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Five o’clock tea: the rules for a perfect English tea

Considering that everyone knows perfectly how he loves his tea, we do not want to give strict indications on tastes, types or preferences on the infusion to be prepared. However, there are good rules to follow that allow us to prepare an impeccable cup of tea, and then enjoy it

It is the most popular drink in the world after water, but few know exactly how to make it a real tea.
There will certainly be those who will smile, without seeing anything wrong in the practical sachets or even in the capsules compatible with the various coffee machines, very comfortable and ideal for having superfast tea.
Always hot water and tea leaves are, they will say … but purists, serial tea consumers (like myself) or simply those who consider the preparation of this drink a centuries-old ritual to be honored, will be happy to know that the historic rules for the preparation of English tea are not forgotten, on the contrary!

Today there is even an ISO standard that defines the parameters for a perfect tea, but it seems excessive. Without subjecting you to this somewhat aseptic discipline, we summarize for you the right moves for excellent results.

To prepare a flawless tea, we must have at hand

leaf tea (forget the single-dose sachets)
a food thermometer
a teapot and porcelain cups
an infuser or a strainer with a very dense texture
a tea pot
water (if that in your area is too calcareous, use natural mineral water with a low fixed residue, that used for infants, in short. Just check the bottle label anyway)

1_Heat the right water at the right temperature

It takes fresh and not very mineralized water, because the minerals interact with the leaves in infusion, changing the taste of tea a lot (for the worse), and that of the tap – especially in large cities – is too strong, rich in limestone and disinfectants.

The water temperature is very important, and varies according to the tea you are preparing: most black teas require a temperature around 96 °, while for the more delicate ones, such as white tea and green tea, the temperature of ideal infusion is below 70 °.

Some kettles are on the market that allow you to set the desired water temperature, but if you do not have one at hand, you can easily measure it with a food thermometer.

A good tea needs oxygen, so never heat the water previously heated because it would lose too much oxygen giving your tea a vaguely metallic taste.

2_The teapot (or cup)

Why porcelain containers? With plastic, tea tannins stick to the sides; with metal you risk a metallic aftertaste. Pottery is widely used but it is porous, and your tea would cool down too quickly. The ideal solution is porcelain (don’t forget that when the tea arrived from China, it was served in porcelain cups).

Abound with the water to be heated. Once the water in the kettle or saucepan has reached the desired temperature, first pour a small part of it into the teapot you intend to use and let it turn inside and then leave it for 1-2 minutes. Then throw the water into the teapot.

(in fact, if you use a container at room temperature, in fact, when you pour hot water there will be a heat exchange and the water temperature, so carefully measured, will drop by a few degrees, making the previous operation unnecessary).

3_The doses

Put the tea leaves in an infuser or directly in the teapot, then filter it later. Usually 1 teaspoon of leaves per cup is calculated, plus an extra teaspoon “for the teapot”. Place the infuser in the hot teapot and pour the water at the right temperature.

Almost all leaf teas can be infused more than once, even 3 or 4 times: towards the end the amount of theine will have decreased enormously (up to -70%), making the tea less exciting and suitable for evening consumption.

4_The brewing time

It depends on the type of tea: many quality teas indicate the correct infusion time on the package (generally 3 to 5-6 minutes). Cover your teapot with the teapot cover (yes that of your aunt) to keep the temperature as constant as possible.

If you have chosen to put the tea directly in the teapot, you can filter it in the cups (up to 2/3) or in another teapot, also heated.

5_The milk debate

Across the Channel, a highly controversial issue concerns the time to add milk to the infusion, given that the vast majority of Britons drink tea with milk and without sugar.

Among the mandatory rules for English tea drawn up by the BSI (British Standards Institution, an international standardization body that since 1901 defines standards of excellence adopted all over the world), there is one for which milk must be poured into the cup before tea (5 ml in large cup and 2.5 ml in small cup). According to the scientists, in fact, milk should not be poured into boiling water because the high temperature of this would denature its proteins.

In this debate, tradition clashes with science: the Anglo-Saxons – including illustrious Brits such as the writer George Orwell (who in 1946 wrote a decalogue of rules, “A nice cup of tea”) and chef Jamie Oliver – support from provided that milk or cream should not be put in the cup before pouring the tea, because otherwise you risk using too much or too little.

After the milk you can add sugar if you like, but quality tea should be drunk in purity to appreciate its aroma and flavor, without adding sugar, honey or various sweeteners.

A couple of times, and these operations will be done automatically. You will be able to enjoy the soothing tea ritual even before enjoying your favorite cup of tea, perfectly prepared!

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  • Reply
    July 17, 2020 at 7:28 pm

    Like!! I blog frequently and I really thank you for your content. The article has truly peaked my interest.

    • Reply
      July 18, 2020 at 5:28 am

      Thank you!

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