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19th Apr 2024

Tea expert says you should never squeeze the teabag when making a cup

Ryan Price

They also warned never to re-boil kettle water.

Tea-making habits are as hard to break as any other common practice.

Whether you put milk in first, flick the kettle off before it has fully boiled or keep the tea bag in while you drink, everyone has their own way of making a brew and it’s very hard to change it.

Two very common methods adopted by many Brits include squeezing the tea bag to get every last drop out before removing it from the mug, and re-boiling the kettle within five or ten minutes of initially boiling it, just to make sure the water is nice and hot.

Ahead of National Tea Day, which takes place on 21st April, a group of combined experts from Wren Kitchens and Whittard have clarified some do’s and dont’s of making a ‘proper brew’.

First and foremost they warned against one particular act that we believe many Brits do – squeezing the tea bag before removing it from the mug.

According to Angela Pryce, Senior Tea Buyer at Whittard, you should “never squeeze your teabags, as this can make your tea taste bitter due to the release of tannic acids.” Instead, they suggest: “Lift it out carefully after 3-5 minutes of brewing.”

So, there you go, if you’ve ever wondered why your tea sometimes tastes a bit off, it’s likely because of this frequently used practice.

Angela was also on hand to answer some other highly sought after questions. When asked what goes into the mug first, hot water or milk, she revealed: “That is such an important question! There are lots of ways to make tea, but at Whittard, we recommend brewing your tea in water and adding milk afterwards to your desired taste.”

A subject most people differ on, depending on how you like your tea, is how often you should leave the bag in for.

While a lot of this is down to personal preference, Angela says that the optimum time is around 3 to 5 minutes – no less and no longer.

She added: “Different types of tea mean different times for brewing. When it comes to brewing a teabag, black teas are normally brewed while Matcha Green Tea should be made at a cooler 70°C.  

“Most tea bags reach their best strength between 3-5 minutes, but delicate teas like Darjeeling, white and green teas should only be infused for between 2-3 minutes.”

Other common mistakes that people seem to make when fixing up a brew are as follows, according to Angela.

First up is not letting the tea brew for long enough. This can have a huge impact on the tea itself and the desired flavour.

Secondly is the lesson we’ve already learned surrounding the squeezing of the bag.

If you’re a green tea drinker, watch the temperature. Angela explains: “Using the wrong temperature water for sensitive teas, such as green tea. Hot water (above 100 degrees) makes the tea taste bitter.”

Angela also suggests investing in loose tea over the common tea bags. Apparently “loose gives you a more flavoursome cup.”

In what has to be the most comprehensive tea-making breakdown ever, Angela finishes by outlining five steps that lead to the best cup of tea you’ll ever make.

Step 1 – Get your tap running – you don’t want to use the water that’s been sitting in the tap, so letting the tap run for a second or two helps get the water aerated. It’s also best to always use fresh water, rather than re-boiling water multiple times.

To keep things environmentally friendly, try to only boil as much water as you’ll need.

Step 2 – Use some of that boiling water to heat up your mug or teapot by swilling it around and pouring it out, so that when your tea is ready, your cup will stay hotter for longer. This is because tea tastes best when it’s hot, and having a cold mug makes it cool down quicker.

Step 3 – Put two tea bags into a big teapot if you’re serving a group or one in a small teapot for just yourself. If you’re using loose tea, add one teaspoon per person and an extra one for the pot.

Step 4 – Let your tea steep for 4-5 minutes to really bring out its flavours. Angela also suggests finding the perfect biscuit to accompany your cuppa, but that went without saying as far as we were concerned.

Step 5 – It’s freestyle time. Indulge in some customisation – whether you prefer milk, milk and sugar, a dollop of honey, a squeeze of lemon, or just plain tea in all its glory, the choice is yours.

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