So what about this perfect cup of tea anyway? Before delving into a look at a few of the more notable how-to guides that are out there, let’s start by taking a look at the terminology.
I know we all have a pretty good idea of what “perfect” means, but let’s take a look at a definition anyway. Merriam-Webster Online defines it as “being entirely without fault or defect.” Which is a pretty lofty standard to set for anything, including a mere cup of tea. But I don’t suppose that promising someone a tutorial on how to make a “good” cup of tea is quite the same thing.
I’m not sure if I’d recognize a perfect cup of tea if I ran across one, but I’m always willing to try. Myself and some of the other contributors to this site have tackled this topic a few times (look here, here, and here, for starters), but this time around I wanted to look at some of the other tutorials that are available.
Not surprisingly, given the marked fondness for this sort of thing on the other side of the Atlantic, the British press trots out one of these tutorials quite frequently. This 2011 article counsels that patience is a key virtue in tea perfection, citing a study that found that tea should “rest” for six minutes after being steeped. Here’s an article from a decade ago that cites advice from the Royal Society of Chemistry and from writer George Orwell’s famous essay, A Nice Cup of Tea. Here’s another variation on the same theme that stresses the need to put the milk in first. Which is hardly my idea of perfection, but your mileage may vary.
One of the grand old names of British tea retailing – Twinings – offers a few thoughts at their Web site (taking a decidedly political stance on that milk thing). One of the better known Irish tea companies – Bewley’s – offers up a relatively straightforward and no-frills take on perfect tea at their site.
In this article from Prevention magazine, the writer offers some thoughts (not surprisingly) on how to approach tea perfection in a way that will “maximize the health benefits of tea.” Last up, a few thoughts from the UK Tea Council, who counsel (!) that milk in last is one of the steps to achieving tea perfection.
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