Tea is the world’s second most consumed beverage after water (Surprised beer isn’t number 1? Me too!). Americans consume a whopping 3.6 billion gallons of tea a year. Black, green, white, earl grey, English breakfast, oolong are a leafy handful of the 3,000 varieties of tea.
Some scientists dedicate themselves to finding cures for diseases. Others to the creation of the perfect cup of tea.
Here are nine scientifically-supported, researched methods that’ll make your next cup taste even better. So, brew a cup of tea, sit down and enjoy… and then stand up, brew another more perfect cup of tea using what you’ve learned.
1.Time Your Brew
Possibly the most contentious part of making a cup of tea is how long it should be steeped. So what’s the definitive answer? Well, ergh, it depends. You see, every tea is different. Somewhere between two and five minutes is the optimal brewing period, depending on the leaf.
Here’s a handy infographic that’ll look great on your kitchen wall above the kettle.
Don’t have a stop watch? Hit play on these songs in line with the type of tea you’re making.
Green Tea: Fell in Love With A Girl (1:48) – The White Stripes
Black Tea: Song 2 (2:00) – Blur
Oolong Tea: Pinball Wizard (3:01) – The Who
White Tea: Sexual Healing (4:00) – Marvin Gaye
Mate/Roobios/Herbal Tea: Smells Like Teen Spirit (5:00) – Nirvana
Like steeping times, water temperature varies based on the type of tea.
It ranges from 175 to 210 degrees Fahrenheit (80-100C) depending on the type of tea.
The UK Tea & Infusions Association (Yes, that’s a thing) says that using water that is too hot for your type of tea will cause a bitter taste.
3.The Water’s Gotta Be Fresh
Would you take a bath in water that’s been sitting there all day?
Then don’t use water that’s been sitting idle in the kettle. It doesn’t have to be fresh from the Swiss Alps. Freshly poured from the tap will do.
According to a Second World War-Era short film made by the Empire Tea Bureau, always use fresh water when making tea. Stale water means stale tea.
4.Don’t Be In A Hurry To Drink Your Freshly Brewed Tea
Obviously throwing boiling water down your throat isn’t a good idea but there’s more to it.
Scientists in England determined that a cup of tea is best consumed after it has be left to sit for six minutes.
By this time your cup of tea will have cooled to 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60C) and released all its flavours.
It reaches the point of un-drinkability after 17 minutes and 30 seconds. Sure, we’re all busy. But no one is that busy that they take more than 17 minutes to drink a cup of tea!
5.Cool Your Tea By Leaving A Teaspoon In It
In a hurry to drink your fine brew?
According to the Royal Society of Chemistry, leaving a teaspoon in your tea for a few seconds is an effective cooling method.
Cool your tea while impressing your friends with your amazing scientific knowledge.
6.When’s the Milk Go In?
Humans started drinking milk during the agricultural revolution around 12,000 years ago.
The argument about whether to put the milk or the tea in first likely began about five minutes later.
It’s been a long-held point of contention for tea drinkers. So what’s the answer?
Well both sides of the great milk divide are right.
If you’re pouring brewed tea from a teapot into a cup it’s perfectly fine to add the milk first.
However, if you’re pouring boiling water directly into the cup, NEVER put the teabag in with the milk first. The milk will cool the water and the tea won’t brew properly.
7.If It’s Not Stored Tight, It Won’t Taste Right
Tea sucks up moisture and odor which can spoil the taste of your tea.
If your tea isn’t stored properly, away from strong odored food stuffs, it won’t matter how perfect your steeping period and water temperature are, its taste will be compromised from the outset.
8.Loose Leaf or Tea Bag?
Simply, loose leaf.
Tea leaves in loose leaf tea have the freedom to unfurl completely during the steeping process, providing a better flavor and fully releasing the tea’s catechins (the health-boosting antioxidants in tea).
The more finely chopped leaves of tea bags can leave small particles and produce a lesser flavor.
You can also re-steep loose leaf tea leaves.
Yeah, yeah, I know, the whole convenience thing. But are you willing to trade flavour and benefits for convenience?
9.Do What George Orwell Tells You, Make It Strong
Famed tea enthusiast George Orwell wrote in his 1946 essay A Nice Cup Of Tea: “One strong cup of tea is better than twenty weak ones.”
Can’t argue with that.
Featured photo credit: Haneburger via Wikimedia via upload.wikimedia.org