Introduction: How to Make a 'proper' Cup of Tea!

Picture of How to Make a 'proper' Cup of Tea!

It is a well-known fact that since the Americans tried to make tea in Boston Harbor, using harbour water, they have had a hard time making a 'proper' cup of tea!

As a 'proper' Englishwoman, I will instruct those of you (especially all my friends in the Boston area) that wish to learn, how to make a 'proper' cup of tea the English way.

You will need

A kettle (no microwaves, please)
A proper tea pot (with more than one hole inside the spout!)
A tea cosy, to keep the tea pot warm (which can also warm your hands on a cold day)
Loose tea, or tea bags (tea bags with no tags, strings or outer wrappings)
A tea strainer if you use loose tea. I don't use mine much any more now that I have found the round tea bags that don't have the excessive outer wrappings, string and staples!

Step 1: Boil the Water

Picture of Boil the Water

Boil the water in the kettle. THE WATER MUST BE BOILING!
Take your 'proper' tea pot (one which has several holes inside the spout) to the kettle and put a small amount of boiling water into it. Replace the lid.

Empty out the hot water from the tea pot. This is called 'warming the pot' and is absolutely essential. You cannot make a nice cup of tea in a cold pot.

Step 2: Return the Kettle to the Stove Top

Picture of Return the Kettle to the Stove Top

Return the kettle to the stove top (or plug back in if it is one of those new fangled jobbies). The water must be brought back to the boil. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of having the water ABSOLUTELY BOILING before pouring on the tea in the pot - but beware of steam burns.

Step 3: The Tea!

Picture of The Tea!

Place the tea bags (or loose tea leaves) in the warmed pot. The number of bags or spoonfuls will depend on the size of the tea pot. Rule of thumb for me is one tea bag or spoonful per cup of tea required. I like my tea strong!

Step 4: Take the Pot to the Kettle

Picture of Take the Pot to the Kettle

With your tea in the pot, take the tea pot to the kettle (not the other way round), and making sure the water is still boiling,fill the tea pot with boiling water. Replace the lid and cover immediately with the tea cosy.

No tea cosy - follow this link!

Step 5: A Nice Cup of Tea!

Picture of A Nice Cup of Tea!

Let the tea in the tea pot stand for a few minutes for the tea to brew. The tea cosy will keep the tea warm for a long time. Take your tea cup and saucer (prererably of the finest English bone china) pour a little milk into the cup (milk in first, please!) and then fill with the clear, hot, amber liquid of life! Add sugar to taste and there you are!

A nice cup of tea - all ready to drink!



PlayaSinNombre (author)2017-12-02

It's just not the same without the harbor water :(

harry_osullivan (author)2008-09-25

If it is Earl Grey Tea, then the correct way of serving is with NO milk and a slice of Lemon to taste

R&IM (author)harry_osullivan2017-06-13

That's good for herbal tea ...

Absolutely correct - if you like Earl Grey

Rjdsmith (author)stinkymum2008-10-05

I like Grey and realize that no milk is nessicary but like it with a bit of milk.

praise_song (author)Rjdsmith2012-02-24

I'm an avid tea drinker. I prefer Earl Grey over all other teas ... and I drink it with a small splash of milk, and a 1/2 tsp. of sugar (or agavé nectar). There really are no "rights" nor "wrongs" ... it's all dependent on YOUR tastebuds! :o)
No lemon in any hot tea, and some hot teas don't need any milk or anything in them ... I only take lemon in a big glass of iced tea! To each his own, right?

luctay (author)2013-06-03

Could you do another instructable on how to drink a cup of tea? I have now made a 'proper' cup of tea but don't know what to do next. Please be quick I think it's getting cold!

R&IM (author)luctay2017-06-13

And enjoy ! :))

R&IM (author)luctay2017-06-13

Drink it !

WTF it's been a year and still no follow-up instructable on this...I tried to google a proper drinking solution and ended up in the hospital with 3rd degree burns on my sphincter.

HJDAP (author)luctay2013-11-30

A thousand internets to you good sir

bthcas (author)2015-04-04

Im a heathen..i drink herbal black or green for me

R&IM (author)bthcas2017-06-13

I drink all kind of tea I don't mind .

postmaan paat (author)2012-07-15

A few points that you need to be aware of in making a proper cup of tea.

The water must not be reboiled before it is poured into the teapot. The process is a chemical reaction which requires oxygen in the water and reboiled water does not have this in sufficient quantity.

