- Caffeine, to keep you awake for your responsibilities of the day.
- Warm milk, to calm your nerves and prepare you for your day.
- Sugar, to provide a bit of instant energy, a "spark" as you go in to work or as you begin your daily responsibilities.
- Tea, to hydrate and refresh you, to give you that five minutes of breathing time before you rush off to work (or to clean the house, or make breakfast for the kids)
I think you'll agree that this is a pretty amazing combination to have in one cup. This is really what you need to start your day, every day! Here are some very basic instructions for the new English Breakfast tea-drinker.
- Water temperature: Boiling! Not boiled, not almost-boiling. Really, really hot.
- Use a regular size mug or tea cup - nothing too big for this first cup, so the proportions of milk and sugar won't be off.
- Put an English Breakfast tea bag into the mug and pour the boiling water over it, leaving about an inch of space at the top of the mug.
- Let it steep at least 4 minutes. It shouldn't get too bitter, and the sugar and milk will help any over-steeping that happens, so don't be afraid to make it dark!
- Remove the tea bag. Stir in 1-2 teaspoons of sugar. I like less sugar; others like more. If you are using a smaller tea cup, I would definitely go with less sugar. You can always add more later if you think it needs it!
- Milk: This is a toughie for me. I don't actually know how much milk I pour in! Generally I pour in milk until the tea is the "right" color, but that is subjective. I did about two minutes of internet research and couldn't find a lot of opinions. So experiment. Pour in enough milk for the level of liquid to rise about 1 centimeter. Swirl it with a spoon and take a sip.
At this point, consider the strength of the tea, the sweetness, and the taste of the milk. If you aren't enjoying the taste, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- I prefer some brands of English Breakfast tea over others. Stash is the kind I drink most often. It might be worth it to experiment with different brands, though I haven't done a lot of experimenting myself. I found one I liked and stuck with it!
- If you are new to tea, feel free to overdo the sugar and the milk. In fact, English Breakfast might be one of the most friendly teas for new drinkers.
- I use real sugar. Here I'm going to be a snob and say you should too! If you are diabetic or cannot consume sugar for health reasons, I have no recommendations for you - would you experiment and let me know if there is still a way to enjoy this tea? Of course, some people forego the sweetner altogether, and I think if the milk were done right it would still be a satisfying cup.
- I use whole milk. Not cream. Not skim. 2% I have used before with only mildly disappointing results. Here my snobbishness comes through again - please, please use whole milk! You have to be able to taste it in the tea!
Please tell me about your experience with English Breakfast tea, and if you have any additional comments (especially if you are a bigger snob than me!) - theteasnob at comcast.net.