Canadians might consider themselves a nation of coffee drinkers but we love our tea too. We drink almost nine billion cups of tea each year. That’s 264 cups each.
After water, tea is the most popular drink in the world. A recent study revealed drinking tea can improve brain health and help prevent dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases and improve the brain’s ability to focus. (Research and information presented at the International Scientific Symposium on Tea and Health in Washington, DC.)
Both black tea (Orange Pekoe) and green tea contain fluoride. Studies suggest that a daily dose of 12 ounces of black tea or eight ounces of green tea may contain enough fluoride to reduce tooth decay.
George Orwell, the British author and journalist, may have been a socialist but he was a fascist about his tea, which he called one of the mainstays of civilization. There are 11 rules for perfect tea-making,
“rules from which nobody should dare depart,” he said.
1. Use tea from India or Ceylon (Sri Lanka), not China.
2. Use a teapot, preferably ceramic.
3. Warm the pot over direct heat.
4. Tea should be strong: six spoons of leaves per one litre.
5. Let the leaves move around the pot, no bags or strainers.
6. Take the pot to the boiling kettle.
7. Stir or shake the pot.
8. Drink out of a tall, mug-shaped tea cup.
9. Don’t add creamy milk.
10. Add milk to the tea, not vice versa.
11. No sugar.
Milk in first
Certainly for much of the 20th century, methods of preparing tea were the subject of some snobbery. The British expression “rather milk in first” people or MIFs refers to lower classes. However, the Royal Society of Chemistry in Britain says the MIFs have it right and officially pooh-poohs the tea-in-first method recommended by Orwell.
It seems that dribbling a stream of milk into hot water makes “denaturation of milk proteins” more likely and spoils the milk.
“At high temperatures, milk proteins, which are normally all curled up foetus-like, begin to unfold and link together in clumps. This is what happens in ultra heat-treated milk, and is why it doesn’t taste as good as fresh milk,” says Dr. Andrew Stapley of the Royal Society of Chemistry.
He recommends having “the chilled milk massed at the bottom of the cup, awaiting the stream of hot tea. This allows the milk to cool the tea, rather than the tea ruinously raise the temperature of the milk.”
Ingredients: Loose leaf Assam tea, soft water, fresh chilled milk, white sugar
Implements: Kettle, ceramic teapot, large ceramic mug, fine mesh tea strainer, teaspoon
1. Draw fresh soft water and place in the kettle and boil.
2. Place one rounded teaspoon of tea per cup into pot.
3. Take the pot to the kettle as it is boiling, pour on to the leaves and stir.
4. Leave to brew for three minutes.
5. The ideal receptacle is a ceramic mug.
6. Pour milk into the cup first followed by the tea, aiming to achieve a colour that is rich and attractive.
7. Add sugar to taste.
8. Drink at 60-65C, to avoid vulgar slurping which results from trying to drink tea at too high a temperature.
1. Boil fresh water to at least 98.5 degrees (36 C).
2. Pour the freshly boiled water onto the bag (in the cup) and brew for three to five minutes.
3. Squeeze the bag against the side of the cup with a spoon for two seconds.
4. Stir once, then squeeze for another two seconds.
5. Remove bag.
6. Add milk. For a standard 270 mL (9 oz) mug, the optimum amount of milk is 16 mL (1 tbsp). (Green, herbal or red herbal teas do not need milk.)
7. Add sugar or honey to suit taste and enjoy a perfect cup.