Making the perfect cup of tea

People are always asking us, “What’s the best way to make tea?” so we asked Nerada’s Tony Poyner to share his expert advice. As Plantation Director of Australia’s largest tea estate, based in the Atherton Tableland, Far North Queensland, his job is to maintain the high quality and consistency of all our teas.

Over the course of any working day, Tony tastes more than 30 cups of tea, so he definitely knows what he’s talking about. Here, he reveals step by step how to achieve the perfect brew, from what kind of water to use, to the best time to add the milk.

Six steps to the ultimate brew

1. Fresh is best

Just like the produce you cook with, the fresher the tea, the fuller and better the flavour will be.

When it comes to Nerada, Australians can’t get their tea any fresher. Our homegrown crops can be delivered from the plantation to their cups in just four weeks. From picking to packing, Nerada Black Tea is definitely Australia’s freshest brew.

2. Water quality

A good cup of tea requires good-quality cold water. If you can, use filtered water or, at the very least, ensure the water in your kettle is fresh and hasn’t been stagnating for too long.

Remember to run the tap briefly before filling your kettle. This aerates the water and the oxygen will bring out the best flavour in your tea. Don’t re-boil the water, as this will destroy the oxygen.

3. Water temperature

Depending on the style of tea you choose, the temperature will vary. For instance, Nerada black tea and herbal infusions require water to be added at boiling point (100°C), whereas our white and green teas are generally best when brewed at 70°C.

It’s a good idea to leave the boiled water in the kettle to stand for a few minutes before you pour it into your teapot or cup.

4. Making a pot of tea

The general rule when you’re making loose-leaf tea in a teapot is: ‘one for me and one for the pot’. So, if you’re making tea for two, you’ll be adding three (heaped) teaspoons of tea leaves.

Before adding your tea leaves, warm the pot by adding a little boiled water to your teapot and leaving it for a minute or two before pouring it out. That way, the boiling water you add afterwards won’t lose its heat so quickly.

5. Brewing time

All tea needs time to infuse properly, which is why tea made in a teapot often tastes better, because it has sat for a while, meaning the flavours are enhanced.

When using a teabag, make sure you leave it to steep in the cup for up to four minutes to maximise the taste.

6. Adding milk to tea

There are a few schools of thought about when to add milk, or even whether you should add it at all. Some prefer to add a little milk to the cup before pouring the tea over, saying it heats the milk, so the overall temperature isn’t lowered so much. Others, like Tom, prefer adding the milk after the tea is brewed and poured, so they can get a more accurate milk-to-tea ratio.

Something everyone seems to agree on is that adding a teabag to the cup after the milk will prevent the tea from steeping properly. So: teabag first, then water, then milk.

So now you have Nerada’s foolproof guide to making tea, it’s worth noting that everyone will have their individual preference. So, don’t worry if the way you make it isn’t someone else’s, um… cup of tea.

What matters is that tea is something you can enjoy any time and any way you like it – alone or with friends – whether it’s a steaming mug of strong black tea with milk and sugar, or a dainty porcelain cup of soothing herbal infusion.