To steep or not to steep?
That’s the hot topic du jour for tea lovers across the Twittersphere right now.
This latest food debate has seen thousands across social media sharing strong opinions on the best way to prepare a simple cup of tea — and the main Twitter thread is pretty comedic.
It all started over the weekend when London-based writer Joel Golby shared the following musing on Twitter: “simply [sic] can’t trust people who don’t leave the tea bag to steep in the cup for a bit. you think you can get enough depth of flavour just by squashing it a lot with the back of a teaspoon? the arrogance. the ego. leave the room and walk away from it.”
For those who aren’t familiar with the art of tea assembly, “steeping” basically means soaking your tea bag or tea leaves in hot water before removing them and drinking the infused liquid. The idea is to let your plain, boring water soak in the aromatic flavor of the tea leaves and spices.
After Golby shared his post, fired up tea lovers in the U.K. (and eventually worldwide) took to Twitter to weigh in. As it turns out, many people agreed with him and were equally as loyal to a thorough steeping process.
Many tweeters even shared their own personal recipe for a perfectly steeped cup of tea.
Lots of people couldn’t believe that others actually try to crush their tea bags to speed things up.
But some, however, bravely admitted they might squish a bag to get more flavor out faster.
Others offered up clever solutions for those who are too impatient to let their tea fully seep.
The debate really came to a boil when people started asking whether one should leave the tea bag in while you drink your tea.
Many pointed out that leaving the tea bag in is a typically American habit. How naughty.
Yet some insisted it adds great flavor.
Many users did note that if you like tea served a certain way, it’s OK to prepare it to your own unique specifications … in the privacy of your own home.
For a lesson in proper tea etiquette, TODAY Food turned to one British brand and one American tea brand to see what they recommend.
First up? Yorkshire Tea, a popular brand found in most U.K. grocery stores. The folks at Yorkshire recommend popping a tea bag into an empty mug first, then pouring hot water over it and briefly stirring. “Tea needs time to unlock all its flavour [sic], so give it 4-5 minutes to do its thing. This is a perfect time to munch a sneaky biscuit or daydream about holidays,” reads Yorkshire’s website.
Before taking your tea bag out, the brand does recommend gently squishing it “against the side of the mug. Just the once, mind — if you really mash it, it’ll taste bitter.” Carry on, old chap.
But things might be a little different across the pond, where people tend to drink a wider variety of teas.
Harney & Sons, an American tea brand, acknowledges that a one-size-fits-all method does not work when it comes to tea. White and green teas may become bitter if oversteeped, so three minutes will usually suffice. Most herbal teas and black teas, however, can be steeped for up to five minutes, or even longer depending on the type.
So, what’s the best way to steep a tea bag? It depends on the type but no tea maker we found suggested the smashing and dashing method all by itself. Another no-no? Resist the urge to dunk, just let the tea bag rest to properly rest, then give the hot liquid a stir.
To make the most out of one’s tea, it’s advisable to steep it for at least a minute or two — just don’t forget about it altogether.
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