We are often asked about the perfect cup. Here are a few pointers for something really special
The quality of the water makes a difference – after all it’s the main ingredient in your cup. The ancient Chinese tea scholar Lu Yu recommended using spring water from the same region as the tea. Our recommendations are somewhat easier to achieve! Spring water is clearly the best, but if you do use tap water then be sure to filter it first – chlorine can alter the flavour of the tea. Also remember to use fresh water each time you boil the kettle. This is because every time you boil water you reduce the oxygen levels, and oxygen plays a key role in delivering taste.
Different teas require different brewing temperatures to bring out their best qualities. Lighter teas such as green and white teas can taste bitter or sharp if brewed too hot. This is because the heat scalds the leaves so they release astringent tannins – it also destroys some of their complex aroma compounds. So wait two to three minutes before infusing a white or green tea. For darjeeling and oolong teas wait just a few moments after boiling the kettle. And for all other black and rooibos teas you can brew straight away once the kettle has boiled.
How long you brew your tea for is mainly down to personal taste. It’s worth experimenting with the different teas to get your cup just the way you like it. As a general guide, however, you should brew for between one and five minutes, depending on the tea type. Infusing a tea for too long can result in an over concentration of tannins which upsets the balance of flavours and gives the brew a disagreeable, astringent flavour (rooibos and herbal teas are the exception to this rule). Due to the high quality of our teas you can actually gain two or three brews per bag from our green and white teas – just allow longer for brewing on each occasion.
For us tea drinking is a special moment, a time out, wherever you are and at any time of the day. Slowing down allows you to notice and savour your tea's intricate tastes and sustaining properties. Go for quality teas whenever you can (it makes a difference!) and use all five senses to appreciate what is in your cup. To make the most of the flavours, avoid adding milk and sugar to lighter, more fragrant teas, such as oolongs, white and green teas. It is said that once you have tasted a really fine cup of tea, you will never forget the taste and experience. As a tea master once told us, "Drinking tea makes you happy. It calms you down but makes you attentive; it's an aid to meditation and it’s good for your health".