Storm brewing over tea cup tips
A new guide to making the perfect cup of tea may finally settle the question of when to add the milk in a breakthrough that will be a blow to many purists.
The British Standards Institution (BSI) has released a guide called Preparation Of A Liquor Of Tea For Use In Sensory Tests that sets out what it deems to be the essentials for a perfect brew.
According to the BSI, the milk must be poured into the cup before the tea, which should be brewed for six minutes.
The standard could finally end the debate around whether milk should be added to the cup before or after the tea.
But the BSI has gone further still, determining that a pot made of porcelain is an essential, and there must be at least two grams of tea to every 100ml of water.
The temperature cannot go beyond 85C (185F) when served but should be above 60C (140F) for "optimum flavour and sensation".
The perfect pot size is apparently between 74mm and 78mm wide, and 83mm and 87mm tall.
And as the average tea bag contains 1.5g of tea leaves, at least two tea bags should be used for a small pot, and four for a large one.
The BSI said the perfect brewing time was six minutes to extract the flavours from the tea leaves.
The BSI is the business standards company best known for its Kitemark, recognised as a mark of excellence that is seen on everything from manholes to aircraft.
Edward Eisler, the founder of speciality tea importer Jing, said: " There are over 10,000 teas in China alone, and most of these principles would not apply.
"They work for a strong builders' brew or breakfast tea, but six minutes is a long time, especially in the case of a Darjeeling blend which will go pretty astringent after about three minutes.
"Pouring the milk in first is certainly right in my experience, though, to avoid a separation of the flavour between the tea and the milk. How much milk to put in is a question of personal taste."