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back to article El Reg contemplates the ultimate cuppa

As regular readers know, we at the SPB are tireless in our pursuit of culinary excellence, and many of you share our penchant for gourmet grub, including the pinnacle of pork perfection that is the bacon sarnie. Last year, you responded magnificently to our invitation to submit nominations for the ultimate sliced-pig-in-bread …

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Re: The ramsay way

I just caught two back-to-back episodes of "Ramsay's Ultimate Cookery Course". Oh. My. Gawd/ess. What a fucking train wreck. I used to think he was a loud-mouthed bully, and a pedestrian (at best) cook. After watching those two episodes, I can't honestly say he's even that good ... Further proof that England is where good ingredients go to die.

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saying this as an engl ish man, my preference is black coffee, but proper coffee, not the American muck

, however if it must be tea, then $tea brand, dash of milk, 2 sugars and so strong you can stand the spoon up in it.

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Location, location, location

The real problem here is that the water used will affect the taste of the tea.

Different parts of the country have different water sources; they will pass through chalk, limestone, granite, clay etc. etc. This changes the quality of the water. You can use the same tea in two different locations and you will get two completely different tastes. This is why many of the brands are more popular in one area rather than another.

For example, living in East Scotland, the only tea worth drinking was Tetley - but the same tea blend in the South West tastes truly vile. The only thing worth having there is PG Tips; but that will produce a very indifferent brew north of the border.

Anyway: hot, in a mug, 1 sugar, splash of milk. Don't rinse, repeat!

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Joke

Re: Location, location, location

Different parts of the country have different water sources; they will pass through chalk, limestone, granite, clay...

..landfill sites, rusty pipes, incontinent sheep.

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Bacon sandwich tea.

I'll take Yorkshire tea by preference, but any decent blended tea in a pinch, brewed in a pot, milk, no sugar thanks. And none of this cobblers about number of bags / spoonfuls being dependant on the number of people, it's the size of the pot that's important here. Mine takes four, regardless of how much of it I end up drinking.

I'm also partial to other teas, both with and without milk depending on type, but not as an accompaniment to a bacon butty as that would be sacreligious.

And will the yank trolls trying to push coffee as anything other than a necessary adjunct to code generation please sod off. Coffee is like cough syrup. It does the job it's supposed to, but you can't help being aware that someone's made a real effort with the flavour to put you off drinking it in quantity.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Bacon sandwich tea.

Yanks do not drink coffee. Never worked out what it is they are drinking. Definitely not coffee. They can not even get the names right. Italians know this: they have ultra-week, bad "coffee", watered down, called, "Americano" (as opposed to "Lungo" for the usual large cup of coffee).

Anyway, tea is the only true, hot drink, especially after a long, cold, mountain walk , when the cheapest transport caff with the largest mug and the greasiest bacon sandwich is pure heaven.

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Tea should be strong and milky. FULL FAT MILK ONLY! None of this hemi demi semi skimmed shite. Sugar to taste, for me half a teaspoon.

As for choice of tea bags, in recent years I've decided that the standard Tetley, PG Tips or Scottish Blend just isn't good enough for me any more. I prefer Organic Fair Trade, various brands are decent including Tesco's own brand.

I make too many cups in a day to mess around with tea leaves.

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Unhappy

Disqualified

I drink Earl Grey without milk or sugar.

My contribution is thus barred.

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J P

I've tried American coffee, and 'swilling' is definitely the appropriate verb. On my first encounter with a filling station coffee machine, I took in the range of syrups, flavourings and other contaminants on offer via the half dozen or so nozzles ranged along the 8' wide monster and thought to myself "Why on earth would anyone want to add all that to a perfectly good cup of coffee?"

Sadly , the answer became apparent all too soon. No-one in their right mind would want to add them to a perfectly good cup of coffee... but adding them to what came out of the coffee machine would have made, well, more sense than drinking it neat. But not quite as much sense as not drinking it at all, which was the option I took for most of the rest of the trip.

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JDX
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It's foolish to suggest that simply because an ingredient is good, it couldn't be improved with other EQUALLY GOOD good ingredients.

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Stop

I must defend American coffee drinkers

(Some of them, anyway...) Commercial American coffee is often (usually?) crap, whether it's the weak, old brews found in gas stations and offices everywhere or the burnt, overpriced stuff they sell at ubiquitous Starbucks. Please note: there are plenty of artisanal roasters, and ordinary folk with proper prep equipment. (drip or press pot for preference).

