Novelist, poet and academic C.S. Lewis once famously said: “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” Everyone loves a cuppa. But how do you make the perfect brew? We went to a world authority, the Dilmah School of Tea no less, to seek advice. It all boils down – pardon the pun – to these key points.
The water is important
A cup of tea is 99 per cent water and good water is as important for a good brew as the tea itself. Water that contains high levels of minerals, especially calcium, or magnesium (hard water), water that is chlorinated, briny or desalinated or has been boiled several times will not produce a good brew. Even a poorly washed teapot can affect the taste. If the water in your area is ‘hard’ or mineral rich, you need a good activated carbon filter.
Re-boiling water further reduces CO2 levels, resulting in a decrease in the acidity. This will affect the caffeine and polyphenol complexion, and bring about changes in the colour and character of the brew.
Brewing is the extraction process. Using the right proportion of tea to water is critical. Use 2.5g of tea per 220ml of water. Use a clean and dry teaspoon to place the tea in a clean, odour-free and pre-heated teapot. Also pre-heat your cup. Pour freshly, once-boiled water onto the tea leaves.
Brewing times vary between types of tea. Green tea has a softer, generally more gentle personality than black tea and should be brewed in water that has been cooled to about 75°C, whereas water for black tea should be 90-95°C. Light and floral teas should be brewed at 85°C.
Once the tea and freshly boiled water are combined, the leaves tend to settle at the bottom of the teapot. Stir to agitate the tea and enhance proper extraction. Black tea should be brewed for three minutes, green tea for two.
Protect your tea in an airtight container and keep it away from moisture, heat, light and odours. Store it in a cool and dry place never warmer than 30°C. For medium-term storage, keep your tea in an airtight foil pouch or ceramic container in the refrigerator.
Are you a tea snob? Do you follow these ‘rules’? What is your favourite brew?