Expert settles the debate on how to make the perfect cuppa for National Tea Day

National Tea Day

According to a survey by Kantar, 8.2 million people in the UK are consuming tea 2-3 times a day1. Even though we all love a brew, everyone has their opinion on how to make the perfect cuppa. With the ongoing debate over what goes in first; milk or water, the length of time the teabag needs to be left in or even the temperature of your water, what is the verdict?

Ahead of National Tea Day, on the 21st April, the experts at Wren Kitchens teamed up with senior tea buyer Angela Pyrce from one of the biggest suppliers of our tea obsession, Whittardand Katie Kippax, tea buyer at Taylors of Harrogate3, who finally settles age old debates over how to make a ‘proper’ cup of tea. 

Angela also reveals if its milk or water that should go in first, the all-important brewing time, and an action many people innocently do which can result in a bitter cup of tea.

What goes in first – milk or water?

It seems the biggest debate is centred around what first goes in a cup of tea, milk, or water. However, one method can help you to achieve your desired taste better. “I recommend water first, before adding milk. This method will help you get the best from your brew as you can make the tea to your taste and strength, before adding in the milk”, says Angela.

How long should you leave your teabag in?

The length of time you leave your teabag in is dependent on your ideal strength, however Angela says there is an optimum time for black tea. “Leaving your teabag in for around 3-5 minutes is the key to your cuppa reaching the perfect strength. It’s also important that the temperature of your water is 100 degrees.”

You should also avoid leaving your teabag in for the entire drinking process. The longer you leave in, the more chance your tea will become bitter as the hot water will draw out an intense taste.

Does your choice of water matter?

The water you use for your tea can make a real difference to the overall taste. “Always use water, which is freshly out of the tap, and if you can, a filter jug. This is because the higher levels of oxygen in fresh water will make your cup of tea much cleaner and allow the rich flavours to come through”, reveals Angela.

A great tip is to let the tap run for a second or two, as this will help get the water aerated. If you can, invest in a boiling water tap, they can maintain a consistent temperature, which is crucial for brewing tea properly and extracting the desired flavours from the tea leaves. Boiling water taps are energy-efficient because they only heat the amount of water needed for each cup of tea.

Where should you store your teabags?

It’s important to keep your teabags dry and away from moisture, as moisture can quickly damage the tea leaves, causing them to become stale. Angela advises to “Store teabags in a cool, dry place such as a tea caddy or an airtight container, and far away from strong light and odours. This will help to maintain the tea’s freshness and flavour.”

Common mistakes when making a cuppa revealed

Angela has revealed the three common mistakes you should avoid when making your cup of tea:

  • “Never hit your teabags on the side of the mug as this could cause a tear in the material and the tea leaves escape into your cuppa.
  • Avoid using the wrong temperature water for your tea, stick to 100 degrees for the perfect blend of milk, water and tea leaves.
  • Never squeeze your teabags, as this can make your tea taste bitter due to the release of tannic acids. Instead lift it out carefully after 3-5 minutes of brewing.

Additionally, Katie said “Don’t put it in the microwave! My top tip is don’t reboil the water. Each time your kettle comes to the boil, the oxygen levels in the water reduces. Tea loves freshly boiled, well oxygenated water and stale water will negatively affect your brew.”

Katie also shared that for those taking milk in their tea to choose full fat, claiming it will enhance the flavours and give the final brew a rich and satisfying flavour.

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