Beware of that big brush you're painting us with!

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J P

Re: I must defend American coffee drinkers

To be fair, Identity, the worst drink I had between Newark & Vancouver (via Tennessee, Arizona and 19 other States) was actually in Canada. At breakfast, a German crew (we were on a historic car rally) asked me to confirm whether the brown stuff in the mugs was tea or coffee. I thought they were joking, until I tasted it. I honestly could not tell whether it was badly stewed tea or poorly made coffee; there were hints of both.

Catching up with an ex-pat friend later that day, who happened to live about 200 yards off our route, she enlightened me as to the problem. Commercial eateries have a tendency to run both beverages through the same machine, without rinsing between batches. (To make up for it, she gave me a cup of her jealously hoarded imported tea; best cuppa I had on the whole trip).

Hopefully one day I'll get to rerun the route & visit some of the proper coffee joints - and take a little more time to enjoy the scenery...

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Pint

Re: I must defend American coffee drinkers

To be fair, I've never had a good cup of coffee in Blighty. And I've spent a total of 10 years there. The crap you lot call coffee is worse than the worst of the commercial coffee houses here in the US (I'm squinting at YOU Starbucks, Dunkin' Doughnuts & Peet's). The biggest problem seems to be the same as the swill they call "coffee" in Italy ... you use boiling water. Proper water for coffee should be at about 195F ... So I happily drink tea when across the pond. Strong, Yorkshire style, splash of whole milk, no sugar. (The only beverages that I drink containing sugar need to be fermented before they are drinkable.)

THAT said, it's true that most Americans have absolutely zero idea what coffee or tea actually taste like. The pre-roasted, pre-ground, canned (tinned to you Brits) crap is bad enough ... but the institutional varietal (restaraunt/fast-so-called-"food") is even worse. And don't even get me started on the awfulness of "instant" so-called coffee substitute. Vending machine so-called coffee is just plain evil, and offering it should be a hanging offense.

I personally roast my coffee daily (Cone filter (usually), hand poured 195F water, no more than 3 16oz mugs at a time. I drink it black, no sugar), and my Wife drinks the tea my sister sends her from Yorkshire (whole milk, quarter teaspoon of light Agave syrup in 16oz mug). It took a while, but I finally learned that putting a couple of largish marble-sized lumps of limestone in the tea kettle eventually made the water chemistry right for the tea. The trick is to let the scale build up, and try to always leave a cup or so of freshly boiled water in the bottom of the kettle :-)

Beer, because neither the wife, nor I drink caffeinated drink after noon.

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Re: I must defend American coffee drinkers

I went to stay with an American friend a few months back and she made me a coffee. It was divine. She uses a locally grown bean and goes to all the extra lengths of grinding it herself, using filter papers and the net result is like drinking dark silk. <3

Of course, when I got back to Blightly and had Costa Coffee from my local shop it tasted like poison. So essentially she ruined coffee for me. =(

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What? No-one has so far mentioned...

Lapsang Souchong - prince of teas?

Half a teaspoon of leaves in the mug, add *boiling* water, no milk, no sugar, relax in smoky goodness.

Gunpowder teas are acceptable; green teas or even Earl Grey in a pinch - all with no milk or sugar, thank you, but don't even mention fruit 'teas', 'tisanes' or any other of this modern rubbish. If it's not built out of camelia sinensis it's not proper tea. (I shan't repeat the ethical Marxist joke.)

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Ideal tea?

Obtain large mug (chip not required).

One teabag. Gumboot brand.

Couple of tablespoons sugar.

Fill with water to near top.

Generous dollop of real whole milk, none of this skim rubbish.

Stir.

Leave to cool a while.

Drink.

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Take one mug, one Yorkshire Tea bag. Add teabag to mug and pour on boiling water.

Leave to stand for a minute or so, remove bag, add splash of milk.

Whilst at work though I've taken to drinking Roiboos tea without milk, as we have no fridge for milk in the office. It takes a little getting used to, but is very enjoyable when you get the taste for it

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I like Roiboos tea.

It tastes fucking awful with milk.

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Alert

Roiboos / Red Bush

Be careful with that stuff. Apart from the vile stench, too much of it can give you flourosis.

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Jackson's tea bags make a fantastic cuppa, whereas Tetley, PG and the ilk are either milky or stewed, Jackson's make a strong cuppa with out going tart. One sugar (white for tea), full fat milk. This is a proper bloke's cuppa. Drunk from a large mug with a handle you can fit four fat fingers through, not some tiddly little bone china thing. Pouring from a height makes little difference and leaving it to brew never works for me, I find a good thorough stirring is what's needed. Bergamot and tea do not mix.

