The Perfect Brew

A brief history of tea

by Chloe Gorman

Tea is one of the most popular beverages in the world. From India’s rich black tea, to China’s fresh, grassy green to South Africa’s sweet, caffeine free red, tea speaks a universal language and us Brits can’t get enough of it. 

So much so that step into any coffee shop on the high street and you may be surprised to find that the tea selection has grown even larger than the coffee menu. Monthly tea subscription services now exist to deliver best quality teas right to your door and even big supermarket brands are expanding their range, adding new infusions like Caramel Chai and Matcha.

But other than dropping a teabag into a favourite mug and flicking on the kettle, who really knows how to brew their tea for the perfect cuppa? Despite our universal love of the stuff, not all teas were born equal.




Black tea

Black teas like English breakfast, Assam, Darjeeling and Earl Grey are best brewed with boiling water for 3 – 5 minutes. Top tip – if you like your tea strong, add more tea leaves rather than steeping for longer to ensure you get the best flavour.

3 – 5


Herbal & Fruit Tisanes

Some herbal and fruit teas have medicinal benefits which are best steeped for 15 – 20 minutes to unleash all of those beneficial properties. Plus the longer they brew the stronger the flavour.

15 – 20


Green Tea

If you’re a green tea drinker, you’re best using water that’s slightly off the boil but still steaming. Steep for no longer than 3 minutes otherwise the leaves start to get bitter. Top tip – loose leaf green tea can be re-infused up to 3 times.

2 – 3


White Tea

Similarly to green tea, white tea needs water just off the boil for the best flavour, but white tea can be brewed for up to 5 minutes.

3 – 5


Red Tea

Red tea, also known as Rooibos or Redbush, technically isn’t a tea leaf at all, it’s actually from the legume family, but the leaves are steeped to make a naturally caffeine free infusion. Like black tea, you can drink red tea with milk and sugar, on its own, or sweetened with lemon and honey. Red tea is best after around 10-15 minutes brewing.

10 – 15


Light boil - 70°

Small bubbles float the surface

Medium boil - 80°

Strings of Bubbles rise to the surface

Rolling Boil - 90°

Bubbles rapidly rise to the surface

Despite the ever growing popularity of tea, other than a trusty teapot, there aren’t many trendy gadgets out there to get the best from your brew. While coffee lovers have enjoyed an array of attractive appliances from Italian style barista machines to trendy pod coffee makers to get their home coffees spot on, the humble teasmade has had a somewhat less fashionable reputation until now.

The first known Teasmade dates as far back as 1891, with it really taking off in the 1930’s when an electric version was made, but the device was at its most popular in the 1960’s and 70’s, where up to 2 million households had one at their bedside. From the 90’s onwards the teasmade fell out of fashion with Norma Major famously remarking that she had one at 10 Downing Street, unfortunately adding to its dubious reputation.

However, the new generation of teasmade is designed not only to make sure your cuppa is ready for you when you wake up, they can also be programmed to work at different temperatures and times to make sure you get the best from your brew, no matter whether you’re drinking builders black tea, delicate jasmine green or even coffee. Some can even be connected to wifi for remote operation right from your bed. Perfect for even the worst morning people!

Drinking tea has been one of our favourite things to do for thousands of years,
and there’s no sign of that changing any time soon!

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