Allspice Chronicles

Entertain like a Queen, Think Lean and Live Green! A personal collection of recipes,anecdotes,and good old fashioned advice…

How To Make A Perfect Cup Of Tea

by Danica Waters /photo credits at bottom of post


Having published the recipe for what I think are the Best Traditional Scones In The World, it’s high time to get into how to make the perfect cup of tea to accompany them. Take a look:

 

 

There’s a lot of speculation as to whether it’s best to add milk to the cup before or after the tea is poured.  According to Margot Cooper, a tea specialist at London’s Fortnum & Mason, milk was originally added to the cup before pouring the tea to keep the teacups from breaking.  However, as finer materials were introduced, such as bone china, the English took to pouring the milk after the tea was served to demonstrate that they were serving on china of the finest quality.  She also advised that the advantage to adding milk afterwards is that you have the ability to gauge the strength of your tea prior to diluting it with milk.  While this train of thought made certain sense, it went against everything I’d ever been taught by my mother-in-law about making tea, so I decided to look into it a bit further.

 

It appears that my mother-in-law was right; scientists at the Royal Society of Chemists in England had something else to say about the “milk matter “entirely.  It seems that at high temperatures, milk proteins unfold and clump together in a process called “denaturation”.  Essentially, adding a thin stream of cold milk to a cup of hot tea causes your milk to go “bad”.  The RSC advises that to maintain the freshest flavor possible, “It is better to have the chilled milk massed at the bottom of the cup, awaiting the stream of hot tea.  This allows the milk to cool the tea, rather than the tea ruinously raise the temperature of the milk.”  (source:  http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk/3016342.stm)

 

So now we know.

 

And according to my mother-in-law, there’s one more essential step to making the perfect pot of tea:   Pour a bit off the top.  That’s right.  Before your serve anyone, pour a little tea off the top of the pot down the sink.  It is said to improve the flavor by removing any bitterness.  While I haven’t been able to find any scientific information to support this, I’m not going to question it.  Her tea is perfect every time.

 

To Loose-Leaf or Bag It:

Regarding whether or not it’s best to use tea bags or loose-leaf tea, either will work.  However,  loose leaf tea is allowed to freely circulate in the water, allowing for maximum oil extraction and renders a richer, more flavorful cup of tea.  When using loose-leaf tea, figure on using one teaspoon per cup, plus one teaspoon for the pot, if desired.

 

Steeping Times and Temperatures:

Courtesy of www.seattleteacup.com, following is a handy reference chart for temperature and steeping times for different types of tea:

Tea type Water Temperature Steeping Time
White tea 160° 1.5 to 2 minutes
Green tea 170° 2 minutes
Oolong tea (greener) 170° 2-3 minutes
Oolong tea (darker) 190-212° 2-4 minutes
Black tea 212°(rolling boil) 3 minutes
Herbal tea 212°(rolling boil) 3-5 minutes

 

What to do with all those loose tea leaves?

Read them, of course!  Do you see birds?  Triangles?  Courtesy of www.teausa.com, here’s a list of some of the more commonly seen symbols and their meanings:

 

ACORN—Continued health—improved health.

ANCHOR—Lucky symbol. Success in business or in love. If blurred or indistinct just the reverse.

HEART—A lover. If close to a ring, marriage to the present lover. If indistinct, the lover is fickle.

HEAVENLY BODIES—(Sun, Moon, Star)—Good luck—great happiness and success.

OWL—Indicates sickness or poverty. Warning against starting a new venture.

PALM TREE —Good omen. Success in any undertaking. Single people learn of marriage. MOON (crescent)—Prosperity, fame. If cloudy, difficulties will be solved.

ELEPHANT—Good Luck—good health—happiness.

TRIANGLES—Unexpected good fortune.

BIRDS—Good Luck. If flying, good news from the direction it comes. If at rest a fortunate journey.” (www.teausa.com)

 

For a complete, step-by-step guide on tasseography, or the art of reading tea leaves, check out their website.  It makes for loads of fun on chilly afternoons.

Enjoy!

 

Photo Credits:

(Tea Service photo courtesy of http://en0910.wordpress.com/2010/02/10/assessment-of-your-projects/)

(Milk pouring into teacup – photo courtesy of Caters News Agency / Mail Online)

(Smiling tea leaves in cup  – photo courtesy of mosangels.ning.com)

(Tea reading photo courtesy of www.teausa.org)

 

 

Share on Facebook
[`tweetmeme` not found]
Share on StumbleUpon
Post to Google Buzz
Bookmark this on Delicious
Bookmark this on Yahoo Bookmark
Bookmark this on Digg
Share on reddit

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in Afternoon Tea and Allspice Chronicles and BBC and Beverages and British Tea and Daily Mail and Danica Waters and Meal Time and non-alcoholic beverages and resources and Serving Styles and Tea Time and teausa.com by danica on November 3rd, 2011 at 11:54 am.

1 comment

One Reply

  1. Excellent blog.Many thanks again. Great.


Leave a Reply