A Proper Cup Of Tea

Sweet cake with berries and a cup of tea


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A Proper Cup Of Tea

I love a cup of tea in the afternoon.  It is a nice break in the day and a nice pick-me-up.  There are many variations on how to make a proper cup of tea.  Here is my version.


Tea Bag or Tea Leaves

Fresh Cold Water


Tea Kettle

Porcelain Cup

Milk (Not Cream)

Tea Strainer

Sugar (Not Honey)

Make sure to purchase a good quality tea.  A proper English tea is made with black tea.  The tea can be either loose or in bags.  A real tea snob wouldn’t even think of using bags, but you make the call.  Please avoid the cheap boxed bags that can be found at the grocery store (sorry Lipton).  It is a good idea to go to your local tea shop and scan the shelves for a nice high quality tea that is to your liking. 

Purchase a good tea pot.  This is important.  Tea needs to be able to move around in the pot to develop the best taste.  You won’t get a fine flavor by making your tea in a lonely cup.  I like to use a nice English porcelain pot.  They are more expensive, but worth it. 

Use cold fresh water.  Please do not use the water that has already been sitting it the tea kettle because your tea will taste stale.  Make sure to put fresh cold water into the kettle.  It is a good idea to use filtered water to avoid any contaminant that might spoil the taste of the tea.  Make sure to boil the water.  Bring the water to a rolling boil to make certain to get the water at the right temperature.  I prefer a stove top kettle, but some people like to use an electric kettle. 

Heat your teapot while the kettle is boiling.  Run some hot water into the teapot and let it sit for a few minutes.  Warming the teapot helps to keep the boiling water at the right temperature to brew your tea.  It will keep your brewed tea much hotter for much longer. 

Get your tea ready.  Just before the water comes to a boil, pour the hot water out of the teapot and add your tea.  If you are using tea leaves, spoon in a teaspoon for every cup.  I like to add a “plus one for the pot.”  Kind of like a pinch to grow on.  You may want to use a tea ball to hold the loose tea.  If you do use a tea ball be aware that the tea may taste slightly different than if it was loose in the pot as it won’t have much room to move around.  This is important to develop a full flavor.  If you are using tea bags then add two or three to the pot.  If you like your tea stronger then use three bags. 

Add the boiling water to the tea.  Make sure that you are adding water to the tea.  Do not add tea to the water.  Leave the tea to steep for about five minutes as it needs time to unfurl its leaves and develop its flavor.  If you like your tea stronger than let it steep a bit longer.  It is a good idea to cover your teapot with either a tea towel or a tea cozy in order to keep it warm. 

Pour the tea into your porcelain cup.  Some people like to temper their cup with hot water before pouring their cup of tea (pour hot water into their cup, let it sit for a few minutes and pour it out).  If you have used loose tea, rest a tea strainer on your cup to catch any leaves. It is best to serve the full pot of tea right away.  If you don’t plan on drinking the whole pot right way and then remove the tea bags or tea ball so that the tea doesn’t get too strong and bitter. 

Add milk and sugar if you like.  Add these extras only after you have poured your tea.  English tea is commonly served with milk but never cream.  The fat content in cream is too rich for tea’s delicate taste.  Some like to add sugar to their tea as well. Honey is never served in traditional English tea.  I prefer to drink my tea with a splash of milk, but not sugar.  If you like to drink your tea black, you may want to add a slice of lemon.


    Victoria has been cooking and writing recipes since she was a a young girl. Originally from Nebraska, her appreciation for culinary technique took off when she moved to Lyon, France. Victoria is published in Hearst Newspapers, Greenwich Free Press, New Canaanite, and more.

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