I often cringe when I see someone throw a tea bag on top of the water that has been boiled and sitting for a minute or two, then carelessly splash in milk. Yes, it happens.
However, it’s not hard to make a great cup of English Tea.
Making a cup of tea can be a chore, a mindless routine, or a mindful experience. Each way of crafting your cup of English Tea or, shall we say, Black Tea will end in a completely different result.
This is how I create the perfect cup of English Tea every single day, well, multiple times a day, actually.
Loose Leaf or Bags?
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Firstly, let’s finish this debate.
People often ask me this question, like it is a black or white, truth or dare, or a do or die type of thing.
The real answer is. It depends.
Now, I know a lot of tea connoisseurs will disagree with me here, I can hear them shouting down “loose leaf tea is always better.”
But I disagree.
Some tea bags and especially pyramid bags these days encapsulate a lot of high-quality tea and give the leaves room to expand, and steep; tea bags don’t have to be a second-rate thing.
Plus, you will find that pyramid bags can also have more tea content and better quality tea too.
And, to top it off most people are time-poor these days, so bags can be an excellent option.
However, if you do go down the bag path, try a pyramid bag, test out a different tea brand, explore, but whatever you do, don’t settle for an average cup of tea!
Furthermore, my mother had a fridge magnet saying:
“Life’s too short for bad wine”Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
I love this quote, but I would like to add to the fridge magnet collection with another one.
Life’s too short for crap tea.
Ok, now let’s check how to make a cup of English Tea with tea bags.
How to Make a Cup of English Tea With Tea Bags (3 Easy Steps)
Mug, cup, glass, boot? I don’t mind what you choose to brew your English tea in as along as you pre-heat the mug before you put the tea bag in. Not pre-heating a mug is the equivalent of not warming up an old car in the winter, well maybe that is a bit extreme.
But heating up a mug before putting in the water that you use will keep things hotter for longer and allow the full flavor of tea to come out of that bag!
Is your Mug, cup or boot nice and hot? Great. Time to put in the bag (not the milk yet, people.)
Put the bag in and carefully pour some boiling water straight onto the tea hitting about the 3/4 full mark. (note every cup or mug is different in size and it is always better to pour less than more).
Bag soaked and nice hot water poured in? Now give the bag a jiggle 6 to 8 times.
Now, the most important point.
Put a saucer or small plate on top of the cup or mug and keep the heat in for 4-5 mins! (4m 30s is the sweet spot for me, but this will differ with each tea, trial and error my friends, trial and error).
I know what you might be thinking, “I don’t have that time in the morning; I need to drink and get off to work.”
My answer is, Make The Time!
Letting your tea brew in the perfect circumstances allows for far greater flavor and depth, and if not, you have the wrong English Tea.
I have tested many, many different times and tea’s and my favorite teabags at the moment, and the perfect amount of time is 4m 30s exactly.
So, why risk anything? Use a tea timer. Don’t use a phone! Why? Because phones are the ultimate distraction.
Keep things simple, plus your mind ends up relating the alarm to a nice hot cup of tea; it’s the best alarm you will ever hear!
Ok, what about milk? And honey? Maybe sugar?
This is where it is completely up to your personal taste preferences.
So, add what you like, stir and sip!
Although my grandfather will disagree with me here, I still believe in adding milk after the tea is better, as you can gradually add a touch more milk to get the perfect color or strength.
Pouring milk in initially is a bad idea as you can never really predict things and there is no going back people; weak tea is weak tea! For me, there is nothing worse in life. Well, there are a few things, but weak tea is up there.
Also, if you are adding sugar, honey, or sweetener, add it before the milk, as it mixes easier when the tea is hotter. Sure, you can always add hot milk, but I mean, how far do you go here, people?
The only time I heat the milk is if it is really cold and I plan to have numerous cups, normally with my partner and my little dog Ted, watching from below, yes I give him a tiny lick of the remnants, he loves it.
