I’ve written about that elusive creature known as the perfect cup of tea on a number of occasions now. My most recent thoughts are here. I’m still not convinced that such an item exists. But I guess all we can do is to try our best to get as close as we can to that lofty goal.
I’m not sure that the British Standards Institution was setting out to promote perfection when they put together various standards for preparing tea, but I guess that’s implied just by the fact that they’ve done so. The group drafted general standards for preparing a cup of tea as well as more specific standards for black and green tea. All of which popped up in the news recently, specifically in the British press, when it was revealed that the BSI is reviewing the standard for tea, which has been in place since 1980.
For those who might be wondering, like I was, just exactly what this group is all about, let’s consider their Wikipedia entry. It states that the British Standards Institution, also known as the BSI Group, is “a multinational business services provider whose principal activity is the production of standards and the supply of standards-related services.” Which cleared things up for me.
The group’s standard for tea is BS 6008:1980 and is described as a Method for Preparation of a Liquor of Tea For Use in Sensory Tests. You can purchase a copy here, but at about $128 it’s not for everyone and presumably is geared more toward industry types with deep pockets. This standard, if I have my story straight, was apparently adopted by the International Organization for Standardization as ISO 3103-1980, which is also a bit pricey for us mere mortals.
You can get a rough idea of what it’s all about without having to shell out so much as a penny, by checking out the Wikipedia entry. A key point made here is that “this standard is not meant to define the proper method for brewing tea, but rather how to document tea brewing procedure so sensory comparisons can be made.”
In the end, the “systematic periodic review” of the tea standard may not amount to much and is not likely to have much bearing on us average Joes, no matter what. But I guess it’s nice to know that someone out there is keeping tabs on the “rules” for tea preparation.
See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.
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