Being a Brit I thought—out of the goodness of my heart—I ought to share some tips on how to make a Royally Splendid Proper Cup Of Tea so you can enjoy it while you watch the coronation of King Charles on May 6 (although, truthfully, there’s really no need for a coronation to justify a cup of tea).
Not only does a (proper) cup of tea do you good, but the making of a cup of tea does you good, too. Because it is a beautiful ceremony. Boiling the water. Adding the tea leaves. Warming the pot. Putting on the cozy. Waiting. Pouring. Drinking. Ceremonies are helpful. They help us slow down, linger, savour. Be right where we are.
So, without further ado (and with apologies to all my fellow Brits)…
HOW TO MAKE A PROPER CUP OF TEA
I am sorry to have to break this to you, but I haven’t encountered many good cups of tea this side of the pond. So… we are going to have a tea party! Although that doesn’t mean we are going to throw tea in the Boston Harbor.
By the way—who thought throwing tea away was a good idea? Oh yes. Americans. Moving on quickly.
I’ve collected everything you’ll need in my Amazon Store.
- Awesome water
- Tea pot (ideally a Brown Betty)
- Tea cozy
- Tea strainer (you’ll be using tea leaves not bags)
- Hot water (a kettle is helpful)
- Nice tea cup (or mug). Bone china is ideal.
- Highest quality leaf tea (most important). I suggest Harney and Sons or Yorkshire Gold (or if you’re in the UK, Fortnum & Mason or PG Tips!)
- Treat the water kindly: Boil it only once so the oxygen levels stays high (oxygen in water helps the flavor)
- Warm the pot: Tea likes hot water, and a chilly teapot cools it. So boil water and swill it around the empty pot, then discard. (They did this in the olden days because the old country houses in the UK were freezing. China teapots were so cold that if you added boiling water, they would crack.) But it still is a good idea to warm the pot—even if you live in a hot house.
- Add tea to the pot. For every cup, add one teaspoon of loose tea and one for the pot (or one teabag per cup plus one for the pot, if you’re using teabags, but leaf tea is best!)
- Add the water. Ideally just below boiling is best.
- Cover the teapot with the cozy to keep it warm
- Wait patiently: Steep for 4-5 mins (time it—if you steep too long, it’ll stew)
- Put strainer over the cup and pour
- Milk first or not? Up to you. (If it’s a lighter tea—you might want to just have lemon with it. But if it’s strong, then milk. At least that’s what I think.)
PRO TIP: Keeping boiling water handy—you can add hot water to the pot once you’ve poured your first cup and put the cozy back on and you’ll get a second cup.
INSIDER TIP: What you must never do
TEA SNACKS: An afternoon tea must include exceptional snacks. Here are some suggestions.
- Biscuits. NOTE: This is a very important fact. Biscuits in the UK are not scones; they are cookies. My favorites are Chocolate Digestives. But I also adore these Snickerdoodles — special with chocolate chips!
- Scones (here’s a mix, or if you’re fancy you can make your own with the best scone recipe from the great Mary Berry)
- Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter to spread on your piping hot scone
- Clotted Cream
- Jam. Strawberry is traditionally served, but I love raspberry (some even love lemon curd). Really any jam!
- Delicious sandwiches. Cucumber is traditional. If you’re being extra fancy, you cut off the crusts.
And what goes best with a proper cup of tea and your plate of snacks? Nothing is sweeter than a book. Don’t miss my Books Fit for Royalty —because is there a better activity than reading a book while enjoying your tea? I can’t think of one.
You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me. – C.S. Lewis
Cheers! Happy Coronation Day!