How to Brew the Perfect Pot of Tea — The British Way

6 02 2008

Okay, I’ll admit it. I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to tea. I can’t help it! My dad’s British/Irish and has raised me on properly selected, brewed, and prepared tea. Granted, I’m nowhere near as deft as a true Brit, but for a second generation half-Brit living in the States, I’d say I’m alright at it.

Now, if you are expecting something reminiscent of Lipton, you shall be sorely disappointed. However, I promise that you will quickly realize that Lipton is bottom of the bottom of the barrel when it comes to tea. Even in times of extreme need, I’m not sure any self-respecting English man, woman, or child would touch the stuff.  It’s not tea. I’m sorry that the package says it’s tea, but I assure you, it is not.

I’m also a big fan of Chinese loose green tea, but you can get that pretty easily in Chinatown and its preparation is almost mind-numbingly easy. British tea, however, requires some instruction.

Without further ado, I present to you
The Perfect Pot of Irish/English Breakfast Tea

Step 1. Procure the right kind of tea.
I prefer Barry’s. [red and green boxes] PGtips is also pretty good. Twinings is alright as well, but I’m not going to recommend it. You can try that one later.
For reference:
Barry’s Green Blend
Barry’s Classic Blend

Place tea bag (or two) into tea pot. If you do not have a tea pot, go buy one.

Step 2. Boil the water.
Fill a kettle about 1/2 – 3/4 full with fresh, cold tap water. If you do not have a kettle, you must buy one. We got ours from IKEA, but any old metal, normal-sized kettle will do. Place filled kettle on the stove top on the highest setting. When water is ready, the kettle will whistle.

Step 3. Pour the water. 
Pour boiling hot water onto the tea bag. Fill tea pot to the brim. (Obviously, don’t overflow the tea pot, idiot.)
Place lid on tea pot, and tea cozy over the teapot. If you don’t have a tea cozy, it’s okay. Just don’t be surprised if your tea gets cold rather quickly.

Step 4. Let tea brew for 5 minutes.
Not, 3.5 minutes. Not 4 minutes. Not 6 minutes. 5 minutes and 0 seconds. Use a timer.

Step 5. Remove tea bag(s).

Step 6. Pour milk into mug.
If you have a small mug, you should have about 1/4 inch milk. For larger mugs, increase proportionately.

Step 7. Fill mug with brewed, piping hot tea. 

Step 8. Enjoy =]

See! That wasn’t hard at all. Note. Tea should not taste “too milky” or “too strong.” If there is a bitter sort of aftertaste, you’ve over-brewed it. If you feel like you’re drinking heated milk with a tiny bit of another flavor, you’ve either under-brewed it or filled it with too much milk.

Good luck!

–The Erraticist




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