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What is the perfect cup of tea?
Organizations including the British Tea Producers’ Association, the Tea Trade Committee and the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in the UK developed a very specific formula for preparing tea for tasting, called BS6008 in 1980. The guidelines come under periodic review, but have remained largely unchanged since their initial release.
The guidelines came under review last year and were recently reissued in a six page document entitled “Method for preparation of a liquor of tea for use in sensory tests.”
The guidelines specify ideal dimensions for teapots, which must be porcelain. For every 100 ml of water, the formula requires two grams of tea and a temperature range of 140 -185 degrees F for six minutes. A small teapot calls for two teabags while a large requires four.
The standards have received their share of ribbing in the past. In 1999 they received the Ig Nobel award, an award that honors science that makes “people laugh, then think,” with recognition for their wordiness for preparing a “simple cup.” In reality, however, these standards are valuable tools for those who are conducting technical tastings and sensory comparisons of tea.
The standards did address a hot topic in many tea circles — the milk. The standards recommend that milk should go first to avoid scalding.