The science behind making the perfect cup of tea

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

Milky or strong? Cup or mug? To leave in the bag (like Nigella Lawson) or not? Us Brits take our tea making pretty seriously.

You might think that how you take your tea is a matter of personal taste, but turns out there’s actually a science to making the perfect cuppa.

Just ask Dr Stuart Farrimond. An expert in the science of tea making, Dr Farrimond showed TV presenter Cherry Healey how to brew the perfect cup of Rosie on a new series of ‘Inside the Factory’ on BBC Two.

Apparently where we’ve been going wrong is by not letting the tea brew for long enough. For most of us, a quick 30 second dip and a squeeze of the bag is enough, but according to Dr Farrimond, we should be letting the tea brew for exactly five minutes to create a healthier, more delicious tasting cup.

“Tea is a great source of antioxidants and these are natural substances that our body uses to help fight disease so it is important you leave it to brew,” he explained.

Not only do the antioxidant levels increase the longer tea is brewed, the caffeine levels increase too. The programme cited a scientific study revealing that a cup of tea that was only brewed for 30 seconds only contained 35 milligrams of caffeine, compared to a mug brewed for five minutes that contained 50 milligrams.

The test also showed that tea that had been brewed for the longer period also contained double the antioxidants.

And that’s not all. Dr Farrimond also believes the colour of your tea drinking vessel can actually make a difference to the taste.

Research has shown that tea drunk from a red or pink mug will taste sweeter than from a white or blue one. It’s all about psychology you see, and studies have revealed that saltiness is associated with the colours white and blue, while sweetness is associated with red and pink.

Not brewing tea for long enough and not drinking from the right colour mug are two of our tea faux pas [Photo: Burst via Pexels]

Other top tea making tips include always using a filter if you live in an area with hard water to prevent scum forming.

“What happens when you use hard water to make a cup of tea, is you sometimes get that scum on the top,” he revealed in the programme.

“What’s happening is some of the flavour compounds are reacting with the calcium and they form this scummy layer, so you’re actually losing flavour, the flavour is being lost in that scum.”

Filtering the water first will remove calcium and magnesium residue and stop the scum forming.

And his final tip would be to never drink tea out of a Styrofoam cup.

Not only does it look pretty naff, but Styrofoam absorbs the flavour molecules which in turn reduces the tastiness of the tea.

So there you have it folks, the scientific guide to making tea. Still not convinced? Here’s our expert tips on brewing the perfect cuppa.

Biscuit with your brew?

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