The great British cuppa has been a tradition since the late 17th century, and now we drink almost 900 cups per person per year in the UK, enough to fill two bath tubs.
At this time of year, when nights are long and the weather’s uninspiring, a good cup of tea is the ultimate comfort drink.
It’s good for you, too -the antioxidant action of drinking three cups a day can help with skin cell renewal, and there’s evidence that it can also help to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.
According to a study by the British Science Association of 1,000 people, around three quarters of us drink at least one cup of tea again with the nation’s favourite being English Breakfast tea. 91 per cent of us prefer a china mug, and drink tea with milk and no sugar.
Here’s how to brew up properly for the perfect pick-me-up.
- Start by running the tap for a few seconds to aerate the water – tea loves oxygen, and ‘flat’ water can affect the taste. Fill the kettle and let it boil, then leave it for five minutes to allow the temperature to reduce slightly. Tea made with water that’s just off the boil tastes better, as the amino acids which improve the flavour dissolve at lower temperatures than the tannins, which govern the bitterness and astringency. Only boil the kettle once before using the water, as re-boiling removes oxygen.
- Use loose leaf tea, which allows more air to circulate. If you’re using teabags, choose the pyramid-style bags which allow more oxygen flow.
- Use a thin china mug or cup and saucer, and a teapot.
- Rinse the mug and teapot out with hot water to warm them, and add one spoonful of tea or one teabag per person and one for the pot.
- Leave to brew for 4 to 5 minutes to allow maximum flavour infusion. According to the British Science association, most of us don’t leave the tea to brew for long enough.
- Pour the milk into the cups then add the tea. Add sugar to taste.
Top five tea pots
The perfect brew needs the perfect pot. Here are our picks:
Cobalt blue floral teapot, Annabel James
This teapot featuring a cobalt blue auricula is designed, manufactured and hand decorated in England. It’s got a two pint capacity and is now on sale at 50% off, from £39.95 to £19.95 at Annabel James.
Kaleidoscope teapot, Collier Campbell
This fine china teapot in a bright mix of retro geometric patterns will cheer up a winter’s day. The body and lid of the teapot are decorated in brightly coloured larger scale ‘Kandi’ design while the base of the teapot is edged in the smaller ‘Quicksilver’ design. £25 from Collier Campbell.
Elephant teapot, rigby & mac
Everyone in the household will clamour to be the one to make the tea in this irresistible elephant teapot, £14.95 from rigby & mac.
Sagaform Blossom teapot, Camilla Engdahl
Brew up in Scandinavian style with this retro-floral teapot by Swedish designer Camilla Engdahl. £34 from The Scandinavian Shop.
Blue hen teapot, Emma Bridgewater
Love a traditional cup of tea? How about this Emma Bridgewater Blue hen and border four-cup teapot, perfect for family breakfast or afternoon tea. £59.95 from Daisy Park.
By Sara Walker