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How do you make the perfect cup of (black) tea?

We recently tested black teabags to see which one tastes best - Taylors of Harrogate Yorkshire Tea Proper Black Tea came out on top. But if you ask 10 people how to make the perfect cup of tea, you’ll get 10 very different answers – and probably end up in an argument. People take their tea very seriously!

We asked CHOICE staff and our Facebook community how they make the perfect cup of tea. Here’s what they said.

Let us know how you take your tea - preferred brand, brewing method etc.

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Hi @ajohnson.

@vax2000 did a thread a while ago in relation to tea that community member buy…

It is thread may also be of interest.

In relation to tea making (I drink tea but not coffee), I let the tea steep for at least a miniute (2 if I have time) and only add milk at the end.

I find a longer steeping brings out the flavour of the tea and also it become less bitter.

I also prefer loose tea over tea bags, but often use teabags as they are more convenient, especially if it is tea for one.

Edit: We also use Kmart coffee plungers for a tea pot. The plunger is only used for tea (to prevent flavour transfer) and have two, one which does about 3-4 mugs and another which does one mug.They work really well when making tea as a up and down plunge mixes the tea leaves and tea.

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I use Dilmah decaffeinated tea bags . I have a 2 cup tea pot wit an infuser . I place one tea bag in the infuser , boil the water and let the kettle sit for about a minute . I then fill the teapot with the infuser in it . Wait about 2 minutes and then pour the tea .

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On milk first or last I found the idea that milk first was lower class quite interesting. Of all the preferences given only one gave a reason, that adding milk first stopped the brewing. This makes sense for teabags but for leaf tea I assume that you strain it (unless you drink the Koala tea of Mercy) or use a tea ball so by the time it hits the cup it is no longer brewing anyway, so this reason is irrelevant.

The web gives many opinions on milk first or last but none with a very convincing reason for it. The only one that makes any sense at all is milk first as this heats the milk more slowly and so prevent curdling. Unless your milk is very stale, and arguably should not be put in tea, it won’t curdle anyway, so why bother?

So what have I learned? 91% of Choicers say milk last but don’t know why, maybe they want to be seen as upper class. What do I do? Milk first. Why? Grandma did it that way and that looks like the reason behind it all.

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The perfect cup of (black) tea is when I have nothing to do with it! Not being a tea drinker, I never seem to be able to get it just right. :expressionless: Oh well.

I’m happy to stick with coffee. :slight_smile:

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How wonderful a topic.
Infinitely easier than string theory to understand, but likely as evasive in it’s proving?

The perfect cup of team requites a tea pot and definitely no tea bags. Tea bags are perfectly acceptable when in a hurry.

I think more than 50% of the enjoyment of the cup of tea comes from the making, the view from the tea table, and the company. A quality ceramic tea pot, well worn and battered is perfect. Or a clear glass pot if you prefer less character. Both add their own sense of occasion. The table dressing, cups but not mugs, and plates on the side all add to the moment. Unless there is only one, in which instance any rules apply.

Other than preheating the pot and brewing for enough time (no rush) at a temperature suited to your tea, is it worth judging one tea over any other.

At it’s best any strong earthy, robust black tea with full cream milk added to taste is great. Thinly sliced cheese and crackers on the side.

Sometimes a selectively hand picked Darjeeling first flush hits the spot, with a hint of fresh cut meadows, and delicate tannins. (Well, If it’s good enough for others to go on about all the flavours and attributes in a coffee or a cask of cheap wine, it must be ok to do so for a cuppa!). No milk, with a dash of honey if you prefer.

An Aside,
Green tea and matcha also count, circumstances and menu dependant.

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I sometimes have afternoon tea at home and use Twinings Afternoon Tea bags. Recently one of my neighbors asked me over for a cup of tea and they had Twinings Decaf tea bags.
I bought some and have those now, on the rare occasion I make a cup for myself.
As I like weak tea it only takes a short while before I take out the tea bag.
I add milk last, it cools down the brew and I can see the colour as I add the milk. Then I add 2 of sugar.
And usually I only finish half of the mug
contents.

In China they served a beautiful Buckwheat tea with meals, I hadn’t had
any before and I really loved it.
Haven’t been able to buy any in Melbourne.
I tried a specialty tea shop in the CBD, a Japanese shop I think,
but I’m not sure it’s the one I’m looking
for so did not buy any.

@phb, help please? :pray:

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Try a good Asian/Chinese supermarket. Take this following characters and ask the store’s staff and they should be able to point you in the right direction if they stock the tea…

苦荞茶 (pinyin is ‘ku qiao-cha’).

ku qiao translates into buckwheat and cha is tea.

There are different buckwheat (Fagopyrum tataricum) forms such as tartary, ku qiao, green or bitter buckwheat. Each one made into a tea will have a different taste and characteristics.

It is likely to come either in a buckwheat grains/grounds or dried granules similar to say instant coffee. If it is available, you may have to try a few different ones to see which one best replicates that consumed in China. I personally would try and get buckwheat grains/grounds rather than dried granules (these are likely to be more bitter in taste).

