Posted at Foodie Friday
Would you believe me if I told you that I have a qualification in Tea? (I also have one in Coffee and one in Chocolate) When I lived in England I worked for Whittard of Chelsea for about a year. Part of our training was to work towards certificates in the various products that we sold. This involved a lot of taste testing, studying and then an exam. I think that perhaps the chocolate taste testing was my favourite!
Anyway I don't have a "real" recipe for you today. I've been busy in the house, the husband was away for half the week and I really didn't have time to throw together anything interesting.
However, as the weather is starting to get colder and more rainy it's a good time to bring out the Brit Food! Over the next few weeks I'll be posting good ol' traditional British recipes on Friday's.
Today I'm going to start with how to make a proper cup of English Tea, as outlined by my rigorous training on the matter (LOL). Of course in the real world I rarely make tea this way, I normally throw in a teabag, pour some boiling water on top, stick some sugar in, remove the bag and throw in some milk. I am forced to use P.G. Tips teabags or Twinnings, as that is the only decent British Tea that the commissary sells.
A kettle, preferably stove top but it doesn’t matter too much. Electric would be fine. No microwaves you crazy Americans!
A tea strainer
Loose leaf Assam tea
- To begin, fill a clean kettle with more than enough fresh water for the amount of tea you would like to make. Tap water is best, do not use water that has already been previously boiled. Put the kettle on the stove to boil.
- Gently heat the teapot by running it under hot water.
- Put the tea leaves into the teapot, you should only need one teaspoon of tea leaves per person and an extra teaspoon if you are making tea for more than 2 people.
- When the kettle has boiled pour into the teapot. Leave to brew for 2 minutes, no longer or the tea may become astringent.
- While the tea is brewing pour the milk into the cup. Milk with a lower fat content is best and it must also be cold straight from the refrigerator. You will probably only need to pour an amount of milk that is the width of your thumb. Some people like less milk and others like more.
- Hold the strainer over the cup, or place it onto the cup depending on what kind of strainer you have, and pour the tea through it into the cup.
- Add white sugar to taste.
- Drink it while it is hot!
- Assam tea is my personal favourite, although you could substitute it with another kind of strong black tea. George Orwell, English author and journalist, in his essay titled A Nice Cup of Tea claims that “First of all, one should use Indian or Ceylonese tea. China tea has virtues which are not to be despised nowadays — it is economical, and one can drink it without milk — but there is not much stimulation in it. One does not feel wiser, braver or more optimistic after drinking it. Anyone who has used that comforting phrase ‘a nice cup of tea’ invariably means Indian tea.”
- Boiling water absolutely must be used when brewing black tea, however it can ruin the taste of delicate green tea.
- According to the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) “At high temperatures, milk proteins – which are normally all curled up foetus-like – begin to unfold and link together in clumps. This is what happens in UHT [ultra heat-treated] milk, and is why it doesn’t taste as good a fresh milk,” which is why the RSC recommend having the chilled milk massed at the bottom of the cup, awaiting the stream of hot tea. Because this allows the milk to cool the tea, rather than allowing the tea to ruinously raise the temperature of the milk.