Celebrity chefs the world over dedicate a massive amount of time teaching us how to properly pan sear a tuna with sprigs of parsley, or bake a perfect Soufflé, and we thank them for that service. An area they tend not to touch, however, is the realm of perfect hot drinks. Arguably, this makes sense- drinks aren’t really food- and as a general rule, most of us are pretty dead set in our ways as to how we do things when it comes to business with the kettle. So, we here at Silke decided to step in and fill that niche by offering some advice on how to do things old-school.
Tea is a drink that is as rich in history as it is in flavour; once associated with the higher classes (and with a typical afternoon tea having its own set of social codas that were rigidly followed, one might say, to the T), it is nowadays drunk by many people of all walks of life, any time of the day, and has become something of a national drink; despite the fact we kinda sorta robbed it from Asia and India. Oops. The traditional tea as we know it now – Builders Tea, as it is often called – is quite a bit different from the traditional tea, mostly by forgoing the ceremony of a pot, cup ‘n saucer, and tea strainer by way of tea bags and hot water poured into a mug with the amount of sugar of your choosing; we’ll go ahead and assume you all already know that much.
Perfect Hot Drinks Flavour
Some of you might not know however that Tea, unlike Coffee, will need a little bit of time to dilute and flavour the hot water before the milk is added, so it’s best to leave the tea bag steeped in the water for around about two to three minutes for a smooth, even flavour. Some, however, like to leave the bag steeped for longer- around five to seven minutes- for a stronger flavour, but be warned; you run the risk of over-brewing, leaving your tea with little bits of film on top. Alternatively, regular tea bags can be used as a substitute when making some flavoured teas, if you favour the rich flavour of darker tea- for example, instead of adding milk a few minutes after the teabag is steeped, you can add a little bit of lemon juice and honey just after you finish pouring the hot water. It might not win you a best tea maker award, but bet your bottom dollar you could fool at least a couple of celebrity chefs into thinking you used something other then PG Tips.
Speaking of Coffee, though maybe not quite as closely associated with the identity of the country, it’s just as, if not slightly more popular then tea is in the modern age. Yet a lot of us still depend on faux-fancy (and, rarely, real-fancy) coffee houses and outlets to provide us with the best of the best, when in reality, it’s actually fairly easy to produce a nice, milky coffee with an even flavour at home. The trick to producing these perfect hot drinks, at least in part, is in the order the components are mixed, and how the water is poured into the beverage; first off, it’s coffee, sugar, milk, then water, not coffee, sugar, water, milk. Mixing the milk in first generally keeps the mixture a little bit creamier, and tends not to taste as “watery” that way.
Secondly, instead of pouring at a static height close to the rim of the mug, start low, pour slow, and gradually raise the kettle up as you pour. You’ll notice that an even foam settles on top of your coffee that way, and so long as you stir for enough time (and with enough ease of motion), it help makes for a silkier drink that practically slides down the gullet. Of course, that’s accounting for those that like milk with their Coffee; if you favour something stronger, you can wing it by doubling up on the amount of granules you put in the mug, and repeat the low-slow-and-rise technique whilst stirring evenly, to produce a rich, hearty, and very strong cup that’ll be sure to wake you up in no time.