Swimming in milk, with heaps of sugar or with the bag left in: we all like our tea to be prepared in different ways. But according to the British Standards Institution, there is only one way to make a proper cup of tea on International Tea Day.
Earlier this year, the organisation released a guide called "preparation of a liquor of tea for use in sensory tests".
In plain English, professional organisations and experts collaborated to create a scientific formula for the perfect cup of tea. The British Tea Producers’ Association, Tea Trade Committee and Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food all helped to create the standards, which were developed in 1980 to help professional tea testers and are officially known as BS 6008.
Adding the milk first is supposedly the proper way to make tea, at least when you’re brewing a pot. This will be a devastating blow to tea purists, who argue that this method is a cardinal sin when it comes to brewing a proper cup.
So to make a proper brew (according to the BSI)…
You need a pot made of porcelain, and there must be at least two grams of tea to every 100ml of water. The temperature can’t go beyond 85 degrees when served but should be above 60 degrees for "optimum flavour and sensation".
The perfect pot size is apparently between 74mm and 78mm wide, and 83mm and 87mm tall. Since the average tea bag contains 1.5g of tea leaves, at least two tea bags should be used for a small pot, and four for a large one.
10 best teapots
10 best teapots
1/10 Whistler Cork Teapot
Brew your tea guilt-free with this teapot made from sustainable cork with ceramic. The soft, round shapes are inspired by pottery from the southern Portuguese region of Alentejo. It also comes in black or white. Makes four cups. £22.50, e-side.co.uk
2/10 Wilko Vintage Floral Teapot Earthenware
A vintage-style tea party doesn’t have to be expensive, proved by this sweet ceramic range. We love the cute bird and doily motif, andthe little chick on top of the lid. Wash it by hand to avoid any dishwasher mishaps. £8, wilko.com
3/10 Seletti - I-Wares Porcelain Teapot
Seletti has taken a classic baroque-style design and given it a twist; a bright handle and an eye (yes, you read that right) embossed in the middle. Made from fine porcelain, this one will be a tea-party talking point. £31, amara.com
4/10 Chelsea Glass Teapot with Infuser
Watch your tea while it brews in this transparent teapot. It comes with a removable stainless steel infuser that you can take out once your tea is just the right hue. There’s also a spout filter to catch any tea leaves as you pour. £30, whittard.co.uk
5/10 Katie Alice English Garden Teapot
With a design inspired by vintage wallpaper, this pretty piece harks back to a bygone era. But don’t be fooled by its old-fashioned looks, it can handle mod cons, including dishwashers and microwaves. £25, kaleidoscope.co.uk
6/10 Melody Rose Dragonfly Teapot
The dragonflies on this elegant bone china teapot are striking on the white background, and the gilded gold top makes it look extra-special. This is another piece worth hand washing. £69, amara.com
7/10 Portmeirion Vintage Kellogg’s Teapot
We love this kitsch, retro teapot featuring iconic designs from the ubiquitous cereal-maker. It’ll fit right in on your breakfast table with the toast, eggs and orange juice. And it can hold over a litre. £35.60, amazon.co.uk
8/10 Oliver Bonas Rosalie Teapot
This pot’s bold, hand-drawn flowers on bright blue are a refreshing change to more traditional daintily-patterned crockery. £22, oliverbonas.com
9/10 Tenshi Cast Iron Tetsubin Teapot
Tea is big in Japan and this piece, inspired by cast iron tetsubin pots traditionally used for serving it, will look just as good over here. It has a removable tea infuser and makes two larger brews or several small ones if you have matching gong fu style cups. Be warned: it gets hot, so use a trivet. £33, notonthehighstreet.com
10/10 Alice in Wonderland Tea Party Teapot
Don’t let Alice and Co have all the fun. Throw your own tea party with this fine bone china teapot inspired by Lewis Carroll. This pot has a capacity of 1200ml, so there will be plenty of tea to go around for you, the Mad Hatter, the March Hare and the White Rabbit. £35, whittard.co.uk
Timing is important. According to the BSI the perfect brewing time is six minutes (also known as steeping) which extracts the flavours from the tea leaves.
Of course everyone has their favourite method, and the traditional "pour hot water into a mug, chuck the tea bag in and add a splash of milk" never hurt anyone.
Famous quotes about tea
"A cup of tea would restore my normality."- Douglas Adams
"Some people will tell you there is a great deal of poetry and fine sentiment in a chest of tea." – Ralph Waldo Emerson
"I am in no way interested in immortality, but only in the taste of tea." - Lu T’ung
"Where there’s tea, there’s hope." – Arthur Wing Pinero
"Tea! Bless ordinary everyday afternoon tea!" Agatha Christie.
"The milk-first school can bring forward some fairly strong arguments, but I maintain that my own argument is unanswerable.
"This is that, by putting the tea in first and stirring as one pours, one can exactly regulate the amount of milk whereas one is liable to put in too much milk if one does it the other way round." - George OrwellReuse content