Hello, Is It Tea You’re Looking For?

Scientists in England have discovered the key to making the perfect cup of tea.

An issue of great national concern has been resolved thanks to the University of Northumbria’s School of Life Sciences. Here’s a hint: Lionel Richie has everything to do with it.

Per The Telegraph, scientists clocked in more than 180 hours of testing and made more than 285 cups, thus determining that the optimum cup of tea should be brewed for exactly six minutes before drinking, a little more than the length of this stimulating video.

Moreover, it must be served at a temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 degrees C) to allow the flavors to flood out without scalding the tongue.

Tea left beyond 17 minutes and 30 seconds is absolute rubbish and should, therefore, be defenestrated or otherwise. I pity the fool who drinks his tea lukewarm.

This and the Lionel Richie mug above are handcrafted by LennyMud.

To make the perfect cup, add boiling water to a mug (with tea bag) and leave it for exactly two minutes. Then remove the bag, add the milk and leave for six minutes until it reaches the ideal temperature of 60C.

Should the temperature drop below 45C, all is lost, thus destroying the “all round sensory experience.”

The research, commissioned by British milk company Cravendale, flies in the face of earlier findings by Loughborough University’s Dr. Andrew Stapley, who has lectured on the topic of tea for the better part of a decade. He surmises that pouring milk into a cup after the boiling hot water has been added “denatures” the milk proteins, producing a most unpleasant stale taste.

Being American, I have no clue which scientist is in his or her right mind. Luckily, I have the good fortune of being married to an Englishman who makes me copious amounts of tea. Coming from a formidable tea drinking culture wherein 165 million cups of tea per day are consumed (my theory is that the English use tea to fill in awkward conversation gaps and mark time before a guest leaves), he is my resident expert.

“Let me ask you a question,” he said. “What makes the tea brew?”

Um, the hot water? I guess.

“That’s right. If you put the milk in first and then add the hot water, are you not lowering the temperature of the water? The fallacy that you should add milk first is preposterous! The science doesn’t add up.”

His words to a (cough) “t.”

He also informed me that we employ the method of halving our brew time by doubling the bags. Another consideration in our household is the width of the mug. If it’s a fat mug you have to preheat the cup as a wide mug runs the risk of producing an inferior tea if left at room temperature.

An innovative way to double, even triple, bag. By Monica Tsang via designboom.


Ian Brown, senior lecturer at the University of Northumbria, relayed to The Telegraph that the complex taste of tea is what makes it so delectable. “When enjoying a cup of tea, our palette requires a balance between bitterness and sweetness. You might not expect to find toffee flavour in black tea, but by adding milk, toffee and vanilla flavours are intensified while the wood and grassy notes are reduced.”

That is why 98 per cent of Brits prefer milk with their tea, exactly 10 ml for every 200ml of water.

Proper dunking of biscuits, meanwhile, is still up for debate.

The FaceMug, available for purchase at Uncommon Goods.


K. Emily Bond

K. Emily Bond is the Shelter Editor at EcoSalon and currently resides in southern Spain, reporting on trends in art, design, sustainable living and lifestyle.