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My Favourite Standard: ISO 3103

The standard that governs the process of making a cup of tea

ISO 3103 feature image

When I write about ISO, more often than not, I am referring to ISO 27001, a standard for information security management systems.


However, as many of us know, Inverifi supports many more standards – ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and ISO 31000, to name a few.


This blog entry is about my favourite standard: ISO 3103.

My culture

I’m English, and as I’m sure you know, English people like their tea.


Now, here’s something that may surprise you: English people aren’t always that good at making tea.


From putting too much milk in, to leaving the tea bag in too long, people have made many mistakes making tea.


It’s not just England that has this problem. Tea is also popular in China, India, and Turkey, among many other countries.


And you can rest assured: in every country where tea has cultural significance, and indeed in many that don’t, many bad cups of tea are made every day.


But what if there was a standard for making tea? Everyone could just follow the standard, and we’d get a perfect cup of tea every time!


Well, there’s no need to ask, “what if?”

ISO 3103

ISO 3103 is a standard that governs the process of making a cup of tea. The procedure is as follows:


  1. Add loose tea to a pot with a serrated edge. Use 2g of tea per 100ml of water.

  2. Pour freshly boiled water into the pot.

  3. Put a lid on the pot and allow to brew for 6 minutes.

  4. If the tea is to be served with milk, add it to your tasting bowl now.

  5. Pour the tea into the tasting bowl through the serrations.

  6. Taste the tea, in accordance with ISO 1839.


This brief description of the procedure isn’t exhaustive. If you want the full procedure, we recommend buying a copy of the standard.

In all seriousness…

As you’ve probably worked out by now, the purpose of ISO 3103 isn’t to govern how you make tea at home. It isn’t meant to produce a “perfect” cup of tea either.


The purpose of this standard is to produce a standard cup of tea – a cup of tea that can be replicated, anywhere in the world, by anyone with the correct equipment.


That being said, if you’re being audited for an ISO standard, feel free to offer your auditor a cup of tea – but please, don’t make them the ISO standard cup of tea. It’ll taste awful, and you’ll ruin their day.


Come back next year for RFC 1149!

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