How to make the perfect cuppa on National Tea Day

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Just as selecting the best tea is important for a great cuppa, so are the minute details of preparation such as the water temperature, the infusion time and the quality of water.

Sebastian Pole, medical herbalist and author of new herbal tea recipe book ‘Cleanse Nurture and Restore with Herbal Tea’, has shared his simple tips to creating the perfect brew.

Filter your water

Water should be fresh, pure, clear, odourless and low in minerals. So it’s best to use a water filter before making your tea.

Don’t overboil your water

Overboiling causes the minerals to escape and collect as a film on the surface. This upsets the balance between the stronger tannins and some of the subtle volatile oils and amino acids in the herbs.

Remember not to overfill your kettle – use only enough for the cups or pot – and use a renewable energy supplier.

Use freshly boiled water

Re-boiling water risks concentrating certain undesirable compounds, including nitrates and salts, that may be in your water.

Not too hot – or too cold

Really hot water extracts more bitter and astringent compounds, making the tea, especially green tea, taste harsh.

Water that is too cool on the other hand lacks the power to entice the flavours out of herbs, making the tea taste weak.

Herbal teas should be made with freshly boiled water at a temperature of around 90–95OC/ 190–205OF.

Delicate teas such as chamomile, mint or green teas infuse in a lower water temperature.

Oolongs (traditional Chinese teas) and fruit teas need a slightly hotter temperature whilst black teas infuse at an even hotter temperature.

As a guide:

- Green tea – 80-85OC / 175-185OF

- Oolongs (around) 85-90OC / 185-195OF

- Black teas (around) 95OC / 205OF

Infuse the tea for the right length of time

Delicate aromatic flowers, leaves and seeds need less infusion time; from five to 10 minutes. Harder fruits, roots and barks need a longer infusion time, from 10 up to 20 minutes.

The right cup or pot

There is no ‘right’ cup or pot to make and drink herbal tea from.

If you’re brewing tea in a pot, then choose a sturdy one so it keeps your tea warm.

The choice of cup is all yours – a good trick is to keep a lid on your cup when drinking aromatic herbs to prevent the valuable volatile oils from evaporating away.

And of course, always drink your tea in good company or in a relaxed environment to full appreciate its taste and benefits.

The Skyrack, left, and The Original Oak public houses at Headingley, Leeds.

Pub review: Original Oak, Headingley