British Tea Pot
Although called the British tea pot style, similar methods for preparing tea were common across parts of Europe, especially those whose teas were supplied by the Dutch. Preparing tea as ever varies from place to place and person to person but what has been outlined here is a preferred way to ensure a constant brew and that avoids the tea liquor becoming bitter. It varies slightly from the traditional method as we will highlight.
Hot (boiled) water
Tea cosy (optional)
The teapot should be pre-warmed either by washing it out with hot water or merely adding the boiling water* to be used for the tea infusion. Water as with all tea preparation is fundamental to a good brew. Traditionally the pot would always be washed for hygiene sake, however in this day and age it is now one of those personal choices that allows you find what is best for you and the tea you are making. A common ratio of tea and water is about 5g of leaf to 250ml water. Once in the pot make sure that the leaf and water are stirred well, a long spoon is often preferable for convenience. If you are a stickler for preparation now is the time to start your timer. 5 minutes is the most standard period, however it is recommended to experiment with times between 3-6 minutes, again dependent on the tea and your person preferences.
Brewing your tea
When carrying out experiments using a glass teapot can be very advantageous and also add something to process as you observe the teas colour infusing. This is especially true with many Indian teas which have a beautiful deep and rich colour. If you are not certain if the liquor has reached your desired flavour, try it. Placing the tea strainer on your cup add a small amount of liquor. Test. If to your liking, move the strainer to the second pot, pre-warmed, and pour of ALL the liquor. This is very important if you like to experiment with a second infusion, though sometimes this not the done thing in homes, but this arises from making the correct impression, rather than appreciation of tea! Utilising the second pot is very important to prevent stewing, or bitterness forming later on. It also avoids the strange film that can form on top of over brewed tea as well as excessive staining of the tea pot. This way the tea can be kept for much longer in a good drinking condition, if you plan to let stand for sometime or live in cooler climes then a tea cosy could be a good investment.
We assumed here that you are preparing a quality Indian leaf tea so no mention of milk, sugar, lemon, honey, mint or any other addition has been mentioned. However this is not to say that they should not be tried. The wonder of tea is in the variety. One day you may have a sweet tooth, so go on give it a try! Adding, especially sweetening, brings out many different nuances in the tea, so is worth experimenting with. Check out our Masala Chai page too for additional flavouring ideas.
Traditional 'English' style teapots
Traditional 'English' style teapots come in a huge number and style, from simple brown ceramic pots which were standard issue with my grandparents and their friends on a day to day basis through to the delicate, fine China ware of Wedgwood, Poole pottery, Royal Doulton et al that were the reserve of special events & guests.
*BOILING WATER should not be used in very fine bone china as it can cause cracks. Always allow the water to cool slightly.