By Eric Lanlard
Did you know that tea is the second most widely consumed drink after water? No surprise there – after all the UK is a nation of tea lovers.
It all starts with the water – your ingredients are secondary; it doesn’t matter if you use a tea bag or loose leaf tea, a horrible taste like chlorine, iron or sulphur can damage the taste and aroma of your tea. Fill a kettle with cold mineral or filtered water – do not use pre-boiled or distilled water, as the more oxygen there is in the water, the better your tea will taste.
Bring fresh water to the boil. Immediately fill your empty cup or teapot and leave for 5 minutes to warm.
Fine china is a great insulator of heat that will keep your tea warmer for longer. Empty the water from your cup or teapot and refill with very hot (but not boiling) water. If the water is boiling or too hot you could destroy some of the complex flavours from the tea leaves. If using a cup, leave some space for the milk (if liked).
If using a tea bag, leave it to infuse for 3–5 minutes depending on the type of tea and how strong you like it, then remove the tea bag using a spoon. There is always an argument about when to add the milk (if using), but it has been proven that tea will infuse more effectively in just hot water rather than a mix of milk and water.
If using loose leaf tea, add one teaspoon of tea per person to the tea pot, plus one extra (this is the same if using a infuser).
Using a preheated spoon, swirl the leaves in the water and leave to infuse for:
- 1 minute for green tea (don’t leave for more than 2 minutes, as green tea will become bitter)
- 3 minutes for black tea
- 8–10 minutes for herbal or fruit infusions
The taste and flavours of loose tea leaves is incomparable to tea bags, even expensive brands. In the Far East, the traditional way to use loose tea leaves is to add them first to very hot water to remove any impurities, and then infuse them in slightly cooler freshly drawn hot water.
Add sugar or honey to sweeten your tea, and what we call in France ‘un nuage de lait’ (a cloud of milk) if you want, too. Sit back, relax and savour the moment with your perfect cup of tea.
The ideal accompaniment to the perfectly made cup of tea is a slice of tasty cake.
My new Afternoon Tea book is filled with cakes and perfect bakes to accompany a well made cup of tea. Enjoy!
Find Eric’s new ‘Afternoon Tea’ book for sale here