Come summer or winter, there’s always time for a cup of tea. Even if it's scorching outside, you better believe we’ll still be putting the kettle on.
Especially amid a pandemic, a calming cuppa can be comforting, not to mention a brilliant hangover cure for your Friday night zoom catch up with friends.
Marked in our calendars is 21 May for International Tea Day, and here at IndyBest, we’re well experienced in the department, having tried and tested everything from kettles to plastic-free teabags.
Up ahead is the tea making arsenal you need to make sure every cuppa is a good one.
You can trust our independent round-ups. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.
Kicking off with the foundation for any great tea is of course, tea bags. You might think tea bags are just simply paper and tea, and that they decompose, so you’re doing your bit by putting them in your home food waste to compost.
But, you’re wrong – unless you use plastic free tea bags, that is.
In actual fact, many of the tea bags we buy contain polypropylene, which is what the tea bags are sealed with, so when you put in the used bags in your food waste, you’re actually putting toxic chemicals into your beautiful compost that will eventually seep into the ground.
Each tea bag is unbleached (hence its more earthy colour), organic, Fairtrade, plastic free and non genetically modified (GM). If that’s not enough to convince you, it was even the world’s first Fairtrade tea, as noted by our reviewer. The tea bag is made from abaca plants – a type of banana – and the plastic that seals the bag is replaced with a material made from non-GM plants. It's become our new go-to for a good brew.
This is infused with ethically sourced hemp (CBD), chamomile and spearmint to help mental and physical relaxation, calm feelings of anxiety and soothe digestive discomfort, making it the ideal cuppa to create a bit of inner peace before bedtime.
It also uses ashwagandha – a root commonly used in Ayurvedic practice to treat insomnia. When blended with other supercharged healing herbs, it helps to encourage a deep, restorative sleep.
If you’re looking to cut back on caffeine, but still want your tea fix, try a herbal alternative instead.
Try the Whittard Marrakech mint 50 traditional tea bags (Whittard, £5.50) for a refreshing brew when the 3pm tiredness hits. It’s a blend of smoky green tea with pure peppermint leaves. The brand recommendeds leaving it to brew slightly before drinking.
Or if you like superfoods in your diet, try Supertea's moringa organic tea (Beyond Living, £4.50 for 20), made with lemongrass and moringa for a sweet but healthy kick.
Put the kettle on
Like a best friend, a good kettle should be reliable, long-lasting and completely dependable.
The British-made kettle is a registered Quiet Mark appliance, and its “whisper boil” function certainly lives up to its name – our reviewer found it’s as quiet as they come. It also ticks all the boxes when it comes to design and function; the kettle sturdily fits into its base with barely a wobble. It pours smoothly and has a comfortable, ergonomically-designed silicon grip handle.
It has a window which measures capacity in litres (maximum 1.7l) and cups, so you can fill it with the exact amount of water you need, and save time, energy and wastage in the process. Its 3000W output means it’s efficient, even when boiling seven cups of tea. This kettle also looks the part; its stylish chrome and copper finish making it a stylish addition to any home.
If you’re very particular about getting the water to the exact temperature to suit your drink of choice, consider investing in a variable temperature kettle.
We’d recommend the Bosch TWK7203GB (Argos, £79.99) which doesn’t come cheap, but it has a clear wow factor.
According to our reviewer, it’s a doddle to use via the touchscreen base that enables you to choose temperatures between 70C and 100C in five-degree increments, and there are even four presets for your favourite drinks, plus a 30-minute keep-warm function.
At 1.7l, it’s a decent size for larger families, yet you can boil as little as one mug, making it energy efficient. It’s ergonomic to hold, easy to pour and signals when it’s started and finished boiling with a short bleep.
Try a teapot
If you’re planning on making a round of well-brewed teas, use a teapot.
Erica Moore of Edinburgh tea room and online emporium Eteaket previously told The Independent what to look for: “For the most commonly drunk black teas, you’ll want a pot that retains heat well like a ceramic or cast-iron pot. It’s worth remembering that darker colours won’t show the stains that may occur from the tannins in tea.
We love this Denby blue haze teapot (John Lewis and Partners, £50).
Denby’s classic Imperial Blue collection graced many a kitchen table in the Eighties, and the modern update, with its deep blue fading to stony white, deserves to be just as popular. It makes a lovely cup of tea and is a sophisticated display piece, too.