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The Great Tea Debate: Do you brew for long enough?


The cup of tea is, and always will be, quintessentially British. But as a nation of tea drinkers — and we’re talking Builder’s Tea, not something you’ll find in a floral package on the shelves of your local health food store — we’re a little divided on how to drink our favourite hot beverage.

Recent research by the British Science Association, released to mark British Science Week, reveals that 80 percent of U.K. tea drinkers aren’t preparing it correctly.

Apparently the perfect brewing time for a cup of tea is up to five minutes. But only 16 percent of the 1,000 U.K. adults who took part in the survey leave their tea bag in the cup for between two and five minutes, which scientists say is the optimum brewing time to get the very best flavour from the tea.

Are we in such a rush that we don’t have time to stop and stew the tea?

More: Tea101: Types of tea and their health benefits

And while we’re on the subject, what about the controversial milk-adding stage? Does milk go into the cup before or after the water? It’s a topic that’s been much debated and we don’t seem any closer to a definitive answer.

Earlier this year the British Standards Institution stated that milk should go in the cup before the tea bag, which goes against the grain for millions of tea drinkers, such as George Orwell, who said: “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.”

If you fancy carrying out your own tea experiment, follow these tips from the British Science Association. And remember — your #PerfectCuppa may be very different to someone else’s…

How to make a perfect cup of tea

British Science Week 2015 runs from March 13 to March 22.

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