Scientists have discovered that the key to the best tasting brew is to let it sit for six minutes before drinking.
Not only does it avoid scolding but by then it has cooled to 60C, the optimum temperature to let the flavours flood out.
But leave it until after 17 minutes and 30 seconds and the tea will be past its best.
The team at the University of Northumbria’s School of Life Sciences spent 180 hours of testing and a panel of volunteers consumed 285 cups of tea in the laboratory to come up with an equation for the perfect cuppa.
They concluded that the best method was to add boiling water to a tea bag in a mug and leave for two minutes.
Then remove the bag and add the milk and leave for six minutes until it reaches optimal temperature of 60C.
Leave too long and it drops below 45C and the flavours destroying the “all round sensory experience”.
The research, which was commissioned by Cravendale Milk, also found that in Britain we drink a staggering 165 million cups of tea per day, or 60.2 billion a year.
It also revealed that the average Briton makes their first cup of tea at seven and a half years old.
Ian Brown, senior lecturer at the University of Northumbria said it was the complex taste of tea that made it so popular.
In taste tests the panel reported prevalent wood and grass “flavour notes” in black or over-brewed tea with hints of lemon, rose and geranium.
However, the addition of milk significantly reduced these and replaced them with toffee and vanilla.
The more milk that was added the more these sweeter notes intensified.
Mr Brown, a food and nutrition expert, said: “When enjoying a cup of tea, our palette requires a balance between bitterness and sweetness.
“Milk quantities and brewing time were key factors studied throughout our investigation into the perfect brew.
“You might not expect to find toffee flavour in black tea, but by adding milk, toffee and vanilla flavours are intensified while the wood and grassy notes are reduced.
“This may explain why 98 per cent of Brits love tea with milk.”
Instructions for perfect cup of tea for one
1. Add 200ml of freshly boiled water to your tea bag (in a mug).
2. Allow the tea bag to brew for 2 minutes.
3. Remove the tea bag.
4. Add 10ml of milk.
5. Wait 6 minutes before consumption for the cuppa to reach its optimum temperature of 60 degrees centigrade