Despite the average Briton having first made a cup of tea at seven and a half years old, according to the University of Northumbria, the jury’s still out on how to make the nation’s favourite hot beverage. Considering that the most difficult cup of tea to make is the one that is offered to someone else, foodservice operators are at the heart of the debate.
It should therefore come as no surprise that some of the greatest minds of the last century have weighed in on the debate. George Orwell wrote a whole essay on the subject, advising, “One should take the teapot to the kettle and not the other way about” and, “Tea – unless one is drinking it in the Russian style – should be drunk without sugar.”
These tips are part of Orwell’s eleven golden rules, the pinnacle of which is “one of the most controversial points of all” – adding milk to the cup before the tea. He appreciated that “The Milk First school can bring forward some fairly strong arguments,” but nonetheless was stated that his, “own argument is unanswerable.”
Another man of words to offer his advice on the subject is Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy author, Douglas Adams. Adams writes:
“There is a very simple principle to the making of tea and it's this - to get the proper flavour of tea, the water has to be boiling (not boiled) when it hits the tea leaves. If it's merely hot then the tea will be insipid.”
Adams allows for some variation and permits the consumer to add a slice of lemon to the drink, “If you think you will prefer it.”
Another author, celebrity and fan of all things British is Alan Titchmarsh. He writes: “For me the simplest way is to boil a kettle of fresh tap water and to tip it into one of those little glass teapots.” Fittingly for a person known in equal parts for their creative and practical skills in the garden, Alan stores his blends in, “nice tins with screw tops.”
Unlike those who have documented their milk preferences before him, however, Alan claims to prefer, “The merest hint of milk – none of your creamy viscous cupfuls for me, thanks very much.”
It just goes to show, despite the prestigious body of thought on the humble cuppa, it seems there’s no right or wrong way to prepare the perfect brew. A poll by WRVS recently found that tea drinkers in the UK take their brews in a variety of ways, from very strong to very milky. To demonstrate, Tetley recently asked its social media fans to send in pictures of their teas, which we’ve brought together in a delicious diagram to show the full range of preferences.
So what should out of home operators do to find a solution?
While every customer will be different, just as each blend is, as a rough guide, the Tea Academy has also put together some advice on brewing times, so operators know how long a strong tea might take in comparison to a weaker one. Tetley Summer Berry for example, can take anywhere between three and five minutes to infuse, while Tetley Green Tea takes just one to two minutes.
Tetley Tea Academy recommends asking each and every customer their preferences on strength, milk and sugar. Not every customer will be as outspoken as the personalities included here, but that doesn’t mean they cannot be treated like one! For more tips on personalising the perfect blend, click here.
Questions on a tea-related topic? Tweet us @TetleyTeaOOH and we’ll share the best of our blenders’ advice!