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Professional Tea Taster Explains How He Makes His Perfect Brew

Tom Wood

| Last updated 

Professional Tea Taster Explains How He Makes His Perfect Brew

Ah, the humble cup of tea. Is there anything in the world that so unites, and yet divides, everyone?

Everyone has their own way of doing things - and some don't drink any at all - but the thing that most of us agree on is that there's nothing better than a nice hot brew to soothe the soul.

There are few people in the world more qualified to spill the tea about the nation's favourite drink than Kevin Gascoyne.

First of all, he grew up in Yorkshire, but he's also since travelled the world seeking out the perfect cuppa, he works as a taster for a specialist tea shop - Camellia Sinensis - in Canada, and has co-hosted the World Tea Awards on several occasions.

Oh, and he drinks about four or five litres of the stuff each day.

Credit: Kevin Gascoyne
Credit: Kevin Gascoyne

So, with that level of expertise, LADbible spoke to Kevin to see if he could give us some insight in how to get the most out of your cup of tea.

The first thing to remember is - however you like it is the best way. That should settle a few arguments about whether milk should go in first, second, or not at all.

Secondly, there's a science to it.

Kevin explained: "Priority number one is getting pleasure from your brew.

"We are each the expert on what tastes good to us so if you have a preferred method, be it milk first or last, stick to your guns.

However, he continued: "I would say it depend on the infusion technique we are using.

"Scalding water messes with the milk, it curdles into curds and whey getting lumpy. It only takes your water a short time to cool a few degrees for this to be avoided.

"So, with this in mind, in an ideal world my tea would always be brewed loose leaf in a teapot [because] as the leaves infuse for three minutes or so the temperature has come off the boil a few degrees so in this scenario I'd say milk first."

Credit: Kevin Gascoyne
Credit: Kevin Gascoyne

However, this isn't a catch-all solution - what about the office brew round? We don't all have teapots at home, let alone in a working scenario.

Kevin added: "The teapot method is not always the most practical for a quickie or a large group.

"For such times we revert to the combat conditions of the line-up of mugs and bags.

"With this set-up, putting the milk first and pouring water straight from the kettle risks splitting the milk, plus the milky water reduces the efficiency of the tea-water reaction, it just won't brew as efficiently.

"So, for the 'bag in mug' set-up - water first-brew then add milk once the tea is brewed and cooled a few degrees."

There you have it - the conclusive answer from a leading authority in the field of tea-brewing.

However, as explained earlier, the way you like to do it is the best way.

Credit: Kevin Gascoyne
Credit: Kevin Gascoyne

There's yet more science involved, too.

Kevin said: "You need a water that has a certain amount of mineral content, because you need the mineral content to react with the flavour chemistry of the tea.

"If you use distilled water, it doesn't work. Over-filtered water is not going to work. So, you have to have a certain amount of mineral content."

Obviously, Kevin's work has taken him around the globe supping down leaves from every different culture.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

However, the experience that stick with him the most is his experience in the Himalayas. He explained: "The history of tea is 5,000 years old, and China is the mothership of tea. It's very much a Chinese thing, but anything outside of China has only happened in the last few hundred years.

"But, for me as a black tea drinker [the leaf, not that he doesn't take milk] the tea of the Indian Himalayas really got me into tea as a youngster.

"When I was 19 I went to India backpacking and discovered it, and it's often known as the champagne of black teas."

There you have it, tea fans, if you're looking for the perfect cuppa, head up to the mountains of India.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: Interesting, Food And Drink

Tom Wood
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