It’s a topic that, somehow, we talk about more than you’d think in the Baker household, especially when we’re with either set of grandparents.

How long do you stew? Or, in other words, how long do you leave your tea to brew?

My side of the family (Granny Bear and Grandad Bear, the northeners) seems to wave a teabag near some hot water and consider it stewed. They won’t even allow one teabag each, only one is placed in the teapot for 2 people, and where a pot is scarce, they re-dunk one teabag for two cups.

The other grandparents however (Grandma Bear and Grandpa Bear, the southerners/antipodeans) like to set a timer for their char. I think at the last count it was a full 4 minutes for normal breakfast tea. 4 minutes! Do you know how long that is?? As a non-tea-drinker myself (my mum still tries to get me to drink it), that is an extra 3 minutes and 30 seconds I have to stand in the kitchen waiting for the tea to sit and stew, after I’ve stirred my instant coffee and added milk, therefore having a hot drink made and ready for myself. Then I have a dilemma. Do I leave the kitchen to start doing something else for those 3 minutes or hang around to ensure removal of the teabag at the right moment? And even more perplexing – do I put the milk away or leave it out until the 4minutes are up?? #middleclassproblems

I recently read that in order for healthy antioxidants to be released you have to brew for 5 minutes. Well, so says Dr Stu Farrimond, an expert in the science of making a proper cup of tea. Well, Dr Stu, Daddy Bear, who takes after his parents and prefers a 4 minute timer for his rosy lee, actually agrees with you! I think his exact words when I asked him about it were ‘if you don’t brew tea properly then what’s the point?’ He also said ‘if you haven’t got time to wait for a cup of tea to brew then your life is too busy.’ Now, I’m sure he doesn’t wait 4 or 5 minutes for every cuppa during the day, and he definitely doesn’t reject an under-stewed mug if made by someone else (especially Granny and Grandad Bear!). But I get what he’s saying. When he is at home in a quiet moment (or 5!), undisturbed by 3 foot high chaos-bringers, he loves to make a good cup of tea, which involves taking things slowly, and allowing the flavours to steep well into the cup. If it is accompanied by a biscuit or 5 to undo all those antioxidants then all the better.

A scary afterthought – imagine if Granny Bear made a brew for Grandma and Grandpa Bear?! I think the world might just end.