Just googling, this bricks and mortar store has one (Buckwheat green tea) but other Asian supermarkets are likely to also have ones as well if you hunt around. Also try googling ‘Chinese tea shop Melbourne’ as there are a number of specialist Chinese Teas shops which may also have it as well. Maybe call them to minimise time spent hunting.

It may be able to be bought online such as this one.

Ebay also has some but check that they are an Australian seller posting from within Australia as it could be something that attracts quarantine (Biosecurity) services if it is posted into Australia from a foreign country.

Some restaurants in my neck of the woods (Sunnybank in Brisbane) also sell it as an accompaniment to a meal. If you do see it on a menu, it might not hurt in asking where they got it from if it tastes similar to the one you had in China.

And last option would be to visit a Traditional Chinese Medicine shop as it it likely to be used in one of the tea elixirs prepared there.

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Should have also said that if you can recall the colour of the tea in China (dark brown, orange, greenish etc), this may narrow down the likely suspects when shopping.

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Thank you so much @phb for all that very useful info! :blush:

From googling ‘Chinese tea shops’
I got the Lupicia shop, it’s actually Japanese and they called it Soba-Cha which confused me, but as you say, it’s the same as Buckwheat.
As it cost $9.00 for 50g I didn’t want
to get something I wasn’t sure of.
The man there said that the product being from Japan meant it was free from chemicals and pesticides, and
recited a long list of health benefits resulting from drinking that tea.

I will have fun shopping around for it,
(I’m not keen on shopping on line or on
eBay).
Thank you again, much appreciated. :blush:

Edit :clear colour, like water.

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I get a lot of flack from people because I always time my tea brewing - 2 minutes for green or chamomile, 4 minutes for black teas and just leave the bag for peppermint… This has gotten much easier since I got an Apple Watch. I even set up a shortcut with Siri “Siri I’m making tea” which starts a four minute timer… very rarely I have milk and always put it in after I’ve removed the tea, and sometimes (just because I currently have a fantastic local product) I add a half a teaspoon of honey.

Ironically, I’m actually a coffee drinker. I have been drinking tea like smokers use nicotine patches to try and wean myself off the horrific levels of caffeine I usually consume. I tried instant coffee instead of my usual black pour over brew, but it just filled me with sadness so I switched at least two of my daily brews to tea!

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@KAAAAAREN87, if you haven’t already, do try a roasted barley coffee substitute like Caro, readily available in supermarkets.

From Wikipedia:
Caro is sold under the name Pero in the U.S. by InterNatural Foods.
Caro is a brand of roasted grain drink, a caffeine-free coffee substitute made of roasted barley, malted barley, chicory, and rye. It is manufactured by Nestlé and was first introduced in West Germany in 1954. It is available throughout Europe as well as other markets including New Zealand and Australia.

Also, a friend from South Africa pointed out to me, in a South African
grocery store, small jars of chicory and she said in her country it is given to children instead of coffee.

I hope that you’ll find a substitute coffee
so that you won’t have to ‘feel sad’ :yellow_heart:

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The first coffee I ever drank was when I was 9 and it was Bushell’s Coffee & Chickory essence and milk.

https://shop.coles.com.au/a/a-qld-fnq-earlville/product/bushells-coffee-chicory-essence

I was surprised to see that it still available as I believed that it had disappeared sometime after WWII when chickory was used instead of coffee due to rationing.

And an alternative available at Woollies.

https://www.woolworths.com.au/shop/productdetails/159844/?googleshop=true&store_code=woolworths_supermarkets_2883&cvosrc=ppc.google_lia.&cvo_campaign=&cvo_crid=316958566509&Matchtype=&cmpid=smsm:ds:GOOGLE:Woolies_LIAs%20-%20High%20Value:PRODUCT_GROUP&ds_rl=1260749&gclid=CjwKCAjwxt_tBRAXEiwAENY8hVzpGhR_iiTD8JEbnu71vkE_9hbm5SibCOCeqCp2Djyc0_56_sZ5bBoCPtMQAvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds

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Also Ecco (Nestle) and Natures Cuppa are similar

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I am trying to produce less waste, so only loose tea for me. To a shop bought tea spoon of black tea I add mint, lavender, amaranth leaves (add a beautiful red colour), pieces of orange peel, and calendula flowers, all from my garden. The taste is heavenly!

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I found it very hard to get any Buckwheat tea at all, even in China Town in Melbourne CBD and in Clayton Rd Clayton, where there are many Chinese stores.
But yesterday I met for coffee with my Singaporean friend and she handed me a packet of Sobacha her husband very kindly has got for me.

It’s from the Japanese tea shop I firstly looked at, and the packet says “Sobacha from Azumino, Shinshu.
It seems to be like the one I had in China. But a teaspoon to a cup of water is a bit strong, will have to adjust the dosage.
I remember the price at that shop:
over $9.00 per 50g, makes the tea a bit
precious.

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Pleased you eventually got some.

Also keep topping up the pot with hot water rather than discarding the contents like you do with traditional black tea. It should brew many pots with flavour softening after a refill with water. Disgard then after the tea sessiin is finished.

Happy drinking…

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