Tea is a drink with a truly remarkable history and a culture stretching back thousands of years; from the elaborate tea rituals that are still central to both Chinese and Japanese culture to the classic “cuppa” that remains a mainstay of life in the United Kingdom, it is clear that tea plays an incredibly important role in civilizations across the globe.
Tea Traditions: A Global Phenomenon
There is surely a profound reason for tea’s enduring popularity. While drinking coffee tends to make most of us jittery if not more creative and energetic in the process, most people would probably associate the drinking of tea with feelings of calmness, centeredness, and self-reflection.
Indeed, it is little wonder that the culture of tea has often been linked with the pursuit of mindfulness and meditation that has been practiced by Buddhist monks for many generations. Truly, the drinking of tea is and always has been an almost mystical experience.
Season of Mists
Many tea devotees regard autumn as the perfect season for tea drinking. Certainly, this time of year is a natural fit for the drink: The “season of mists and mellow fruitfulness” as the poet John Keats called it perfectly complements quiet moments with warming cups of tea.
Views on how to properly prepare a perfect cup of tea are as endless as they are complex; in countries like Japan, in fact, some devotees of tea culture raised the practice of tea-drinking to such a high art that specific mountain springs were analyzed for the quality of water they provided for tea ceremonies.
Moreover, the author George Orwell once wrote an essay about the process of making the perfect cup of tea. Orwell was no slouch when it came to tea-making and his advice to readers had all the hallmarks of a genuine tea control freak.
With all due respect to George Orwell, however, one doesn’t have to make tea-drinking into a competition in order to enjoy a good cup of tea. And you certainly don’t have to make your autumn tea experience into an elaborate ritual to enjoy this wonderful drink.
The Great British “Cuppa”
Indeed, sometimes a great cup of tea is a very easy thing to make. The classic “cuppa” still popular in the UK is a great example of how to make a wonderful cup of tea that is an absolutely perfect fit for fall weather.
To start, a good UK-style cuppa begins with finding the right tea to use. Seemingly everyone in the UK has their own preferences when it comes to bagged teas; certainly, there is competition in the UK between different brands and their respective adherents. Even the Queen of England is known for having her own favorite tea suppliers.
Most seasoned tea aficionados in the UK tend to favor the classic “cuppa” when using bagged teas. This is a great place to start when making a perfect drink for autumn. Countries like England have long favored black or “breakfast” teas blended from plants grown in regions of India and East Africa such as Assam or Kenya.
Finding New Favorites
While the PG Tips bagged tea company certainly has its diehard devotees in the UK, it is Yorkshire Tea that has arguably the best flavor among bagged teas. A step up from the company’s standard line of teas is Yorkshire Gold; this wonderful tea blend is the standard by which bagged teas in the UK are judged.
In Ireland, Barry’s Tea and specifically Barry’s Gold Blend is far and away the closest thing that the country has to a national drink next to Guinness Stout. Barry’s Gold and Yorkshire Gold are similar in many ways; however, trying both back-to-back can be an experience in and of itself. Barry’s Gold has a smokier flavor than Yorkshire’s premier blend, but Yorkshire seems to have the best all-around taste.
Making the Perfect Cuppa
To make a classic cuppa, firstly, a person should ideally use a teapot. To begin, swish a bit of boiling water around in the teapot to ensure that the boiling water will stay hot once you pour it in. Secondly, add two bags of your favorite tea into the pot along with boiling water. A common adage in the UK has it that a person should put in one bag for themselves and one bag in for the teapot.
Most people tend to let their tea steep in the teapot for between three and five minutes. Left in longer, bagged tea can begin to take on a bit of an acrid taste. Removing the teabags with a spoon at this point is fine.
Next, tea should be poured into a cup or into a mug. Adding only a small bit of milk is preferred in countries like England and Scotland; half a thimbleful is more than enough to complement the tea’s flavor without diminishing its taste.
That said, everyone has their own favorite way of drinking tea. There is certainly nothing wrong with adding more milk or adding sugar to create a drink that you’re happy with. For individuals who don’t like to add milk to their tea, a tiny bit of lemon squeezed directly into a teacup or mug can really bring out interesting flavors.
The Great British Builder’s Tea
Of course, individuals can also make what is known as “builder’s tea” if they don’t have a teapot handy. The process of making builder’s tea is similar to that of making tea in a teapot: Simply swish boiling water around in your favorite mug, place in a tea bag of your choice followed by boiling water, let the tea steep for between three and five minutes, add a dash of milk, and voilà!
Tea made in true British fashion tastes wonderful; on an autumn day, having a classic cuppa is sheer bliss. Becoming a tea aficionado doesn’t get much better than this! Were you inspired by these tea idea? Make your life and tea-making easier with an instant boiler.