A ‘proper’ cup of tea

English cup of tea

The hustle and bustle of modern living, has taken its toll on the niceties of daily life. Such as making a proper cup of tea, brewed in a teapot. Instead of tossing a tea bag into a mug of hot water, and giving it a stir. A good cup of tea is neither difficult nor time consuming to make. However, there’s a right and a wrong way to do it. The latter is definitely the wrong way!

For me, no beverage gives more satisfaction than a steaming hot cup of freshly brewed tea. An opinion apparently shared by others. The British drink 165 million cups of tea every day. Even the coffee loving Dutch drink a 100 litres a year. So isn’t it time we started making tea correctly? Which begs the question, “what is the correct way to make tea?”

In an article entitled ‘A nice cup of tea’, George Orwell recommends observing 11 ‘golden’ rules, some of which would today be regarded as optional or outdated. However, the essential ones are easy to remember, and well worth the effort. So with Mr. Orwell’s words ringing in my head, here’s a recipe for the perfect cuppa.

How to make the perfect cup of tea

  1. Use a good quality loose leaf or bagged tea. Preferably Indian or Sri Lankan tea,
    if drunk with milk. “Anyone who has used that comforting phrase ‘a nice cup of tea’
    invariably means Indian tea”.
  2. Make the tea in a pre-warmed teapot. China or earthenware teapots give the best results.
  3. Measure the tea carefully. Use 1 tea bag or 1 rounded teaspoon
    of loose tea for each cup to be served.
  4. This is without doubt the most important point. “Take the teapot to the kettle and not
    the other way about”. The water must be boiling at the moment it is poured over the tea.
    Water from a flask or coffee machine is almost never boiling.
  5. Give the tea a good stir before letting it brew for the recommended time.
  6. Last but by no means least, always pour the tea into the cup first, never the milk. I’ll allow
    Mr. Orwell to explain: “..by putting the tea in first and stirring as one pours, one can exactly
    regulate the amount of milk whereas one is liable to put in too much milk if one does it the other way round”.

If this all seems like a lot of messing about, let me say this, my father can always tell when tea has been brewed properly in a pot, or made in a cup. And I for one believe he has a point.


The photographs are of my favourite Art Deco tea service “Twente”, made in
the 1930’s by Société Céramique, Maastricht, The Netherlands.




  1. David Davenport says:

    This is Iain’s Dad, Tea always has a much smoother taste when made in a proper pot, any discerning tea drinker can tell the difference immediately. Try it

  2. Lovely set of cups. It reminds me of Hyacinth Bucket in the sitcom “Keeping up Appearances”. I used to love watching it so much. It was so funny. Thanks for sharing that lovely photo. Have a lovely week!

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