Being a chemical reaction over time the amount of time for brewing is essential. On pouring the water onto the tea leaves caffeine will be produced which gives the feel good factor. But after about 3 mins tannin starts to be produced which gives the bitter taste of stewed tea. So for best tea a brewing time of between 3 and 4 mins is optimal.

It is irrelevant as to whether the milk should be put in before or after the tea but it was considered common to put the milk in first and posh to put the milk in after. I drink my tea without milk anyway.

Hope that this helps with your proper cup of tea.

R&IM (author)postmaan paat2017-06-13

That's exactly what I do . But you explained it .

JennyT3 (author)postmaan paat2015-05-25

Boiling is a physical change, not a chemical change. The water changes into gaseous H2O (steam) as it boils, but all this means is that the molecules are moving more quickly. The chemical makeup of the water stays the same.

BenD62 (author)JennyT32016-01-25

Water that we drink is not pure h2o. It has dissolved minerals and gasses in it oxygen being one of them. As the water heats this O2 is lostore easily to the surroundings.

nebulous13 (author)JennyT32015-07-10

True. But a pot of water isn't just pure H2O. There are also tons of trapped O2 molecules in there. What do you think fish are breathing? They aren't giving off hydrogen. Those bubbly things you see in aquariums are replenishing the O2. Boiling water forces the trapped O2 to escape. Beer brewers, for instance, know that they have to re-oxygenate the beer after boiling so that yeast have something to work with. That said, I don't think losing O2 is a concern w/ tea. The kettle is covered when you boil and you'd have to leave it boiling for about 15 minutes to deplete the O2.

YukinoT (author)postmaan paat2015-04-02

wow thanks,I love tea but dont really know much about how to properly make a cup of tea,and this help a lot,thanks,im gonna make one now :3

berbsmyma (author)2016-06-19

I want to purchase a "proper" teapot online, but none of the photos I've seen show what the inside of the teapot looks like. Can you recommend some that have several holes inside the spout? And, do the smaller teapots (1 to 2 cup) come this way? Thank you for your patience. I'm an American who wants to do this tea thing the correct way! :)

McFeisty (author)berbsmyma2016-07-01

Those holes are a pain to clean (pipe cleaners every time. or they'll be clogged!), and don't even work to filter out all the tea leaves, some always get through. Don't bother with a teapot that has them, just get a strainer to put over the cup when pouring, it will catch any leaves (image of the adorable teapot shaped strainer I use, attached). Or, if you're using teabags, those strainer holes aren't needed anyway.

R&IM (author)McFeisty2017-06-13

I've been making tea for 2 years and I have always used strainers . A TIP :

If you have hard water in your area you should leave the tea to rest a minute to get the rocks inside the water at the bottom .

berbsmyma (author)McFeisty2016-07-24

Thank you, McFeisty. I'll do just that!

AlexW231 (author)2017-01-03

I can't fathom why you'd use bags?! A proper loose leaf should be
used, though the new pyramid shaped bags seem to be better than the
traditional satchels. The one bit that was never addressed is the type
of tea: Earl Grey and English Breakfast (basically Ceylon) seem to be
ubiquitous. I prefer a nice Darjeeling, which prefers a cooler brew
(185 vs boiling) - a good rule of thumb is to NOT pre warm the tea pot -
just pour your water directly in and it will cool to about 185.

R&IM (author)AlexW2312017-06-13

I prefer the oolong tea which is sensitive to heat . That's why I don't pre-warm the tea pot and don't boil the water . AlexW231 I like your comment

R&IM (author)2017-06-13

You shouldn't boil the water . The water should be CLOSE TO BOILING or else you will destroy the healthy stuff from there . You will just have flavour ! :(

Liam Selin (author)2016-01-09

this was a really decent tutorial i Would aprecciate a proper response! Thank you!

mjb1983 (author)2014-09-19

If I understand correctly, we add the tea to the pot then serve the tea after it has steeped for the appropriate amount of time. If there is still tea remaining in the pot after everybody has been served you place the tea cozy on the pot and continue to serve until the tea runs out. The question this leaves me with is this: Doesn't that leave us with "oversteeped tea"? Will somebody please clarify?

bresule (author)2014-04-07

You only have to put the milk in first if you use chipped/ poorly made teacups.

The reason this tradition started was because in the lower classes the tea would be too hot for the tea cups, and would sometimes cause them to shatter. The milk in first would stop that from happening.

Other than that the order shouldn't change the taste or experience :3

KittyF (author)2012-03-05

Does a british cup REQUIRE milk? I've never liked milk in my tea.

