In the aftermath of a severe storm last night, I sit here in the comfort of my own home about to enjoy a wonderful cup of Yorkshire Tea (FOR HARD WATER). I have tried and loved several types of tea, but I definitely find myself coming back to the full-bodied taste of the British black with its wonderful ACK (Assam, Ceylon, Kenya) hybrid.
Anyway, let’s get straight down to it. Here are five tips for enjoying tea like a proper Brit today…
1. BUY GOOD TEA
Loose-leaf tea in a great teapot and strainer will no doubt get the most out of your tea. If you don’t have access to that, there are plenty of great, bagged brands out there including Yorkshire Tea, PG Tips, Typhoo, Tetley’s, Cafédirect, Teapigs and Clipper.
2. COLD & 3. FRESHLY ALMOST-BOILED WATER
If there is any old water in your kettle, pour that out, give the kettle a rinse and put in some new water. Make sure the water is COLD, straight from the tap or whatever cold water dispenser you have. The primary reason for this isn’t so much to do with the oxygen content; it’s more because hot taps tend to contain more free-flowing sediment and you don’t want any of that in your tea. It would disrupt the flavors.
Also, it goes without saying, keep the amount you boil to a minimum to save electricity. The more people you’re making tea for, the more water you boil. Make sure you boil JUST enough water. Make sure you turn the kettle off just before the kettle actually reaches boiling point, that’s the best temperature for this kind of tea if you want to retain as much of the flavor as possible.
4. TIME & 5. PATIENCE
In my experience, I’ve found 2 to 2:30 minutes to be the optimal amount of time for a tea bag to brew. After that, throw it away, or if you have a compost bin, chuck it in there. After doing this, add cow’s milk, preferably whole or semi-skimmed. This could be any kind of cow’s milk really; as long as it’s not any of that powder creamer or UHT stuff, it is all good. If you’re lactose intolerant, vegan or just not a fan of cow’s milk, rice or almond milk are good alternatives, and complement the toffee/vanilla tones you get from the tea itself. Or you could just enjoy it black. I also find that 10-15mls of milk into the tea, and then leaving it for about 3 to 4 minutes with a little bit of stirring works really well. In that time you can stare lovingly into the tea, like a Klee or Rothko painting, as it becomes ready for consumption. After that time has passed, if you have access to some biscuits, grab a few of those, assume a comfortable position, and enjoy. —Kwes.
‘ilp.’, Kwes’ long-awaited debut album, is available now through Warp.