Never boil water twice and other modern tea rules

  • Article by: William Gorman, chairman of the UKTIA
  • Monday 27th March 2017

It has been over 70 years since George Orwell famously wrote his guide to making the perfect cup of tea in the London Evening Standard entitled ‘A Nice Cup of Tea’.

In it he espouses the need for water to be boiling on impact with the tea and that tea should be strong. Wise words indeed.

Since we are as fascinated as ever at making the perfect cup of tea, perhaps - with the greatest respect - we should add a few 21st century updates to Orwell’s hallowed list.

George Orwell’s Rules for Making Tea of 1946 and UKTIA’s 21st century response

ORWELL: Only use Indian or Ceylon tea
UKTIA: There are other great teas from around the world too

ORWELL: Tea should be made in a teapot, not in an urn or cauldron
UKTIA: A mug is just as good too

ORWELL: Warm the teapot before use
UKTIA: Yes, definitely

ORWELL: Tea should be strong
UKTIA: Tea should be the strength you like

ORWELL: Loose tea leaves should be added to the pot - not put into baskets or strainers
UKTIA: Disagree, there are some excellent pots with clever baskets in them

ORWELL: The water should be boiling when added to the teapot, not just off the boil
UKTIA: Agree for black tea, but green works best at 80c

ORWELL: Once the tea has infused, stir the pot and let the tea leaves settle
UKTIA: Agree

ORWELL: Pour the tea into a mug - not a teacup
UKTIA: Choose whatever works for you

ORWELL: Pour the cream off the milk before pouring milk into your tea
UKTIA: As we mostly drunk semi-skimmed, this practice is redundant

ORWELL: Tea first, milk second
UKTIA: We would agree with that

ORWELL: No sugar
UKTIA: You lose the subtle flavours when you add sugar

And UKTIA’s additions...

  1. The water used to make a cup of tea should never be boiled twice. You need freshly drawn water because boiling the same water more than once removes the oxygen and nitrogen and results in a dull cup of tea.
  2. Putting a cold cup of tea in the microwave for 15 to 20 seconds should not be frowned upon. All you are doing from a scientific point of view is just moving the molecules around and getting it back up to a decent temperature. It is not impacting the flavour at all.
  3. Use a good quality loose-leaf or bagged tea, stored in an air-tight container at room temperature.
  4. One spoonful of loose-leaf tea or one bag per cup is plenty

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