How to brew the perfect tea
MYANMAR loves its tea, as evidenced by the tea shops scattered across the country’s street corners. But does it brew it correctly? Stephen B Twining, the 10th generation of the famous Twining tea family, visited Myanmar over the weekend to promote the family brand. Not that the brand needed it, after Aye Ne Win – son of the juntaera dictator Ne Win – complained about the lack of Twining’s Earl Grey at a recent state function hosted by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
“She [the state councillor] made probably a very wise decision to set a good example,” Twining said, acknowledging the small controversy at a press conference on August 5. “She was setting an example of not spending too much money.”
He added that the company makes no apologies for its higher price (K17,200 for 50 bags at City Mart), pointing to its carefully cultivated product as one of the highest-quality brews on the market.
But to fully appreciate the nuance of his brand, Twinings offered a demonstration on how to brew the perfect cup of tea. His advice resembled that of George Orwell, who penned a decisive missive on proper tea-brewing technique in 1946 for London’s Evening Standard. Orwell’s version focuses on hardware, the age-old question of tea-or-milk-first and whether tea leaves can be swallowed (they can, to no ill effect).
Twining’s version, however, delivered some scientific information gleaned after a lifetime in the business. Behold, how to brew the perfect cup of tea according to Stephen B Twining himself:
Always use fresh water in your kettle. Fresh water contains more dissolved oxygen and this helps bring out the tea’s full flavour.
2. Preheat the pot, especially for black teas.
3. For optimal taste, use 200-250ml of water per tea bag. (Water filled to the top of the handle of a typical mug will be around 200-250ml.) 4. To maximize one teabag, use a teapot to make two cups. (If using loose tea, use one teaspoon as an equivalent to one teabag.)
5. Teabags should only be used once, since all the flavour and natural benefits are released by first use.
Give 3-4 minutes for the tea to infuse. During the first minute, you should see the colour release into the water. The second and third minute allow the aroma and flavour to be released, and the final minute or so activates the anti-oxidants and natural benefits.
Stephen B Twining himself gave the brew demonstration.