Have we been making tea all wrong?

Have we been making tea all wrong? [Photo: Unsplash via Pexels]
Have we been making tea all wrong? [Photo: Unsplash via Pexels]

Milky or strong? Milk first or last? To squeeze the bag or not? Us Brits are pretty particular about our tea, but how you take your tea basically boils (geddit?) down to a matter of personal taste. Or does it? Because according to some experts there’s a science to making the perfect cup of Rosie.

And turns out some of us have been making it all wrong. William Gorman, the chairman of the UK Tea and Infusions Association (so he knows his stuff!), claims that if you reboil water when making a cup of tea you could actually be spoiling the taste.

The tea connoisseur told The Telegraph that boiling the same water more than once results in your cuppa tasting “dull.” And no one wants their tea to taste dull right?

“Usually when people’s tea goes cold they reboil the kettle and make another cup,” he says. “But doing this you are guaranteed to give yourself a dull cup of tea.”

“You need freshly drawn water for a good cup because reboiling it takes out all the oxygen and nitrogen out of it,” he explains.

How do you make yours? [Photo: Leah Kelley via Pexels]
How do you make yours? [Photo: Leah Kelley via Pexels]

Maria Dawson, from Clearspring, believes that William Gorman could be right about reboiled water affecting the taste of tea.

“When you reboil water the oxygen and nitrogen can be stripped out and therefore this can affect the taste of the tea,” she explains. “This is why people often say not to use reboiled water to make a cup of tea.”

William Gorman also had some pretty controversial advice for those whose tea has gone cold before they’ve finished it. Instead of topping up with some boiling water like your nan used to, he recommends microwaving it for 15-20 seconds.

“When you microwave tea all you’re doing from a scientific point of view is just moving the molecules around and getting it back up to a decent temperature. It is not impacting the flavour at all,” he explained. Who knew?

Turns out, that’s not the only thing we’re getting wrong when it comes to making the brown stuff. A recent study conducted by researchers at the British Science Association revealed that 80% of tea drinkers do not let their tea brew for long enough.

Both tea experts and scientists believe brewing tea for two to five minutes can contribute to making the perfect cuppa, but apparently only 16 per cent of Brits do this.

They also recommend using a teapot rather than a tea bag, which allows convection currents to swirl the tea leaves fully through the water.

Scientists also addressed the age-old argument of whether to add tea or milk first. But that’s not quite so clean cut as it depends on what you’re drinking your tea out of.

Apparently if you’re a mug kinda person your tea tastes better if milk is added after the water, but if you’re going pot-posh its totally ok to add the milk to the cup first.

With that in mind we got in touch with some other T-experts to find out what else we might be doing wrong when it comes to making a brew.

There's nothing like a good cuppa! [Photo: Unsplash via Pexels]
There’s nothing like a good cuppa! [Photo: Unsplash via Pexels]

The type of water used

Whether you live in a hard or soft water area can have an effect on the quality of your brew. “Different types of water, for example soft and hard, has a high influence on the taste and aroma of teas,” explains Maria Dawson. “If you are making Green teas or Japanese teas it is often best to use soft water.”

Sebastian Pole, Master Herbsmith of Pukka Herbs and author of new herbal tea recipe book ‘Cleanse, Nurture and Restore with Herbal Tea’ suggests using a water filter before making your tea. “Water should be fresh, pure, clear odourless and low in minerals,” he says.

Optimum temperature

According to Sebastian really hot water extracts more bitter and astringent compounds, making the tea (especially green tea) taste harsh. “On the other hand water that is too cool is lacking the power to entice the flavours out of the herbs, making the tea taste weak,” he explains.

And overboiling the water is on the don’t-do list too. “Overboiling causes the minerals to escape the solution and collect as a film on the surface,” explains Sebastian. “Overheating can upset the balance between the stronger tannins and some of the subtle volatile oils and amino acids in the herbs.”

Cup or pot?

When it comes to how to brew your tea there really is no right or wrong, but depending on your tea vessel of choice there are some tips for making the perfect cuppa. “If you’re brewing tea in a pot, then choose a sturdy one so it keeps your tea warm,” advises Sebastian. “The choice of cup is all yours – a good trick is to keep a lid on your cup when drinking aromatic herbs to prevent the valuable volatile oils from evaporating away.”

The perfect cup of herbal

“Herbal teas should be made with freshly boiled water at a temperature of around 90 – 95OC/ 190 – 205OF,” says Sebastian. “When making delicate teas such as chamomile, mint or green teas, you should use freshly boiled water that has been left to cool for a bit.”

Water Temperatures for herbal teas:-

Green tea – 80-85 OC / 175-185 OF

Oolongs around 85-90 OC / 185-195 OF

Black teas around 95 OC / 205OF

Infusion times for herbal teas:-

Delicate aromatic flowers, leaves and seeds need less infusion time: 5 – 10 minutes

Harder fruits, roots and barks need longer infusion times: 10 – 20minutes

How do you take your tea? Let us know @YahooStyleUK

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