If you're looking for guidance on how to make a better cup of black tea, there's no higher authority than the British Standard's Institute. Their latest guide to brewing the perfect cup was six pages long because that's how thorough they are. We pulled out the essential information for you so that you can enjoy a perfect cup of tea without too much reading. Here's what you need to know:
First, you should be using a white porcelain or glazed earthenware tea pot. The perfect size is between 74 mm and 78 mm wide. If you're just making it straight in the mug -- like so many of us do -- you're already starting off with a substandard brew.
Second, the correct tea-to-water ratio is 2 grams of tea for every 100 ml liters of water. Yes, this is extremely precise -- you'd better get out your kitchen scale.
Third, the water should be heated to no more than 185 degrees F for brewing (and should be above 140 degrees F when serving for the best flavor).
Fourth, black tea should be steeped for six minutes. No more, no less. That's the amount of time needed to extract the flavors from the tea leaves.
And lastly, add milk first. We know, this sounds all wrong, but British Standards would not lead us astray. It all has to do with denaturing milk proteins. If you've followed all the proper directions above, the last step is to add milk to the cup before you pour the tea into it.
Follow those five steps and you'll be drinking tea like a true Brit in no time -- or at least like the ones who pay attention to the standards.
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