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How to make the perfect brew
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To get the very best from your high-quality Fortnum & Mason tea, it is well worth following a few well-tested rules on brewing, as recommended by the experts.

First warm the teapot by rinsing it out with hot water. If you regularly drink a number of different teas it is worth investing in a number of different teapots as a patina will build up on the inside of the pot and will flavour the tea. It is generally considered that silver or terracotta deliver the best results for strong teas and bone China and porcelain work best of lighter teas. You should never wash your teapot in soapy water or through a dishwasher. After use the pot should be emptied, rinsed in detergent-free water and turned upside down to drain.

How to make the perfect brew

Tea Commentary, 5th issue: Tea and cakes, 1924

When it comes to how much tea to use, follow the rule of “one teaspoon for each person and one for the pot” for loose leaves and experiment to find the ideal brew for you. If you are using tea bags, use the same guide: one bag per person and one for the pot. If you are brewing in a cup, use just one bag and leave it in for 4-5 minutes. Fruit infusions and green teas are normally drunk without milk, so 1-2 minutes is sufficient.

Use freshly drawn water when filling the kettle; if you live in an area with very hard water, filtering it first is advisable. The water should be boiling for black tea and off the boil (at 70-88°C) for green and white teas. If you’re not going to enjoy all the tea in one pour, decant it into a second warmed pot, straining it as you do so. By separating the loose leaves from the liquor, this prevents the tea oversteeping and becoming bitter.

Traditionalists believe that putting the milk into the cup before the tea is best; this is because historically it protected the fine porcelain tea bowls when the hot tea was poured in and it also allows the two liquids to mix better. The scientific reason behind adding the milk first, though, is that it cools the tea and prevents the fats in the milk scalding and causing an unpleasant taste. If, however, you add the milk after pouring your tea, you can have better control over how much to add to achieve your preferred taste. All in all, we believe it’s down to personal preference and probably makes very little difference to the actual flavour.

As a general guide, Fortnum & Mason’s stronger teas (those blends made from Assam tea) are best served with milk. The lighter teas and aromatic teas are best served without, as adding milk changes the profile of the tea and will produce a different-flavoured brew. Although, again, it is entirely down to which way you prefer to enjoy your tea.

Rose, chamomile, lemongrass, raspberry, ginger and a range of dried herbs, fruit and flower can also be used to make a refreshing hot or chilled drink – the correct term for these being an infusion or tisane. This is because they infuse the water with their essence, rather than needed to be brewed to release their flavour.

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