How to brew the per­fect cup of tea, ac­cord­ing to the sci­en­tists

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - DRINK - By TOME MORRISSY-SWAN

Few sub­jects are more di­vi­sive than the cor­rect brew­ing of tea, which re­mains our na­tional drink: the Bri­tish drink 165 mil­lion cups of the stuff each day, over 60 bil­lion in a year.

There are many ways to achieve the per­fect cup, which are much ar­gued over. Every­one has a slightly dif­fer­ent method, whether it’s pour­ing the milk in first or at the end, adding sugar or not, or how long to brew it for. As Ge­orge Or­well wrote in 1946, “the best man­ner of mak­ing it is the sub­ject of vi­o­lent dis­putes.”

Now sci­en­tists think they have found the per­fect method, and it in­volves a five-minute brew — not a sec­ond more or less — and drink­ing from a red or pink mug.

Dur­ing the first episode of the new sea­son of In­side the Fac­tory, which aired on BBC Two last night, Dr Stuart Far­ri­mond, an ex­pert tea maker, told pre­sen­ter Cherry Healey how to brew the per­fect cup.

Ac­cord­ing to Dr Far­ri­mond, the longer a tea is brewed for, the higher its caf­feine and an­tiox­i­dant con­tent. A tea brewed for 30 sec­onds con­tained 35 mil­ligrams of caffe- Ge­orge Or­well, ine, while a five-minute brew in­creased the fig­ure to 50 mil­ligrams. Leav­ing the teabag in for the same pe­riod also dou­bled the an­tiox­i­dant level.

“Tea is a great source of an­tiox­i­dants and these are nat­u­ral sub­stances that our body uses to help fight dis­ease so it is im­por­tant you leave it to brew”, says Dr Far­ri­mond.

Dr Far­ri­mond cited four golden rules of tea. They are:

Never drink from a Sty­ro­foam cup, which ab­sorbs the flavour.

Use a red or pink mug, which makes the drink taste sweeter.

Fil­ter the wa­ter, which re­moves cal­cium and mag­ne­sium residue, pre­vent­ing scum from form­ing. With so many tea-brew­ing meth­ods, what do other ex­perts say?

Be pa­tient

1946: The 11 points from his 1946 es­say

In 2011 a study at the Uni­ver­sity of Northum­bria found that it took eight min­utes to make a proper tea. Af­ter eight min­utes, the tea’s tem­per­a­ture drops to 60C, the right heat to ex­pe­ri­ence all the flavours at their most palat­able.

The method in­volves adding boil­ing wa­ter to a teabag in a mug for two min­utes be­fore re­mov­ing the bag and adding milk for six min­utes. But the re­searchers stressed it was cru­cial not to wait too long, 17 and a half min­utes to be ex­act, as the tea will drop to 45C, which will dam­age the flavour.

The 11-rule guide

Au­thor Ge­orge Or­well was a tea ob­ses­sive. In Jan­uary 1946, Bri­tain still reel­ing from the war, he pub­lished an 11-step guide to brew­ing the per­fect com­fort drink in the Even­ing Stan­dard.

He in­sisted on tak­ing the teapot to the ket­tle rather than the other way around, and en­cour­aged tead­rinkers to avoid sugar, which de­stroyed the drink’s flavour. “You could make a very sim­i­lar drink by dis­solv­ing sugar in plain hot wa­ter”, he quipped.

And what of the di­vi­sive tea or milk first de­bate? Tea was al­ways first for Or­well. “I main­tain that my own ar­gu­ment is unan­swer­able.”

The York­shire Tea method

York­shire folk of­ten claim to be­ing the best tea brew­ers in the land. So how do they do it?

Ac­cord­ing to York­shire Tea, it’s fairly sim­ple. The first step is run­ning the tap, to aer­ate it and al­low more oxy­gen to get in. Af­ter pop­ping a teabag into your mug, add the boil­ing wa­ter and stir it briefly. Four to five min­utes is the rec­om­mended wait time. The teabag should be squeezed, lightly, be­fore re­moval.

Af­ter­wards, it’s up to you whether to add sugar, milk, honey or le­mon.

Like Or­well, York­shire Tea sup­ports the tea-be­fore-milk method. Tea is best brewed in hot wa­ter, and the milk only serves to cool it down un­nec­es­sar­ily if added be­fore the drink is prop­erly brewed.

First of all, one should use In­dian or Cey­lonese tea.

Se­condly, tea should be made in small quan­ti­ties — that is, in a teapot.

Thirdly, the pot should be warmed be­fore­hand. Fourthly, the tea should be strong. Fifthly, the tea should be put straight into the pot.

Sixthly, one should take the teapot to the ket­tle and not the other way about.

Seventhly, af­ter mak­ing the tea, one should stir it.

Eighthly, one should drink out of a good break­fast cup — that is, the cylin­dri­cal type of cup.

Ninthly, one should pour the cream off the milk be­fore us­ing it for tea.

Tenthly, one should pour tea into the cup first.

Lastly, tea — un­less one is drink­ing it in the Rus­sian style — should be drunk with­out sugar.

The clas­sic method

If tea cosies, porce­lain cups and loose-leaf tea are your pref­er­ence, you’ ll find the per­fect method on Jamie Oliver’s web­site.

It in­volves mak­ing your own teabag, by adding loose leaf tea to empty bags. Pre­ci­sion is key when boil­ing the wa­ter, and the recipe rec­om­mends keep­ing the tem­per­a­ture at ex­actly 96C.

Af­ter brew­ing your tea in a pot, cov­ered by the tea cosy of course, the teabag should be re­moved, to pre­vent the tea be­com­ing overly bit­ter. No stir­ring or squeez­ing is sug­gested in this method.

As for the tea cup, it has to be porce­lain.

UCL’s 4 step points

Use loose leaf tea Use soft or fil­tered wa­ter Use boil­ing wa­ter for black tea Let it brew for up to eight min­utes

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