© Joanna Kosinska/ Unsplash
Now, how pedantic can columns in our 'Do's and Dont's' series get? This article sets out to test the boundaries of pedantry in advising our readers on how to drink tea.
Tea. "Easy one," you think to yourself, "Just drink it and clean the mug up."
Ah, but dear reader, there is a wealth of guidance on how to drink tea. After all, the milk-first or milk-after debate continues to rage on, even after prominent individuals like George Orwell contributing to the debate. Unlike Orwell, I have no strong opinions on whether the milk comes before or after the tea. I do have strong feelings about other aspects of making tea.
It should also be specified that I am in no way, shape, or form talking about "spilling tea" as in gossip.
There are many pitfalls that can be made when drinking tea. We're here to guide you through them. Without further ado....
Do not EVER microwave water to "get it to the temperature you like." If you're an animal who likes brewing their tea in a microwave, please don't ever talk to me again. That's not how tea works and is actually offensive to my (and everyone else's!) tastebuds.
Do have an open mind. If you dismiss tea as purely for when you're ill, thinking that tea refers exclusively to mint and chamomile teas, think again! Chai, popularised by the Chai latte, is a form of tea and is delicious. Spiced and sweet (depending on your preference), Chai is an indulgence much like hot chocolate.
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Don't think you have to add milk to all teas. This probably goes for the Brits, but milk should only be added to black tea. Even then, not all types of black tea will necessarily taste better with milk. And of course, there's always your personal preference.
Do remember the philosophy of a cuppa being appropriate for every situation. You're stressed out at work? Have a cuppa. You've just come in from the cold? Cup of tea. You're having a catch up with a friend? Cup of tea. You come in from a night out absolutely steaming? A cup of tea will help hydrate you before you pass out. This isn't just the attitude that tea helps everything, scientists have actually discovered that even a single cup of tea reduces anxiety.
Don't dismiss tea as a winter drink. You can have a nice cup of tea, even when it's hot! After all, in India, chai is served at every opportunity, even in 30 degree Celsius heat.
There is nothing more soothing than that moment of adding milk to tea. / © Photo by Anita Austvika on Unsplash
Do let the tea brew adequately. Different types of tea have different brewing times (and require different water temperatures - some green teas, for instance, requires a water temperature of 80ºC, although this depends on where your tea is from). Might be best to take your black teabag out before it hits the 20 minute mark.
Don't microwave your tea if you let it get cold. If that happens, you have to down it lukewarm or cold as a mark of shame for neglecting your brew.
Do try and adapt the amount of milk in the tea you're making to the person you're making it for. Do they just like a splash? A healthy amount? The below chart, whilst controversial, can prove some guidance in the delicate balancing act of pouring the right amount of milk.
Don't think that tea, like its caffeinated companion coffee, is exclusively for keeping you awake. Tea is incredibly versatile and you can have a cuppa at any point of the day or evening.
Do try and have an open mind when it comes to trying new teas. If you're a black tea purist, try a mango and chilli black tea. It'll be a new experience, but a delicious one. Don't like Earl Grey as it's too floral? Try a creme earl grey, which is much smoother and has a hint of vanilla. Even Yorkshire Tea have branched out and launched a Biscuit Brew, alleged to have the taste of the classic black tea and the malty taste of biscuits.
Do embrace the fact that you can get away with drinking more cups of tea than you could drink cups of coffee - drinking six cups of coffee could be frowned upon due to the caffeine intake, but the same amount of tea has a smaller amount of caffeine (that is incidentally released in a different way). Drinking several cups of tea could even be beneficial for lowering your risk of heart disease - "With tea, drinking more than six cups a day was linked to the lowest risk." What's not to love?!
Don't disrespect tea. At no point should a mug of tea ever meet a microwave, whether that is by attempting to heat the water in the first place, or trying to reheat the tea that's gone cold. It won't taste the same.
Don't re-use teabags or loose leaf tea*. Granted, I have done this myself in an attempt to make the most of the tea in question, but the flavour's much weaker and disappointing. *A happy compromise is to re-use the loose leaf tea, albeit by adding a bit more fresh tea to give it more taste.
Now, go forth and make a cup of tea, if you haven't already!