Yesterday, on Twitter, a devoted Yorkshire Tea drinker asked us to provide an expert's step by step guide to making the perfect cup of tea. So today we went to see Kate, one of the experts in our tea buying department.
As per our usual advice, Kate really does always use freshly drawn water, emptying her kettle of any old water first. This avoids reboiling the water, which basically bashes the oxygen out of the water and concentrates the levels of impurities.
"If it's the first cup of the morning I let the tap run a bit too," says Kate. This ensures the water's nicely aerated - which helps achieve a better brew.
Kate uses a teapot, warming it first with some boiled water swilled round inside. She also leaves this in while fetching the mugs - porcelain mind, no chunky builder type mugs for her. (Actually she mostly chooses a cup and saucer, but she didn't want us to tell you that in case it sounded like she was posing.) Then she empties that water into the mugs to warm them up a bit too.
For a pot like the one in the pic, Kate says 2 bags will do for most people, though our tea buyers like theirs strong so they tend to add 3 or even 4. Bags must go in flat on the bottom so they get properly soaked when the water goes in. Then it's just a couple of clockwise turns with a spoon and leave to brew for 4-5 minutes.
Finally, she adds milk before the tea. Semi or whole is fine and deciding which is more a matter of taste, but she's not so forgiving of skimmed - "you might as well drink it black". When tasting professionally, by the way, whole milk is traditional.
Pot-devotee that she is, Kate doesn't dismiss the brewed-in-mug option if it's what you prefer. "But don't add milk first - it lowers the temperature of the water and you can't judge the strength."