It's also good if the glaze inside your cup has been eroded by years of spoon collisions, exposing the porous core of the ceramic. Like the patina on an old frying pan, it adds to the flavour.

mm.. patina

While we're on coffee I think some of you are confusing "American" with the modern American interpretation of Espresso style coffee which is sometimes.. well, often, complete swill, although I had a coffee from a Krispy Kreme in the Bullring (Birmingham) a few weeks back and surprisingly it did taste of coffee!

It was still bitter though. A far cry from the fine smooth blend from the sadly now defunct Deliziosa of Nottingham but anyway.. er.. Americans have not always drunk espresso style, not too long ago they favoured filter/drip coffee and even further back.. idk they made it in saucepans and stuff (I read it in a book :3)

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Well anyway, if you've never tried Jackson's tea bags I strongly recommend them. Though I've only ever seen them in Sainsburys

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My versions

Basic work version:

1. Take one wire-mesh tea-strainer spoon, and insert one good teaspoon of Keemun Black tea (Twinings Prince of Wales at a pinch).

2. Nuke water in big mug in industrial-strength microwave oven until it really boils

3. Add tea-strainer spoon.

4. Infuse as long as desired, or alternatively forget about it whilst coding and drink arbitrarily strong

4b) add milk and sugar if you must

Keemun black tea is very dark by nature, and never turns bitter, so forgetting to remove the tea only makes it stronger, but never renders it undrinkable.

On the road version:

replace tea strainer egg by Twinings Prince of Wales tea bags

Working in region with hard water:

Replace Keemun Black by good quality Assam and keep infusion time down. Assam takes hard water better than most

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JDX
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Has nobody mentioned water?

Tea made from hard water is just foul.

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Re: Has nobody mentioned water?

It is important! I am very fortunate to have just about the best water possible coming out of the tap.

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The pot's the thing!

Warm the pot with almost boiling water, so you can barely hold on to the sides, empty the water out just as the kettle comes to the boil for making the tea (fresh water, not second boiled).

Add n serving (bag / teaspoon of loose) per person, plus a serving, to the pot and pour on enough boiling water for the number of mugs/cups you are intending to pour, then put the cosy on the pot. Now leave it to mash (don't force it!) for 3-7 minutes.

Milk of choice, in quantity of choice, in the bottom of the mug then fill with tea (stops the milk scalding and tasting weird that way around).

If forced, allow others to add their preferred quantity of sugar (bleuch!) and enjoy.

Or when in the office, bag in mug, boiling water on bag, nip for a wee to let the tea brew (yes, washed my hands, thanks!), remove bag from mug, add splash of skimmed milk, just enough to make it cloudy, then find desk and consider code. Repeat at regular intervals throughout the day, whenever faced with an intractable problem, or when you've just solved an intractable problem.

Key to proper tea is to never, ever, WASH the brewing vessel - that's where the taste is!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The pot's the thing!

This post is mostly correct, although once the cosy is on the pot it needs to be left for 7-9 minutes. Less than 7 isn't worth it, more than 9 isn't so good, but should still be drunk so as not to waste good tea.

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Alert

No matter what anyone says, tea is made by putting in tea bag, then putting in hot (NOT boiling) water over the top, stirring and squeezing tea bag according to how strong you want your tea, removing tea bag THEN pouring in milk according to taste. All in that order.

If you do it in a different order (like putting in milk before water), then you're doing it 100% wrong.

So there!

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WTF?

This sounds suspiciously like trolling.

Are you a merkin? Water should be boiling for Proper Tea.

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Pint

Don't you all know...

That estate agents do the best cuppas?

they do proper tea...

/stage left

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Joke

What a strange idea....

Why would anyone want to drink boiled, fermented leaves with juice from a cow????

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Terminator

Re: What a strange idea....

"I've got an answer to why the human drinks dried leaves covered in boiling water. It's because he's an ignorant monkey who doesn't know any better! Share and enjoy!"

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Re: What a strange idea....

I grew up in Hebden Bridge in the 1980s so I got to experience some of the alternatives to tea, coffee and milk. Herbal concoctions (can't really call them teas, and "tisanes" just sounds pretentious) may smell OK but without about half a ton of sugar they don't taste of anything. As for Barleycup, just say no.

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PG tips, strong, milk no sugar if you please.

