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How to make a 'proper' cup of tea!

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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!
 
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Step 1: Boil the water

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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

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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!

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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!
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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.
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.

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

bthcas2 months ago
Im a heathen..i drink herbal tea....no black or green for me
luctay2 years ago
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!

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 luctay1 year ago
A thousand internets to you good sir
mjb19839 months ago

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?

bresule1 year ago

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

KittyF3 years ago
Does a british cup REQUIRE milk? I've never liked milk in my tea.
KittyF3 years ago
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
frenchie166 years ago
If I have no tea cozy, will a hat work?
I just posted my very first instructable ... "How to make a tea cosy" ... check it out:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Making-a-Tea-Cosy-also-spelled-cozy/?ALLSTEPS
stinkymum (author)  frenchie166 years ago
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!
Oops. Like caitlinsdad, I have mis-spelled cosy. Sorry!
If it is Earl Grey Tea, then the correct way of serving is with NO milk and a slice of Lemon to taste
stinkymum (author)  harry_osullivan6 years ago
Absolutely correct - if you like Earl Grey
I like Grey and realize that no milk is nessicary but like it with a bit of milk.
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?
doomsdayltd3 years ago
one can never go wrong with a cup of tea!
It has been a couple of years since you wrote this, but I enjoyed the instruction immensely! Bravo!
hazode5 years ago
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!
redhed605 years ago
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?


Hi,
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
dinosaurus6 years ago
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.
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)  dinosaurus6 years ago
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!
alexhalford5 years ago
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.
stickmop5 years ago
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.
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!
Is there an instructable for teaching the British how to make coffee? Cuz guys, ya kinda need it :)
Bigev6 years ago
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...
aetherwolf6 years ago
I must like mine strong too, because always do one spoonful per cup and one spoon "for the pot"
Thanks for giving this
Very gradual Thanks for giving this
rwctea6 years ago
love it - thanks!!!
caitlinsdad6 years ago
Madam, should tea be poured from high up or gently? There is that flourish and show with pouring tea Turkish/Middle Eastern style but I always felt that the water needed to be aerated after boiling for that extra ooomph. And should the pinky be extended whilst drinking tea? Across the pond we only get our etiquette lessons from Spongebob shows.
stinkymum (author)  caitlinsdad6 years ago
Hi there Caitlinsdad (love the eggs by the way) The pinky should indeed be extended, or rather slightly crooked. (This is one of the main functions of the pinky in my book! although in England it is often refered to as the little finger!) Also the tea can be poured from a height of about six inches so that you can admire the arc it forms between spout and cup! However, it depends if you have a leaky tea pot or not.... Finally - hurrah for Sponge Bob!
Thanks. By the way, you should make some of your own Collegg-tibles so that you can knit a proper egg cosy for them. :-)
stinkymum (author)  caitlinsdad6 years ago
I knitted my egg cosy and posted it today!
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