Stop the presses – our mission is complete before its even really begun. Scientists have unveiled the formula for the perfect cup of tea. Here it is:
[TB + (H20 @ 100degrees Celsius)] 2mins BT
+ C (10ml) 6mins BT
= PC (@ OT 60 degrees Celsius)
TB = TeaBag
BT = BrewTime
C = Milk (obvious isn't it?)
PC = Perfect Cuppa
OT = Optimum Time
So does the above formula actually give you the perfect cup of tea? While it's kinda cute to think there's one formula to rule them all, I'd say this one isn't even close.
Teabags and Milk
In devising this formula, the scientists have made a few assumptions – namely, that teabags and milk be used. That there is already two fails within this formula as any discussion of tea and perfection means: a) Loose leaf tea only and b) no milk.
Tea + Milk ≠ perfection
That's right, no milk. When you add milk to quality loose leaf tea, you mask the subtle complexities of the tea and diminish its inherent flavour. Don't get me wrong – I do drink milk tea at times and there's nothing wrong with adding milk to your tea. It's just that when you do, it ceases to be about the inherent properties of the tea and becomes more about how the milk and tea works together. Sort of like when talking about the perfect cup of coffee, you'd be talking about black coffee and not a latte or cappuccino.
Green, Black, White, Yellow, Oolong or Fermented/Dark teas? Even if we leave out tisanes and herbal infusions, there are still six different types of teas, each with a countless number of varieties and each requiring different water temperatures and steep times in order to get the most out of the leaves. Adding boiling water to most green teas and steeping it for 2mins would make it unpleasantly bitter and astringent. And why would you add milk to a subtle white tea such as Silver Needle? Might as well just drink hot milk because that's all you're really going to taste.
The Perfect Cuppa
Everybody's tastes are different and everyone has a different definition of perfect. This is no where more evident than in the subject of tea. What's the criteria for perfection? Is it simply taste or does the whole "tea experience" come into play as well? Is it something that you make for yourself or is perfection something that you find out on some off the beaten track location?
The question of the perfect cuppa is a loaded concept for sure – one far more complex than a single mathematical formula. And it's a concept that we're more than happy to tackle head on :)