An American’s Journey: The Perfect Cup of Tea in Ireland

Scot Tanner

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Close Up Stirring Tea Bag / Photo Credit: Scot Tanner
Close Up Stirring Tea Bag / Photo Credit: Scot Tanner

“I leave my tea bag in the whole time.  I don’t take it out…5 minutes tops and I take the tea bag out.  If you leave it in the tea tastes bitter…I just smash the tea bag and after 2 minutes, I take it out…I take it [the tea bag] out after a good stir.  I like a strong cup of tea…You just want to leave the tea bag in for a minute or two, then take it out.”

For this American, all the different responses on how to make the perfect cup of tea has me confused.  I have been making tea for years, and I enjoy shopping at the upscale shop Teavanna for new and exciting teas.  I had made tea before, however, now I was questioning my approach.  Have I been doing it wrong?  Am I committing a faux pas when I make tea?  To find out how to make a perfect cup of tea, let’s ask few of Dublin’s best places for that perfect ‘cuppa tae.’

Bewley's Grafton Street Cafe / Photo Credit: Irish Jaunt

Bewley’s Grafton Street Cafe / Photo Credit: Irish Jaunt

I had to find where I could get a perfect cup of tea in Dublin, and for that information, I turned to Niall Harbison at LovinDublin.com who compiled a list of where to get a good cup of tea, as well as finding a place on my own, then the fun began as I went on my quest.  I was surprise at what I learnt.

According to Alexandra Corr, supervisor and team leader with Bewley’s Grafton Street Café, it all depends on a person’s taste and the person.  “People are very picky about their tea,” she said.

Tea Steeping / Photo Credit: a.rosy.outlook (Stacy)

Tea Steeping / Photo Credit: a.rosy.outlook (Stacy)

Bewley’s Master Howard Barrick offers a perfect recipe for making a cuppa on the company’s website.  Using one teabag per cup and pop the tea bag in.  “Add the boiled water straight away, then let the leaves infuse for 3-5 minutes.  Remove the teabag, give the tea a quick stir, pour yourself a cup, add some milk, then sit back, sip and enjoy!”

Bewley’s bills itself as ‘ Ireland’s leading coffee and tea company’ therefore this should end my search correct?  Being a good reporter, I still wanted to conduct more research.

Dublin’s oldest hotel, The Gresham Hotel’s Writers Lounge offers an afternoon tea, maybe they know how to make a perfect cup of tea.  “The traditional way, Irish traditional way that is, fill your cup 3/4.  Add your tea bag and sugar.   Let it sit for 2 1/2 minutes then take the tea bag out before adding milk.  Stir and it’s ready,” said Jack Doyle, manager at the Writers Lounge.

He adds that his grandmother does it this way as well.  This has to be the correct way then right, as this is from a proper Irish tea room.

Tea Bags / Photo Credit: Gasti

Tea Bags / Photo Credit: Gasti

However, I stumbled upon another tea room in Dublin’s North side, Tea Garden, which offers a relaxing atmosphere for tea with cushions instead of chairs around a table.  The staff are friendly and helpful, however, they only serve loose leaf tea and no tea is in a bag.  Well this throws a monkey wrench into the mix.

“If you use loose leaf tea, we use a timer.  Different teas have different times [to soak] before removing [the tea],” said one of the tea preparer’s who per company policy cannot speak on the record.

Michael Ogden, of The Irish Path, says for the perfect cup of Irish tea one bag per cup.  “Add the boiling water and stir. Let steep for 3 to 5 minutes depending on taste, but absolutely no more than 5 minutes.”  Yet, his great grandmother is the one from Athlone, Co. Westmeath, Ireland and not him.  Mr. Ogden resides in upstate New York, U.S.A.  This is advice from an American with Irish roots.  So does it count?  It is helpful, however, I know there are a few more experts to consult.

Tea Time / Photo Credit: Julie

Tea Time / Photo Credit: Julie

Dublin’s best places for tea have provided some insight into with their advice on making the perfect cup of tea, however, I decided to go across the Irish sea and ask the UK Tea & Infusions Association for their advice.

Chairman William Gorman responded to my E-mail request directing me to their dedicated link on their website for the answers.  Once again I learned times vary between the different teas.  According to their website, the average time for leaving tea in is 3 minutes then you want to remove the tea bag.

I even went where I was sure to find out the proper etiquette on tea making, Buckingham Palace.  I rang up their press office as asked if there was a proper royal standard for making a cup of tea for the Queen or Prince.  The press officer laughed and said,”No.  There is no official royal protocol for making a cup a tea.”

Make Time for Tea / Photo Credit: Krissa Corbett Cavouras

Make Time for Tea / Photo Credit: Krissa Corbett Cavouras

No matter where you are in the world if you enjoy tea, there are slight variation on how to make the perfect cup of tea, however, after the water is added the best rule is 3 minutes then remove the tea bag and add milk according to Irish and British tea experts at some of the city best offerings for tea.

Tea Day is the 5th of May 2016, and the event is a fundraiser for The Alzheimer Society of Ireland.  To host your own tea party and help raise money for Alzheimer Society, phone 01 2073833.

Happy tea drinking!

#Tea  #CuppaTae  #TeaLovers  #DrinkTea  #TeaDay

 

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Scot Tanner