good cup of tea How to make a good cup of tea

Accompaniments for your afternoon tea could include

Tried this recipe? If you try this recipe please tag #FussFreeFlavours on Instagram or Twitter. It is amazing for me when for me when you make one of my recipes and I really do love to see them. You can also share it on my Facebook page. Please pin this recipe to Pinterest too! Thanks for reading Fuss Free Flavours!

Hello! You know, I could do with a good cup of tea. Could you please make me one? Don’t worry, I’ll guide you through it!

Move with WASD.
Look with the mouse.
Interact with left click.

Made by three people in 48 hours for the GMTK Game Jam 2020.

If it doesn’t load in web then there is a Windows download!

Download

Comments

pov: your British

pov: you aren’t british

you’re right, I’m a generation of Russian

epic. but i put honey in my tea and i dont put milk. but hey we are all different

It was. unsettling

I like black tea!

The music gives it a creepy atmosphere

this game saved my marriage

this is the goal of all art

yes i suppose it is

I have the world record time in this game and it was very fun to obtain.

I encourage others to try beat my time!

I love simple yet amazing games. This one was very well done. I dunno if it was supposed to give off an unsettling feel to it, but it did. I love how the game is cyclical as well. Get your dad some tea and he shows you what’s on his computer lol. Amazing. Here the link, love ya

It certainly creeped me out, the music became more and more unsettling and the ingredients as well.. i was certainly relieved and bamboozled with the ending lmao the devs did an awesome job with the entire game’s atmosphere.

This was so fun! Very cute, funny, and a little unsettling. I felt very tense at first expecting the door to open or something but once the dog showed up I couldn’t stop grinning. The shifts in music are very effective and I really liked the major art shift towards the very end. Absolutely charming little game and now I want tea.

I showed this game to my whole class they started screaming when I put the dog in the cup that was the best day of my life 😀

How to make a good cup of tea

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How to make a good cup of tea

It’s best to brew your tea in a teapot before pouring it into a cup.

If there’s one group of people who know how to make a cup of tea the right way, it’s the Brits. Do you pour the boiling water over the tea bag, or do you drop the bag into the already-filled cup? How long do you let it steep for? Should you squeeze the teabag into the cup when it’s finished steeping? Believe it or not, there’s a right way and a wrong way; the right way will leave you with a smooth, mellow cup of tea that lets its flavor shine through, and the wrong way will leave you with a bitter mess. While every type of tea needs to be brewed slightly differently here’s how to brew a cup of black tea the proper English way, according to the British Standards Institution.

First, get some water boiling. Add one tea bag to an empty teapot for every three and a half ounces of water, so a seven-ounce cup of tea should be made with two teabags. When the water is between 140 and 185 degrees, pour it into the teapot over the tea bags and let it steep for six minutes. Then, remove the teabags (don’t squeeze) and pour the tea into a cup; if you like to add milk, now’s the time to do it. The finished cup of tea will be strong but not overly bitter, hot but not scorching, and perfect for pairing with scones and clotted cream (if you’re feeling especially British).

As for sugar, take George Orwell’s advice: “How can you call yourself a true tea-lover if you destroy the flavour of your tea by putting sugar in it? It would be equally reasonable to put in pepper or salt. Tea is meant to be bitter, just as beer is meant to be bitter.”

Scroll down for easy instructions on the different ways to brew yerba mate.

How to make a good cup of tea

Brew Yerba Mate Tea Bags

Tea bags are a convenient way to prepare yerba mate. Follow these simple steps to make a delicious mug every time!

  • Add 1-2 yerba mate tea bags to a mug.
  • Moisten the tea bags with cool water.
  • Fill the mug with 170°F water.
  • Steep 5 minutes and remove tea bags.
  • Flavor to taste.

Brew Loose Yerba Mate

Loose yerba mate is super versatile. It’s also the most ECO — ecological and economical!

  • Add 1-2 TBS of yerba mate to a French press or strainer.
  • Moisten the herb with cool water.
  • Add 8 oz of 170°F water.
  • Steep 5 minutes and strain.
  • Flavor to taste.

How to make a good cup of tea

Prepare Yerba Mate with a Gourd and Bombilla

The traditional yerba mate sharing circle is a great way to catch up with old friends or make new ones!

  • Fill a yerba mate gourd ⅔ with loose yerba mate.
  • Tap the loose yerba mate to one side to create a pit.
  • Moisten the pit with cool water.
  • Insert a bombilla into the pit.
  • Pour small sips of 150°F water into the pit.
  • Share and enjoy!

Read more about sharing traditional yerba mate here.

How to make a good cup of tea

Make Iced Yerba Mate with a Bombilla (a.k.a. Tereré)

Tereré is a refreshing summer treat. It’s very popular in Paraguay and northern Argentina. Try it and you’ll soon discover why!