Proof That Britain is a Nation of Diversi-tea, With 24 Million Ways to Make a Cuppa... and a Bagful of Science in the Blending from Tetley

Posted on the 15 November 2017 by Loup Dargent @loup_dargent

Academic James Hind (left) & Tetley Master Blender Sebastian Michaelis (right) examine the prefect blend (PRNewsfoto/Tetley)

The YouGov research, commissioned by Tetley Tea to mark its 180th birthday and analysed by mathematician Dr James Hind of Nottingham Trent University, factors in all possible variables when it's time to pop the kettle on.
From brew time, milk levels and dunking behavior to sweetener choice, water (or milk) first and overall water temperature, the reality is that it all boils down to personal taste.
As for the most commonly drunk cuppa, this involves 60 seconds of brewing, a dash of cold semi-skimmed milk, three dunks of the teabag, no sugar, drunk hot from a mug and made by the drinker themselves.
But according to master tea blender, Sebastian Michaelis, whose taste buds are insured for £1m, all 24 million possible cuppas start with one perfect blend, revealing there is still science behind the art of the individual cuppa.
That's why he has spent months with Dr Hind in the Tetley tea rooms, where over 40,000 cups of tea are tasted every week, developing a mathematical equation for the perfect blend that is the basis for 24 million possible cuppas.

Missy (Michelle Gomez) drinking tea  (Image via BBC)

The equation for the perfect blend:
Perfect Blend=Sin(Y114.5⁄)√ZB+CS(π−W)(5T⁄)
• Y = years of experience (180 years for Tetley)
• W = Weight of tea in the teabag (3.125 for Tetley)
• T = duration of training for blenders (5 years for Tetley)
• Z = Zing (1-30)
• B = Body (1-30)
• C = Colour (1-45)
• S = Sparkle (1-50)
The key variables center on the process of perfecting a blend from crop to cup, including years (Y) of experience and weight (W) of tea in the teabag.
Also captured is the duration of training (T) for the master tea blenders and the color (C), size and density of the leaf; the brew's purity of color (its sparkle - S); the weight of the tea in the mouth (its body - B) and the overall liveliness of the tea on the palate (its zing - Z).

Madame Vastra's Sontaran butler Strax serving tea (image via Horrorpedia)

Sebastian Michaelis comments: "What I found fascinating is that there are so many possible ways of making a cup of tea, but there is no secret method for the perfect cuppa. Everyone takes their tea a little differently, which is why no one can quite make it as perfectly as you. Whether you add milk or not, drink it weak or strong, what is crucial to a great cup of tea however is the blending.

The complexity of the equation reflects the many layers required to craft the nation's favorite drink. Blending tea, like blending whisky or champagne, is both a science and an art. Tetley tea blenders spend five years training and honing our ability to be able to taste and grade any of the thousands of different varieties of tea in the world in just 15 seconds.

Without the right balance of flavours, brightness and body, your tea would taste less like a Grand Cru and more like cheap plonk!

With the blend perfected, the nation's nuances and twists on how they take their tea then come in to play.

• According to the research, 48% brew the teabag for at least a minute, with almost a third of UK tea drinkers considering brewing time the most important factor when it comes to making tea.

• Whilst one in 10 Brits favour a more traditional take on the cuppa, drunk from a teacup rather than a mug, a small but significant 3% of white tea takers opt for the less traditional in heating up the milk first!

• 44% of people think they make the best cup of tea and 14% say they prefer ones made by their partners. Meanwhile, office tea rounds could soon be on their way out, with only 1% preferring their colleagues' method of making tea.

• Despite 'hot' being the most common temperature for tea to be consumed, 24% of Brits prefer theirs 'warm' and a whopping 72% take no sugar, with 17% instead opting for replacements such as honey or sweeteners.
• As for what makes the worst cup of tea, putting in too much milk comes top (20%), followed by splitting the tea bag by squeezing it too hard (16%) and reheating tea in the microwave (15%).

SOURCE: Tetley
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