As leaves begin to fall and icy winds gust, we bid autumn goodbye and say hello to winter with open arms. We’re taking our cue from the English this weekend as we celebrate the Queen’s Birthday and retreat indoors to warm up over a cup of English Breakfast Tea, a robust morning brew the English traditionally paired with their morning meal.
For Maryanne Shearer, founder of the highly successful T2 teashop chain, the world of tea is vast and beautiful. “Each cup contains a story and there’s always more to see,” she says.[fold]
It was a brainstorming session for a homewares concept she had been mulling over with her former business partner over a cup of tea that sparked the birth of Shearer’s first T2 store in Melbourne, which emerged on Fitzroy’s Brunswick Street in July 1996. Seventeen years later, Shearer has opened more than 30 stores all across Australia.
Among the 200 teas on offer in the massive T2 range, you’ll find the English Breakfast Tea nestled in the good company of other enigmatic black tea varieties such as the Aussie Breakfast, Irish Breakfast and Morning Red.
For the English Breakfast Tea drinker, consistency in flavour is key. “The T2 English Breakfast Tea always tastes the same, but may never use the same blend,” Shearer explains of the popular drink, “T2’s English Breakfast Tea is a Sri Lankan broken-leaf blend, which is created each season with leaves from different estates to achieve a consistent flavour profile.”
While T2’s English Breakfast concoction differs from the traditional blend of Sri Lankan tea, Assam from India and Keemun from China, Shearer believes there are no rules. “Everyone does it differently and that’s okay.” We think so too.
The ceremony of making tea is almost sacred; the intricate steps should be carried out with care in order to make the perfect brew. Shearer cites maintaining the temperature of the water as the foundation for brewing a black tea (100 degrees Celsius). A helpful tip she shares is to heat the teapot before you start, otherwise the heat from the water gets transferred to the pot, resulting in your tea brewing at a lower temperature. The right amounts of tea and brew time are also essential. In order to brew your tea for the perfect duration, Shearer suggests using a brewing basket or infuser.
“It means you can stop the infusion completely when your brew is ready. Because even the smallest amount of leaf in the pot will continue the brewing process and spoil a great cup of tea.”
The clean and sharp flavour profile of the English Breakfast Tea makes it a perfect accompaniment with a hearty breakfast; it goes well with desserts too, as it balances out the sweetness. And of course, what’s the Queen’s Birthday weekend without some tea and scones?
Once the teapot is hot, measure the correct amount of tea (1 teaspoon to 250ml of boiling water) and brew for 2–4 minutes before removing the leaves. Brew for 4 minutes if you enjoy your tea strong, then add milk and sugar as desired. Take care not to over brew, as the tea can be a little astringent.
If drinking without milk, brew the tea for a shorter time (2–3 minutes).