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Vintage rose tea cup filled with milky tea

How to Prepare the Perfect Cup of (English) Tea


A Study by Northumbria's School of Life Sciences defined the best technique to make the most out of a cup of tea.

The tradition of drinking tea, the world’s second most popular beverage after plain water, dates back to the year 250 B.C in China. The legend has it that during Emperor Shen Nung’s reign he ordered that all water was to be boiled before drinking it. Then, while he lay beneath a wild tea tree (Camellia sinensis), some leaves fell into his hot beverage and he found the combination to be invigorating.

Legends that explain the origin of tea also exist in Japan and India. Originally, tea was taken for medicinal purposes and over time became a tradition of overall wellness. Its benefits to health, among other reasons, are due to its anti-oxidants and I-tenanin: a substance that works as a mental relaxant, evoking a feeling similar to that of meditation. But, how is it that one achieves a perfect cup of tea?

The Empire Tea Bureau in England published a fairly good manual in 1914, which is a great reference to take into account. But more recently the Northumbria School of Life Sciences published one that is “proven” by research and highly useful too. 285 cups of tea where brewed for the study, which in the end revealed the steps to achieve the most flavorful cup of the millennial beverage:

1- Pour 200ml of boiling water in cup with the tea already inside it.

2- Allow the tea to sit for 2 minutes.

3- Remove tea.

4- Add 10 ml of milk (if it happens to be black tea).

5- Wait 6 minutes for the cup to reach an ideal temperature of 60 degrees centigrade (at that temperature the flavor reaches its maximum expression).

Even in a country like Britain, where 98% of the population drinks tea with milk, and there is an ancient tradition of tea-drinking, it would be rather unusual for consumers to wait that long before drinking their tea. It would appear, however, that patience is the main virtue to be exercised during this particular ritual.

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