How to Make the Best Cup of Tea You’ve Ever Had

by Ivory Soap

Thank you for visiting Little House in the Suburbs. If you like what you see, please SUBSCRIBE.

America may have its legendary tale of the Boston Tea Party of 1773 (when Samuel Adams and the Sons of Liberty threw more than 340 chests of tea off three ships moored in Boston harbor), but when it comes to making the perfect cup of tea, it pays to look to the British. Long known for their love of the drink, people in the United Kingdom make up one of the biggest tea drinking populations on earth, and consume roughly 165 million cups each day.

Last year the well-regarded British Standards Institute (BSI), based in London, released their official best-practice guidelines to make a good “cuppa.” The BSI, a business standards firm, was formed back in 1901 as the world’s first National Standards Body, and is best known for its BSI Kitemark. This symbol denotes excellence and is recognized across the globe. The Kitemark can be found on all sorts of product types, including everything from manholes to planes.

When working on their new tea guidelines, the BSI collaborated with a range of top groups to come up with its best practices. It worked with, for example, the British Tea Producers’ Association, the Tea Trade Committee, and the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. The guide that was produced as a result of the collaboration is titled “Preparation of a liquor of tea for use in sensory tests “, and is said to be the scientific formula for the perfect cup of tea.

Whether you like to sip on black tea in the morning, a refreshing cup of green tea at lunch, or some relaxing, herbal valerian root tea before bed, you should consider following the right recipe to enjoy the best tea each time. Read on for some handy tips from the BSI guidelines that you can incorporate into your routine today.


Use Proper Glassware

The first step in making a proper cup of tea is, according to the BSI report, using the right kind of pots. These should be made of either glazed earthenware or porcelain, and be sized between 2.91 and 3.07 inches wide, and 3.27 to 3.42 inches tall. The pot should not exceed 10.75 fluid ounces either, and must also have a lid.

When it comes to what kind of vessel you should drink from, the BSI suggests that the best mugs for tea are quite large. They should be between 2.24 and 2.48 inches high, by around 4.29 inches.

Measure the Amount of Tea Carefully

A good cuppa also depends on using the right amount of tea. The BSI report mentions that there should be a minimum of two grams of tea to every 3.38 fluid ounces of water. Based on the fact that the average tea bag contains roughly 1.5 grams of tea leaves, this means that, for a large-sized pot (as mentioned above) you will generally need at least four tea bags.

Milk Goes First

It has been a contentious matter debated for years, but according to the BSI, there is only one right answer when it comes to deciding whether to initially put milk or tea in a cup. The organization’s report says that, when you’re drinking tea with a dash of milk, your milk should be poured into the cup first. Follow it up with tea second, because this way the milk will mix much more evenly through the beverage than if it is added later.

Monitor the Temperature

Temperature is another thing you should take into consideration when trying to make the perfect cup of tea. It is said that the right number for normal black tea, as well as herbal teas, is freshly boiled water with a temperature of about 203 degrees Fahrenheit. If, on the other hand, you’re making green tea or white tea, the water needs to be a tad cooler (from 160°F to 203°F), so you should wait at least 30 seconds before you pour it over tea leaves.

Don’t Forget Brew Time

How long tea is left to steep is, of course, another factor that can affect the taste of a cuppa. Steeping — the process whereby you soak solid tea leaves in water so that the flavors can be extracted — requires patience if you want the best brew. The leaves should be infused for about six minutes in order for all of the molecules in the tea to have time to emerge and have an influence on each other.



Guest Post by the very talented, Cher Zevala.

Thank you, Cher!

Disclaimer: This post may contain a link to an affiliate.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

MCM May 21, 2016 at 6:50 am

I wondered about the water temperature in this article. I work for a company that uses technical standards all the time and I am one of the few tea drinkers in the office, so I thought it would be funny to bring in a tea standard. I did a bit of light Googling. According to the standard, the pot is filled with freshly boiling (i.e., 212ºF); the temperature for pouring it from the pot into the cup is 160ºF – 203º to prevent it from scalding the milk (if it’s been sitting for six minutes, it probably is that cool). Herbal, green, and white teas are not covered by the standard; however, as far as I know herbal teas need boiling water poured over them and have a similar steeping time to black tea. Water temperatures are lower and steeping times are shorter for green and white teas.

Thanks for bringing the standard to my attention. It will amuse the engineers in our coffee-drinking office! 🙂 For other nerds out there, the standard is BS 6008/ISO 3103.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: