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  • Loads of people have talked about the International Standard Cup of Tea.

  • And there are hundreds of clickbait articles describing it, or ranting about how it's the wrong way to make tea, and there are lengthy infographics videos talking about it.

  • But, as far as I can tell, no-one has actually made a Standard Cup of Tea for the internet before.

  • And there are a couple of reasons for that: One, you have to either buy a copy of the standard, or visit a library that subscribes to the Standards online so you can write down the details.

  • And two, it requires specialist equipment.

  • Most people in Britain make their tea by putting a teabag in a mug and then pouring boiling water on it.

  • If you want to be fancy, then you take a pre-warmed teapot, and you put some loose-leaf tea in it, like this stuff, and then you brew the tea in there, and then you pour the results through a strainer into a cup.

  • It's... it's fancy.

  • But the standard, ISO 3103, doesn't ask for any of that.

  • Instead, it uses a bit of equipment that most people won't even have heard of, which is a Professional Tea Tasting Set.

  • Now, the standard describes it in more technical terms, diagrams, and requirements of construction and weight and size and volume, but fortunately, I could just buy a set that matched the standard.

  • And the instructions for it are actually pretty simple: You measure out 2g of tea per 100ml of water, plus or minus 2%.

  • So for this, that means 2.8g, plus or minus .05g, which I worked out in advance because it took it ages to get it that precise.

  • And then you combine that with either local or standardized water depending on what you're testing, by filling this little mug to the bottom of those serrations.

  • Also, you let it steep for six minutes, which seems a bit long, but hey, that's the standard.

  • [Time passes...]

  • Once your six minutes are up, you separate the 'liquor', as it's called, from the tea leaves by pouring it through the little serrations here into this cup.

  • Let's see if I can do it...

  • No, I can't!

  • But close enough.

  • They say that if you're adding milk, you should put it in first.

  • But this is green tea, so I'm not getting involved in that debate.

  • You drain it through there, and most of the leaves stay in the cup, and once it's drained, you can inspect the tea leaves.

  • And then you drink it not from the traditional cup, but from the bowl.

  • There is a separate standard, ISO 1839, on how you actually sample it, and what you report.

  • And it tastes...

  • Tastes okay. It's just... okay.

  • Because the standard isn't meant to make the perfect cup of tea or the most British cup of tea.

  • Every time the fact that there's a Standard for Tea does the rounds of the internet, loads of people misunderstand it as being prescriptive and saying "Everyone should make their tea this way," and they really shouldn't.

  • ISO 3103 is meant to make an okay but reproducible cup of tea.

  • It sets out instructions so that, whoever and wherever you are, you can create the same cup of tea as someone else in another time and place.

  • For regular tea at home? Make it however you want.

  • Stick a teabag in a mug. Put the milk in first or last. Use fancy china if you want.

  • Make your tea days in advance and then warm it up again in the microwave.

  • Don't... don't do that.

  • But it doesn't matter.

  • There is no perfect cup of tea; there's only the right one for you.

  • This here? This isn't perfect. Definitely isn't perfect, but as far as I can tell, this is the first International Standard Cup of Tea on the internet.

  • I don't actually like tea.

Loads of people have talked about the International Standard Cup of Tea.

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A2 UK tea cup standard iso mug fancy

Making an International Standard Cup of Tea

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    Samuel posted on 2021/11/16
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