Sanuk How To's: Make a Proper Cup of Tea

Orwell+tea_300714 Illustration by Micol Montesanti

Know this, know that. In the quest for knowledge, the youth of today knows many, many things. Many complex, intricate, puzzling things. The youth of today is probably around 29. Not youthful, but youth nevertheless. Adult in body perhaps, yet juvenile in mind and spirit. Judging by his beard and his carefully careless tatts and her blow up doll selfie face and probably her carefully careless tatts too, the youth is self-aware. So self-aware.

But is he or she aware of how to make a proper cuppa? Both he and she really rather should be.

Knowing how to make a proper cup of tea will not only vastly improve the general standard of your beverage intake, it’s also vital for anyone wishing to get ahead in any facet of life in the northern European archipelago known as Great Britain. Yet even many among her population, sadly, many described above seem lost by the wayside. The old ways are being eroded, forgotten, they say.

Well not on my fucking watch.

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1. Warm the teapot first. Do this by pouring a little boiling water in the teapot. Swirl, then discard.

2. Add a spoon of leaves (or teabag); one for each person, one for the pot. George Orwell recommended using only Indian or Sri Lankan tea, rather than Chinese, but that was probably more to do with Opium War hang ups rather than taste. Leaf tea gives more taste and is more eco-friendly, but is a bit more ball ache. Your call, sunshine.

3. Bring the kettle back to the boil again, add the boiling water immediately and stir. Tea needs to be made with boiling, not boiled water, which is why a Continental method of serving a cup of sort of hot water in one hand with a pitiful miscellany of tea bags, sugar, etc on a tray is an affront to civility. Totally and utterly unacceptable.

4. Put a tea cosy on the pot and leave to steep for a few minutes. Ideally, a multi-coloured, knitted cosy. Steep is the correct tea-specific verb for ‘infuse’. Northerners from Lancashire may say ‘mash’. ‘Brew’ is used universally. ‘Stew’ is also used, and tea steeped too long can be described at ‘stewed’. The correct term is steep, although knowing this, much less pointing this out will not make your tea taste better. It’ll make you look pedantic and middle classed, and a cunt. It is just something to know.

5. IMPORTANT: If made in a pot, pour tea into (fresh) milk, NEVER milk into tea. Pouring cold milk into a boiling cup of tea denaturates the proteins in milk, making it taste off, like UHT milk. For the same reason, if making it in the cup with a bag, milk in LAST. Never boiling water from kettle into milk with a tea bag in. Milk into brewed, bag-removed tea.

6. Continental cousins, if you can only find UHT and can’t find chilled, fresh milk in your local shop, consider invoking the European Court of Human Rights.

7. Sugar? Really??? It’s 2014. Isn’t it about time you grew up and faced reality? The fragile beauty of our once green and blue planet teeters on the brink. And all you can do is spoon sugar into your tea with that stupid look on your face. You make me sick.

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