Earl grey, with a bit of milk if I'm feeling posh. No milk if I'm pretending to be a Starfleet captain.

Strong cup of Lapsang Souchong if I want to clear the office.

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The best tea is COFFEE

Specifically, medium-roast Kenya AA, coarsely hand-ground, made in a French press which was preheated with boiling water before the grounds are added. During the brewing process, the bubbles can be periodically pressed through the mesh to maintain a rich grounds-water interface. As the brew proceeds, warm the cup (sorry, that should read, “great big mug”) with hot water.

Drain the warming water from the mug; then 10% coffee cream and Demerara brown sugar are added. The brewed coffee is slowly added, so as not to scald the cream.

In case you can’t find medium-roast Kenya AA — for some reason, they insist on dark-roasting it here in Montreal, which is both preposterous and sacrilegious — and you have as much money as Mitt Romney, then by all means use Jamaican Blue Mountain. It tastes pretty much the same, at only 12 times the price.

One day I would like to try civet-cat-processed coffee. I once heard it described as “gutsy”.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The best tea is COFFEE

Tried the civit cat stuff ... its over priced and over rated.

Can we please leave coffee for another thread. Tea is complicated enough in its own right.

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Re: The best tea is COFFEE

Says the brave, anonymous commentard…

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Pint

Sunday Morning Favourite

Take one large ceramic tea pot

Boil kettle and half fill, warm and discard

Refill and boil kettle

Add 2 English Breakfast tea bags and 1 roobois/red bush

Pour water from a reasonable height

Stand for three minutes with a cosy on the pot.

Serve with milk to taste

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Anonymous Coward

I like my Coffee Strong and Black with milk and sugar.

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@AC 14:49

Black coffee with milk? Neat trick. Please elaborate.

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Tea...

Northern Tea Merchants small leaf assam http://www.northern-tea.com/

Failing that, Yorkshire Gold tea bags

Splash of milk, definitely no sugar.

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Big Brother

Tea heresy

No doubt Orwell would march me to room 101 straight away for this:

1. Place 1 bag of Yorkshire Gold and 1 tea spoon of Indian Chai in the strainer from a broken glass Bodum tea pot.

2. Put the charged strainer into a large ceramic mug.

3. Pour boiling water into the mug until within 1cm of the top.

4. Wait 3 minutes exactly.

5. Withdraw and save the still charged strainer.

6. Add two teaspoons of honey and two tablespoons of full fat milk.

7. Stir until honey and milk are evenly dispersed throughout the fluid column.

8. Enjoy.

9. WHILE tea .NOT. WEAK GOTO 2

Pardon the GOTO, but I have been using this procedure since before GOTO was considered harmful.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Tea heresy

Insanity - you should only put a very strong espresso in a chai

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Call me conventional

But I'll take mine without any horsemeat in it.

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"Milk-in-First" implementation deemed harmful.

Surely, somewhere there's an RFC that covers all this.

If not - WHY NOT? I seem to recall a paper having been authored by N. Mitford on the utter wrongness of the Milk-in-First protocol-implementation.

[My personal infusional-preference is Earl Grey - brewed in and subsequently sipped from, bone-china teaware. As everyone knows, tea should be taken unpolluted by either milk or sugar].

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "Milk-in-First" implementation deemed harmful.

Milk in first is a old old holdover.

Before proper china, our pottery was not up to containing boiling water. So you had to put the milk in first otherwise the bottom dropped out of your pot.

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Re: "Milk-in-First" implementation deemed harmful.

Another theory is that milk in first avoids curdling slightly iffy milk.

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Pint

Cup or Mug?

Mug for me, and don't get me started on hot tea in glass glasses

Though I will admit it is entertaining to watch someone pick up said glass and take three steps before realising they are melting their fingers to the glass, can't decide whether to turn back or go on, won't drop it so have to grit their teeth while pretending they are not suffering excruciating agony and looking like they are having a stroke or heart attack.

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Tea.. !!

Betty's [only available in York, Harrogate, Northallerton or Ilkely] Earl Grey. Bags.

Black [no milk!]

No sugar.

1 minute in the mug and out.

Perfect.

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Re: Tea.. !!

That's "Bettys", you hooligan.

The place to take a girl on a Saturday afternoon after the pictures back when I was getting me Os & As in Harrogate (mid-late 1970s-ish). The coffee was crap, but they could sure brew a nice cuppa! The other accouterments (scones, cakes, biscuits ("cookies" to my fellow Yanks), etc. were really nice, too.

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