Go, go H20
Always make sure water is fresh and never ever re-boil it! Stale and re-boiled water have a lower oxygen content, which means tea won’t taste as lively and flavoursome. Use water at 100°C for black tea or infusions, and around 80-85°C for green tea – that way it won’t taste too bitter. If you live in a hard water area as I do, I find using a carbon-based water filter really helps to improve the flavour.
Be timing flexible
This is the bit of the brewing process you can adjust to suit personal preference. Broadly speaking, black tea needs at least three minutes to allow the flavour to be optimally extracted. With green tea, it depends on whether you’re using teabags or loose tea – I’d normally brew the former for one or two minutes and the latter for three or four minutes. For all loose teas, give them plenty of room to unfurl and release the full taste.
Choose your side
Milk first or last is an age-old debate! I’m firmly in the ‘milk first’ camp, but just use a tiny amount as I find this stops a film forming on top of the tea and doesn’t restrict the brewing process too much. Once you’ve steeped your tea, simply top up with the desired amount of milk. As for sugar? I’m not a big fan, although it can enhance the flavour of spiced teas such as chai.
I’m a firm believer that the better the quality of material used to make the drinking vessel, the better your taste experience. A porcelain cup will give a far more refreshing taste than, say, an earthenware mug.
That said, there’s always comfort in drinking from a favourite cup so go with what you enjoy!