Saturday, March 31, 2012

How to Make a “Proper" Cup of Tea (British Tea, that is)

*BLETHER will be explained at the end of the post

I've been posting a lot of Italian recipes lately, so I'm going to do something British for a change, since it's an overcast, drizzly day here in Los Angeles (we don't get a lot of those).

I have a theory that from the day of the Boston Tea Party, the US continued their boycott of tea for such a long time, and because it was obviously associated with the tyranny of the "mother country," that coffee became the preferred hot beverage in this country.

Tea is an institution in the UK; it's fibers are woven into the British culture in such a way that it is difficult to describe to a "non-Brit."  I came across this video a while ago and was so awed by the impact a drink can have on a country (Eastenders is a popular soap-opera type show in the UK; when it finishes, most viewers turn the kettle on for a cup of tea resulting in a huge surge for electricity)!

I put "proper" in quotation marks because this is my version of  a "proper" cup of tea.
What's the point of making something "properly" if you don't like it? In the UK they say to put one teabag per person and "one for the pot," but in my opinion that's too strong for most people in the US if you are using a British brand of tea, which is already much stronger and has a lot more flavor than most US tea brands.  I like Typhoo and PG Tips which are imported from the UK (I buy them on Amazon or Fresh & Easy). Two or three teabags for a 32 ounce pot, not completely filled to the rim (about 4 cups of tea) is perfect for my family, but if you decide to try this tea, experiment and see if you like it stronger and adjust accordingly.

Here's what you'll need (see above pic) and what to do:

First of all, you'll need BOILING water; hot water will not do. We want the tea leaves to infuse the flavor of the tea into the water, and tepid or hot water will not do this nearly as well as boiling water. I use an electric kettle because we make a lot of tea.

You will also need a good teapot, preferably a ceramic one made in the UK 
(they know their tea there).

I bought this little melamine trivet to keep my teapot warm when making tea so the granite countertop doesn't cool the pot off too quickly.

So, when the kettle is almost boiling, put some water in the pot, just to warm up the teapot, and return the kettle to it's base (or stovetop) to make it come to a full boil.
Swirl the hot water around the pot and then drain it out.
Make sure to have your teabags ready...

I'm using a PG Tips and a Typhoo teabag; something 
my daughter started doing, and we all liked it!

When the water comes to a rolling boil, put the teabags in the teapot and
immediately pour the water into the pot.

The teabags doing their job!

Now, if you have a tea cosy, cover the pot, if not, use a thick dish towel or something 
to keep the pot warm...this also makes a big difference in the outcome of the tea.

Let the tea steep for at least 5 minutes; the longer you leave it, the stronger it will be.
Now its time to pour...

Add milk, and/or sugar (I just add milk)

and enjoy with a biscuit or two...

Now for your Glaswegian (Glasgow dialect) Lesson:

Basically, "to blether" means to chat...a lot.

"A blether" is someone who talks incessantly...gee, I wonder why I have this mug? :)


  1. Kelly Burnham AndersonApril 2, 2012 at 2:15 PM

    Love this! I've been drinking hot tea with milk or cream for a while---went to a place in Tecumseh and tried the clotted cream---fell in love. Won't go back -cuz my waistline would suffer!!!! LOL But I'll give your brand a try---I usually shop at Trader Joe's, but I'm thinking some "Proper" Tea might be a good thing!!!

    Thanx Friend

  2. Oh good! So glad you'll give it a try, Kelly! Cost Plus has both brands (at least they do here in LA.) You probably want to stick with milk (whole, 1% or 2%) with this tea. Save the cream for the scones...something I will post later!

    Thanks for your comment, I appreciate it! CC

  3. I always make tea with hot water, but now it seems I need to visit some estate sales and find me a tea cozy! Yes, I also take my tea with milk - only herbal teas I drink with lemon, rather than milk:)

    1. Using boiling water will bring out more flavor in your herbal teas, too (unless there are some which specifically say not to use boiling water).

  4. Some good (PG) tips! I've been getting into South American yerba mate tea lately, and it is not supposed to come to a boil. Sometimes I get the water too hot and have to let it sit before pouring it into my teapot! Even though it has more caffeine than other tea, the high is much calmer.

    1. That's so funny, I just wrote to Lana that boiling water will make herbal tea taste better too, unless it specifically says not to use boiling water! I've never heard of yerba mate tea-will have to check into it. Thanks, Adair :)


Questions, comments? I'd love to hear from you!