KittyF (author)2012-03-05

Grandpa always had Grandma make his with a spoonful for each cup and one for the pot. He was from south of London. Wonder if he'd be a lost breed if I'd ever get over there. LOL

frenchie16 (author)2008-09-27

If I have no tea cozy, will a hat work?

praise_song (author)frenchie162012-02-24

I just posted my very first instructable ... "How to make a tea cosy" ... check it out:

stinkymum (author)frenchie162008-09-28

a hat would work, but you would not have a hole for the spout or handle - but could take the hat off the teapot before you pour the tea!

frenchie16 (author)frenchie162008-09-28

Oops. Like caitlinsdad, I have mis-spelled cosy. Sorry!

doomsdayltd (author)2011-12-10

one can never go wrong with a cup of tea!

starfleet4u2 (author)2011-03-15

It has been a couple of years since you wrote this, but I enjoyed the instruction immensely! Bravo!

hazode (author)2010-03-25

Good instructable, but I much prefer making my tea the basic "half arsed" way. Bag in cup, add sugar, add boiling water, stir, and milk, stir, remove bag, stir, drink!

redhed60 (author)2010-02-25

Ah, tea!  Is there any more comforting and companiable beverage in the world?  I already knew how to make a "proper" cup of tea (thanks, Pax Lodge Staff!), but I thoroughly enjoyed your entertaining tea instructable. 

I have a tea cosy in the works, but where did I put all those souvenir tea towels I brought back from the UK?

rajeswari.arun (author)2010-01-21

I just made tea according to your instructions.(I didnt have a proper tea pot,so i used a clean glass jar.But i have ordered  my tea pot already!) It was the most wonderful cup of tea i have ever had! Took me back to childhood when there used to be a whole flask full of sweet smelling tea all day round in my house ...Thank you so much for passing on this much needed information.My husband and i are "tea-nuts" ,so this was extremely helpful.
Thanks again

dinosaurus (author)2008-10-29

You forgot one thing. The best tea is brewed with soft water. Water in the North of England is soft - great for brewing tea. And water in the South is hard - best for brewing beer. Apparently... Not quite sure what kind of water is in America though.

potrocks420 (author)dinosaurus2009-12-28

here in the back woods of Oklahoma we have nothing but hard water...went outta state once, and after i took a shower i felt all slimy like cause the soft water

stinkymum (author)dinosaurus2008-11-02

Water where I am on Long Island is softish - where I am staying in England at the moment is hard - but I bought the special Yorkshire tea for hard water! A new one on me, but delish!

alexhalford (author)2009-11-28

I will start by mentioning that I very much enjoyed your instructable. However, I have a slight quibble with it; one that I would not have brought up had I not noticed Caitlindad's care in spelling the word "cosy" with an "s", rather than with a "z". In reference to step two, the word "emphasise" is, in England, more correctly spelt with an "s" rather than with a "z".
Pedantic, I know, but since this is proper English tea, I thought I ought to mention.
Otherwise, a very informative instructable.

stickmop (author)2009-09-05

I forgot where I read it (not Douglas Adams I don't think), but the suggestion was not to cover the tea in the pot, either with the lid or a cozy. This lets the tea breathe while it's steeping. I've tried it both ways and I think my Red Rose black tea tastes better this way. After my first cup, I'll keep the rest warm with a towel wrapped around the pot.

lilpepsikraker (author)2009-08-19

I make tea and let it steep overnight. MMMM strong tea! 2 Luzianne and a Constant Comment with a cuppa sugar makes a gallon. And damned it's strong!

capn_midnight (author)2009-06-19

Is there an instructable for teaching the British how to make coffee? Cuz guys, ya kinda need it :)

Bigev (author)2009-02-27

I've always puzzled over the British tea thing. Since I'm from America, the only tea I've had is the put-teabag-in-mug, pour-in-hot-water junk. It's pretty gross. Unfortunately I also dislike the taste of coffee and hot chocolate, so my experience in hot drinks has been limited to warm milk. But that is only good at about three AM after a fitful sleep. Seeing this, really makes me want to try a cup of English tea. But I have no supplies. Oh well...

aetherwolf (author)2009-02-20

I must like mine strong too, because always do one spoonful per cup and one spoon "for the pot"

isurudikkumbura (author)2009-02-06

Thanks for giving this

About This Instructable




Bio: Born in England many years ago, moved to California in 1980, moved to New York in 1993, became a US citizen. Favourite place to visit ... More »
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