There’s something so cozy about curling up with a cup of your favorite tea and a good book. And thanks to fall’s cooler temperatures, it feels even more indulgent. A steaming mug of tea is a calming morning ritual, so why not be particular about the methods you use to brew up a cup?
Brewing tea is an art form, and while we all have our preferences, we’re pretty convinced that the Brits do it best. We spoke to a close friend of Rebecca’s, Martyn Lewis, about how it’s done on the other side of the pond. Here’s what he had to say:
1. Boil the water once! Sure it’s tempting to leave the kettle full on the stovetop and just turn on the burner when you’re ready for your next cup. “The water that is boiled should only ever be boiled once. This is very important, because it impacts the taste of the water and the concentration of minerals. Basically for me, water boiled twice does not taste as good when you make tea with it,” says Martyn.
2. Let the water stop boiling before you add the tea. Start by pouring a little boiling water into the pot to warm it. Then once the water stops boiling, pour it over the leaves or tea bags. Don’t pour actual bubbling boiling water onto the tea—it can affect the taste of the tea. Leave it to steep for three to five minutes and stir again. But the timing gets personal. How do you drink your tea and how strong do you like it? Make it to your own taste. A good marker? The color—the deeper it gets, the stronger it usually is.
3. Mind the milk. If you drink your tea with milk, add the milk to the cup and pour the tea into the milk, not the other way round. “This is the British way of doing it, and when I was growing up, it was the only way we poured tea,” says Martyn. “Now with the advent of bags and brewing in the cup, you need to add the milk second, as adding the milk stops the brewing process immediately.”
4. Loose leaf vs. a tea bag. Loose leaf is preferable, but tea bags are incredibly convenient. “For afternoon tea when there is the tea strainer at the table, then you would always use loose leaf in your pot. If you’re using bags, the larger bags with more room for the tea to move around are going to give better results, in my opinion. The smaller bags have a restricted area in which the tea can brew, which I feel limits the taste. Look for larger bags or the types that are pyramid shaped,” says Martyn.
5. What is the right time? “In the U.K., we have regular tea time and afternoon tea. Regular tea is any time of the day and can be just tea or it can be served with a biscuit (cookie) or some other sweet. We do have a habit of dipping our biscuits into our tea. Try it! This is frowned upon and potentially a sign of bad manners, but it tastes so good, especially if the biscuit has chocolate on it. Getting the biscuit into your mouth before the now tea-saturated end drops into the tea is a true art form!