This is Ted, waiting for tea.
Time to brew with loose-leaf tea.
How to Make a Cup of English Tea With Loose Leaf (3 Easy Steps)
Ok, this takes longer, and I know you are time-poor, but this is a big but.
You will always get a bigger, generally fuller flavor from loose-leaf tea. Sure the leaves are generally better quality, but you can also play around with the amount of tea you put into the pot.
And, to be honest, it is not much more of an effort. So, If you have been drinking tea using tea bags and never had loose leaf, do yourself a favor. Buy yourself a simple teapot, and some good loose-leaf tea, and follow the below steps for a great cup of tea!
Pre-heat, pre-heat, pre-heat.
As I mentioned with the tea bag method, it is absolutely essential to have a preheated pot. Why? Pots have a large cold surface area, and the boiling water will cool down quickly upon pouring from the kettle.
This means the leaves won’t be in contact with the boiling water for long enough, and also, your second cup with being lukewarm, yuck.
Key Pointers for Tea Pots
- Preheat the pot with hot tap water whilst your kettle is boiling
- Ideally, a crockery teapot over a glass teapot as it will hold the heat for longer, aka better insulated
- If it is winter or cold where you are, use a tea cosie, they make a huge difference in keeping your tea nice and warm for longer.
Ok, let’s pour out the hot tap water and add some nice English Tea into our hot pre-heated teapot!
Choose your favorite English Tea, try a new brand or two and get a feel for what you like.
I personally go through stages and also love buying different types of tea when I travel, so although I have my regular go-to’s in the tea world, I love mixing things up.
Ok, now we go into trial-and-error mode.
Put one heaped teaspoon of tea per cup you will make. This is an art, not a science, but as a general rule, this should work.
Now, add in enough water to cover the tea and provide you those two or three cups (whichever you accounted for when you added the scoops of tea) and no more water and let things brew.
You don’t want to add too much water otherwise, you are in for a watery, tasteless cup of English Tea. A personal nightmare for me, something I get served at a cafe, under-brewed, nothing preheated, reminding me of dishwater.
Anyway, you don’t want that, and I hope you never get it, so one heaped teaspoon of tea per cup as a general rule.
Check out my favorite English Teas in this article.
- Once the tea is in, add the appropriate amount of hot water, give the strainer a jiggle and turn the teapot around 3 times clockwise. Yes, I might sound mad here, but it is something my great uncle always did, and I find quite nostalgic, so I do it too.
It also moves the water around through the tea leaves, so there is a point to it all.
- Put the lid on and the tea cosie if you have one, and let the make happen; let the tea brew or steep for four to five minutes. Use an alarm and wait for that magic “beep beep.”
- Whilst the tea is brewing, pre-heat the cups in anticipation; it really will make all the difference.
- I had to add this in. As a tea drinker, if I go to a cafe that is all about coffee, I rarely order tea; I order coffee, as more often than not, tea is 2nd on the list of importance, and you won’t be getting a good cup!
Ok, your tea timer has alerted you to an absolutely beautiful brew, time to pour.
Throw out the water warming your cups, pour in your fresh hot English Tea and add milk and sweetener as needed.
Now it is time to sip and enjoy; take a moment to enjoy this cup you have so lovingly made.
The Final Word – How To Make a Cup Of English Tea
Making tea can be done in many different ways, but by following the above steps and tips, you will have the best chance of one amazingly satisfying cup.
I personally go through stages.
Often I will always use my trusty old teapot and other times I will use a great quality tea bag, but either way, there are two things I do every time.
Preheat & “give it time.”
I don’t care how much of a rush I am in, the cup/pot gets pre-heated, and once that water hits the leaves, the tea timer goes on for 4m 30s.
Many people have said to me, “I don’t have the time to wait around to let my tea brew”, I personally think that those types of people are the ones that need that time to reflect and use it as a time to “just be”, or perhaps turn it into a short meditation session?