Your attention, please.

When brewing tea it is essential that the water be at a boil before adding the tea.

Not “warm”, not “hot”: boiling.

“Looks warm enough” doesn’t cut it. If the water isn’t bubbling, it isn’t hot enough.

Oh, and if you’re making a cuppa with a tea bag (nothing wrong with that, and my preferred method these days), the milk goes into the cup before the boiling water. Scalded milk just ruins the whole experience.

That is all.


The Ant and the Grasshopper

24 thoughts on “Your attention, please.”

  1. Uh, oh…

    Brewed tea added to milk in the cup, OK. Brewing tea by putting tea and milk in the cup and then adding boiling water won’t work. 🙂

  2. Tea Bags!?!? That’s not tea. It’s tea flavored water. Most tea bags use inferior finings, or tea “dust”. Real tea is made from whole leaf tea, which needs room to expand during the brewing process…which usually takes from 3-5 minutes before straining. Assam and most China Black tea will take to milk, as will quality blends. Darjeeling is best srved straight, as are the green varieties.

  3. But if you put in the milk first, how do you know how much to put in?

  4. According to old wisdom the water shouldn’t be boiling, it should be simmering on the verge of boiling(tiny bubbles, not violent boil.)

    English, Chinese and Japanese do it this way, probably more as well, but I’m ignorant of those.

    That said I’m lazy and use tea bags, lots of sugar, and put the milk in last…

  5. Boiling?

    I use a HotShot[tm], which heats (and stores) the water perfectly for preparing just about any hot beverage, including soup.

  6. I agree with anon about adding tea bags and sugar to boiling water, but skip the milk and add lots of ice. That the way tea is supposed to be drunk in Texas, preferably out of quart jars. 🙂

  7. In the order that they were posted:

    Brewing tea requires at least three vessels: A boiling pot, a brewing pot, and a serving cup.

    There are some extremely high quality teas that are marketed in teabags. Don’t believe me? Gimme your address and I’ll send you a bag or two, Daniel. May I suggest trying Central Market? Also Whole Food Market has a nice selection.

    If you are tea drinker, you know how much milk to put in. I’ll bet that you rarely have to readjust the hot water knob on your home shower when you get in– you already know where it needs to be.

    Tiny bubbles and violent boil are actually the same temperature: 212 degrees (100 C) fahrenheit at STP. The rate of the boil is just the rate at which the water is exchanging volume for temperature.

    Tim, you might find that– A: There’s more to life than the small world you’ve found (good tea is actually a joy for me– a dyed-in-the-wool coffee drinker– to behold), and B: Lots more heterosexual, masculine males of some import drink tea. Winston frickin’ Churchill drank his share, you may be sure.

    Anonymous– a HotShot is a great thing, but it does NOT raise water to boiling– it raises water to about 190 F. Please reference L.D.’s original post.

    And iced tea can be a damned fine thing on a hot day– but skip the sugar, please.

    Best regards,

  8. “The rate of the boil is just the rate at which the water is exchanging volume for temperature. “

    Uh, that should read “mass for heat.” Sorry ’bout that.

  9. Ahem, you are probably a nice fellow, old chap, but only a barbarian would put milk in a cup before adding a tea bag.

    As matt g quite rightly says, there are a number of high quality teas available in tea bags. Try Dilmar or Twinings.

    I had the most appalling cup of tea in my life at LAX. Never again, I carry my own tea bags.

  10. To Matt G, and all. I guess I came across as a snob in my screed on tea bags. I’m a chef, and I was probably echoing the opinions of my various mentors, Euros all, from my early days. To me loose tea does taste better, as I prefer most of my tea on the strong side. I like my teabags two at a time. I like strong coffee, HIGHLY flavorful beers/ales/stouts/porters, whisky neat, Honduran cigars, Copenhagen fine cut and blood rare rib steaks with the bone in, grilled over mesquite. I discovered the joy of mesquite after living in Austin, Dallas and Houston for many years.

    Matt…I use tea bags when I travel, which is often. I also carry a blackthorn shillelagh. I get them from Special Teas on the ‘net. Give them a try. The pyramid bags are pretty cool.

  11. Matt,

    Current model HotShots might stop at 190 but some folks (like me) have the old ones that most definitely do take the water to boiling.

    Thinking about it, I believe they ‘went away’ for a while and I didn’t know they were back. I’m guessing there were lawsuits over the scaldings they could produce followed by the eventual introduction of ‘safer’ units.

  12. Good lord– while looking up the current model HotShots– I see that they look like coffee makers, and sit on the counter. The salvage one that I’ve got sitting under my sink to install right now is designed to be built-in, and dispenses out of the little spigot next to the kitchen faucet.

    I shouldn’t be surprised if there were some lawsuits– a countertop hot water heater! Oh, I don’t feel that the lawsuits should be considered to have any merit if it only works as advertised, but still– there are people that will sue you for selling them a rabid Komodo dragon, even if they demanded “extra foam at the mouth, and nothing but the sharpest reptilian teeth!”

    The whole industry of mass-marketed tea has changed over the last few years. Sure, I still use my tea ball or cheesecloth or even just strain the loose tea in the pot, but there’s so much more to bagged tea than Lipton these days. (And, Gawd help me– I’ve had some very nice cups of tea made with two bags of fresh Lipton.)

    As for your love of intensity, I’m completely, totally, utterly right there with you. But for the dippin’ tobacco, I love all of your listed loves, with quality single-malt scotches to boot. Throw in the requirement for only fresh herbs, and an appreciation for freshly-butchered meat.

    And while mesquite tastes darn good under my steaks and burgers and the like– us former Texas ranch hands marvel that folks actually pay $3.99 a bag for chips of the stuff, considering how much is paid to bulldoze, cut, and burn the stuff off of cattle land.

  13. us former Texas ranch hands marvel that folks actually pay $3.99 a bag for chips of the stuff.

    Growing up on a ranch in Arizona, I thought the same thing until I was moved to a forsaken place called California where I can’t find a good piece of mesquite to save my life 🙁

  14. Lawdog,
    A post about the proper (with pinky firmly extended) method of brewing a proper cup of, by God, tea, nestled between posts about Treason and Personal responsibility. Can we say “eclectic”?
    While we’re on the subject: has anyone heard of and know where I can get something called “Russian Caravan tea”?

    Much obliged,
    Flintlock Tom

  15. Flintlock Tom…I used to drink Twinings Russian Caravan until they stopped selling it in the late 70’s. Switched to Lapsang Souchong…I still like it, iced, with BBQ.

  16. Tea is for wussies… we drink Rooibos Tea in my neck of the woods and in summer we make a delicious iced tea from it.

  17. For those who wish to explore the possibilities, I recommend

    I have been working my way through their product, primarily the Assam teas, enjoying the tea and the service.

    I often add a pinch of lapsang souchang to a large mug or pot. This has been dubbed “campfire tea” by the honorary nephew and “pseudo-campfire tea” by one slightly punctilious but otherwise likable friend.

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