After trying a fair few cups of tea at Tea HQ, we’re here to help you with the basics and the step-by-steps and point you in the right direction. Then you can take it from there. Make it your own. And look forward to your favourite cup of tea every time.
We’ve even added in pictures so you can’t go wrong.
Step 1. Rolled, Whole Leaves.
Start with the most important part. Tea that looks like tea. Look for rolled, whole leaves. The bigger the better. They’re tastier, richer and smoother, and don’t lose their natural oils, unlike the chopped-up dust in supermarket tea bags.
The final taste of the tea in your cup comes down to a few things. Growing conditions, manufacture and brewing. It all counts. Rolled whole leaves (or ‘Orthodox’) are always the best place to start. They give you so much taste to play with. Our leaves are hand-plucked too, so you don’t end up with tasteless leaves, stems and in-between bits.
Step 2. Get the ratio right.
For the perfect cup of tea, find your golden ratio of leaf to water. A good rule of thumb is 5g tea to 400ml water. To save you measuring out miniscule amounts of tea, we’ve designed our kit to do it for you. Try our 400ml teapot and scoop for a consistent cup of tea each time.
But hey, it’s all about preference. To give your cup a stronger taste, put a few more leaves in with the same volume of water. If you prefer it a little lighter, reduce the leaves instead. Play around with it. Your perfect cup of tea is all in this ratio.
If you prefer tea bags, 300ml water is perfect straight into most standard mugs. We’ve varied the amount of tea in our bags for each blend so that the taste is as consistent as possible with the loose leaf. Since your tea is fixed, your water should be too. Remember that ratio.
Step 3. Temperature matters.
For black teas like English Breakfast or Earl Grey, use 100° boiling water from the kettle into the pot to bring out the flavour. Using water that’s too cool will leave your tea flat and tasteless.
But it can also work the other way. Ever tried a green tea and thought it’s too bitter? Here’s why - the water’s too hot. Green tea leaves are more delicate so boiling water is too much for them. Brew at 85° to bring out those subtle, grassy notes and avoid bitterness.
For an easy method, put a splash of cold water (about ¼) into the teapot first. Pour in the boiling water second. It makes all the difference.
Step 4. Brew for 3-5 minutes.
Brewing. It’s a word that’s thrown around a lot. Especially considering the average brewing time in the UK is 20 seconds. A travesty for proper tea.
Brewing is the process of leaves absorbing water which is what releases their flavour. It needs time to properly draw out all that great taste. Which is why dusty bag companies rely on bitter ‘tannins’ in their tea to bring some punch, as a (poor) substitute for taste. Let’s change that. Leave your rolled, whole leaves at least 3 minutes, and 5 if you like it a little stronger. Trust us, it’s worth the wait.
For the tastiest cup, use a teapot with a built-in strainer. Not a basket in sight. No restrictions, just plenty of room for the leaves to absorb water and expand. The result - a much tastier cup of tea.
If you’re using a Proper Tea Bag, pour the water straight into a mug with the tea, and let it brew for 3-5 minutes. Remove the bag and add milk if it’s your thing. Milk is always last when using tea bags so it doesn’t cool the water too much as it brews.
Step 5. Add milk and sugar if that’s your thing.
Pour out into your mug and add any extras. This bit is down to you.
We always recommend trying it black first to really enjoy all the individual notes in the tea. Once you know what you like, feel free to add your extras. Whatever you fancy to make it your perfect cup. Milk? Sugar? Lemon? Have fun with it.
Tell us how you drink your tea over at firstname.lastname@example.org
What colour should tea be?
This depends on the blend. For English Breakfast look for a ruby red. For Darjeeling you’ll want a paler, straw like colour and Green is in the name. Look out for the whole leaves & proper ingredients, make sure you brew it for at least 3 minutes, and it’ll be bang on. A great clue is the clarity - dusty bags make for a murky cup. Really good tea from rolled, whole leaves looks a lot lighter and clearer. Don’t be fooled into thinking this means it’s weaker. It’s got all the taste.
Should you put milk in tea?
Your call. Dusty bags are often full of tannin and so they’re far too bitter on their own. Milk’s been doing a stellar cover-up job for years. If you’re using rolled, whole leaves then they’ll have enough taste to hold their own without needing any milk. But it’s all about finding the perfect balance, so if you like it, throw it in.
How to make a cup of tea. It’s a question that’s been discussed for millennia. Even Orwell cited it as a ‘subject of violent disputes’. Great to see we’re still at it. Despite that, his principles (generally) stand firm. It’s all about quality, whole leaves, brewing temperature and the ratio. Better leaves hold more taste with no bitterness.
We’re flying the flag for a better standard for tea drinkers. For us, making the perfect cup of tea is making the tea you love to drink.
Want more? Head to our other posts to find out Everything you need to know about English Breakfast and How to Brew Loose Leaf Tea.