Ever since tea became an internationally loved drink, people have argued over how to make it Â‘just soÂ’. China tea and Indian tea are very different in their appeal. No-one would add milk or sugar to China tea, but Indian tea suffers from both. What gives us the perfect western cuppa?
Making the perfect cup of tea is something that millions of people want to do but few have managed. But that’s mainly because of the competition: you might think your cuppa is perfect, but no-one else will vote for it!
With that in mind, here’s one eminent person’s claim to success in making perfect tea – George Orwell. As he knew a thing or two about being a famous writer, we should treat his tea-making ideas with just a bit more than the average respect. But nevertheless he is wrong in a couple of things!
According to George, here is how you do it:
1. Use tea from India or Sri Lanka
2. Use a teapot, preferably ceramic
3. Warm the pot
4. Add three teaspoons of leaves per pint of water
5. Don’t use bags or strainers
6. Take the pot to the boiling kettle, not the kettle to the pot
7. Stir the contents of the pot
8. Drink out of a tall and thin cup rather than a shallow and wide cup
9. Add milk to the tea, not tea to the milk
10. Do not add sugar under any circumstances!
Most of that is fine, but anyone putting in three teaspoons of tea per pint will probably turn brown. The average teapot holds two pints, so that would be six teaspoons, which is four too many. Settle for two and see how you like it.
As for not using a tea strainer, that’s fine so long as you like chewing warm, soggy leaves.
And there is nothing wrong with teabags. They are an acceptable alternative to leaf tea, so long as they are not cheap teabags.
Apart from those caveats, George is spot on, except of course that real tea drinkers (like me) take it without milk.
Milk seems to be the point over which there is the greatest debate. Those who favour adding the milk first will argue that it is able to cool the tea rather than the tea addling the milk (they don’t explain why anyone would want their tea cooled artificially by milk, but they’re wrong anyway so let that one go).
It is obviously right to add the milk last because you have total control over the ratio of cow juice to tannin juice. Just stop adding when the colour is what you want it to be. It’s that simple.
Drinkers of China tea will be smiling inwardly at this point, because no-one ever puts milk in China tea... or do they?!