To make a cuppa, all you have to do is take the tea, put it in some hot water, and drink, right? Should be easy enough.
Not so, says the British Standards Institute (BSI). The BSI, which has been around since 1901, is a UK-based company which develops standards for various business models ranging from safety to efficiency. Back in 1980, they created as standard known as BS 6008 or “Method for preparation of a liquor of tea for use in sensory tests”. Recently, that standard got a face-lift.
For $177, you can buy this 6-page standard for brewing and drinking tea. However, I’ll give you a quick synopsis for the amazing cost of free.
Per BSI, there should be 2 grams of tea for every 100 milliliters of water (for all the Americans, that translates to about 0.07 ounces for every half-cup). The water must not be hotter than 85°C (185°F) to ensure that the milk does not scald. A way to judge this simmer without using a thermometer is to check if there is a gentle boil, or, as was explained to me one time, “champagne bubbles”.
The organization is also very specific about the pot, stating that it should be “of white porcelain or glazed earthenware, with its edge partially serrated.” Five milliliters of milk should be added to each cup if it is large (meaning 57 millimeters to 62 millimeters [2 inches to 2.5 inches]) or half that if the amount is small (about 49 millimeters tall [a little under 2 inches]).
The tea should be steeped for six minutes to get the best flavor per the guidelines, though I would argue to be wary of your tea and the time that you take brewing. You do not want to over-brew a delicate tea and thus ruin the flavor of your beverage. A study carried out by Cravendale milk in 2011 felt that tea was better brewed for eight minutes. Still, a delicate white tea or a nice green tea would suffer under these guidelines, though British teas are typically black.
If milk is added after the brewing, then the drink should be between 65°C to 80°C (149°F – 176°F). This is a particular point of contention, since some people believe in adding their milk after to pouring the tea while others argue that putting milk into the tea before is better. However, experiments conducted at Loughborough University in 2003 found that putting the milk in after the boiling water in caused the milk to heat unevenly, causing milk proteins to clump and negatively affect the taste of the tea.
A slice of lemon was never brought up but, if you do add some lemon to your tea, make sure that you do not leave the lemon slice in your cup while you sip. As I always say, make your tea as you see fit and enjoy as you would like, milk added before or after your tea.