Food & Drink

Making someone the perfect cup of tea is almost impossible, according to science

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Gary Ogden
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The reason nobody can make you a perfect cup of tea is because of SCIENCE

You and your cups of tea, eh? Really fickle about the whole thing, aren’t you? You love saying ‘It’s what makes me British’, don’t ya? You’re probably the type to complain about the price of Freddos too, aren’t you? Me? I don’t drink tea, because it makes me sweat, so on the occasion I do have one, I don’t really care what fucking colour it is.

But that’s just me, and I’m sorry if I’ve offended anyone with that previous statement - I understand tea is very precious to many of you. So precious, in fact, that I’m 100% sure that you will have complained about a cup of tea that someone else has made for you, before. Whether to their face, behind their back, or simply through the medium of a screaming fit inside your own head - you have done it.

But there’s a reason nobody can quite get your tea right, and it’s all to do with our old friend: science. A team of experts including Tetley master tea maker Sebastian Michaelis and Dr James Hind of Nottingham Trent University, did a bit of pointless research into the popular drink, and they somehow got to the arbitrary conclusion that there are 24 million different methods to make a cup of tea.

I do not understand how they reached this number, but they did, and it’s fact now, you heathens, so you better deal with it. They also discovered - perhaps more usefully - how the perfect cup of tea is made (or at least the most popular one - you might like soy sauce in yours, I don’t know).

They found that the majority prefer a cup of tea that is brewed for 60 seconds (that’s one minute, fact fans), has a dash of cold semi-skimmed milk, three dunks of the teabag (I don’t know what this means), contains no sugar, and shock horror: is made by the drinker themselves. Weird that the most popular tea would be the one made by the intended recipient, but still.

Sebastian Michaelis said: “What I found fascinating is that there are so many possible ways of making a cup of tea, but there is no secret method for the perfect cuppa.

“Everyone takes their tea a little differently, which is why no one can quite make it as perfectly as you.

“Whether you add milk or not, drink it weak or strong, what is crucial to a great cup of tea is the blending.

“The complexity of the equation reflects the many layers required to craft the nation’s favourite drink.

‘’Blending tea, like blending whisky or champagne, is both a science and an art.

“Without the right balance of flavours, brightness and body, your tea would taste less like a Grand Cru and more like cheap plonk.”

And he knows what he’s talking about, by the way - his taste buds are insured for £1 million! Which reminds me, meet me out back later, we need to go through our plans for stealing his tongue.

Other data uncovered by the research found that 48% of people brew their bags for at least a minute, with a third loudly proclaiming to whoever will listen that brewing time is the most important factor when making tea. Almost three quarters of tea-lovers skip the sugar, with 17% chucking in replacements like honey of artificial sweeteners instead and a peculiar and time-lax contingent of 3% even heat up the milk first.

On the other hand, quick routes to terrible cuppas appeared to be drowning it in milk, breaking the teabag through over-zealous squeezing (chill out, Lenny) and reheating the tea in the microwave, like a serial killer.

Michaelis added one last top tip: 

“As for me, I pour as soon as it’s boiled. Black tea tastes best when brewed in fresh water as close to boiling point as possible.

“As the temperature reduces, the flavours will develop for a better quality taste.”

Lovely stuff. If you drink tea, anyway - I’m happy over here with my Tizer, thank you very much.

(Image: iStock)

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Gary Ogden

Shortlist writer and "the least woke person in the office", Gary Ogden, likes horror movies, Cheestrings, tapping his leg under the desk, "having a drink", PDAs, not having eczema anymore, hiding from responsibility, screaming into the mirror whenever he is alone, and assorted other things. Mainly the eczema thing though. @garyblogden

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