In an article recently published in these pages I took a look at the notion of perfect tea and concluded that a perfect cup of tea may not be attainable. But you can probably come close to this goal if you start with great tea and prepare it to the best of your ability. I also noted that there were about two million Google results for the words “how to prepare the perfect cup of tea.”
Only days after completing that article I happened to run across a recent article, in London’s Telegraph, with a headline that included none other than the words “how to make the perfect cup of tea.” As noted in my previous article, some of the most important variables in making a cup of tea are the time that the leaves are steeped and the temperature of the water the leaves are steeped with. There are also some other variables, but the Telegraph article brought yet another factor into the mix, citing the results of a study that indicated that patience was a key element in the process.
What this means, more specifically, is that tea can benefit from sitting for about six minutes after it’s been prepared before we actually consume it. This allows it to reach 60C (140 degrees Fahrenheit), which has been determined to be the optimum temperature at which we can taste the full range of flavors of the tea. According to the researchers’ findings, tea that falls to a temperature of 45C (113 degrees Fahrenheit) is not recommended for optimum taste.
The study was commissioned by Cravendale Milk and conducted by a team of researchers at the University of Northumbria’s School of Life Sciences. They spent 180 hours on the research, which was conducted using volunteers who consumed nearly 300 cups of tea. Among their other findings, the average Brit makes their first cup of tea at the tender age of just seven and a half and the British drink the not so shabby amount of about 60.2 billion cups of tea a year.
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