August 3, 2012

On Making Tea....

George Orwell, author of the famous novel 1984 gives his opinion on the perfect cup of tea:

First of all, one should use Indian or Ceylonese tea. China tea has virtues which are not to be despised nowadays — it is economical, and one can drink it without milk — but there is not much stimulation in it. One does not feel wiser, braver or more optimistic after drinking it. Anyone who has used that comforting phrase 'a nice cup of tea' invariably means Indian tea.

Secondly, tea should be made in small quantities — that is, in a teapot. Tea out of an urn is always tasteless, while army tea, made in a cauldron, tastes of grease and whitewash. The teapot should be made of china or earthenware. Silver or Britanniaware teapots produce inferior tea and enamel pots are worse; though curiously enough a pewter teapot (a rarity nowadays) is not so bad.

Thirdly, the pot should be warmed beforehand. This is better done by placing it on the hob than by the usual method of swilling it out with hot water.

Fourthly, the tea should be strong. For a pot holding a quart, if you are going to fill it nearly to the brim, six heaped teaspoons would be about right. In a time of rationing, this is not an idea that can be realized on every day of the week, but I maintain that one strong cup of tea is better than twenty weak ones. All true tea lovers not only like their tea strong, but like it a little stronger with each year that passes — a fact which is recognized in the extra ration issued to old-age pensioners.

Fifthly, the tea should be put straight into the pot. No strainers, muslin bags or other devices to imprison the tea. In some countries teapots are fitted with little dangling baskets under the spout to catch the stray leaves, which are supposed to be harmful. Actually one can swallow tea-leaves in considerable quantities without ill effect, and if the tea is not loose in the pot it never infuses properly.

Sixthly, one should take the teapot to the kettle and not the other way about. The water should be actually boiling at the moment of impact, which means that one should keep it on the flame while one pours. Some people add that one should only use water that has been freshly brought to the boil, but I have never noticed that it makes any difference.

Seventhly, after making the tea, one should stir it, or better, give the pot a good shake, afterwards allowing the leaves to settle.

Eighthly, one should drink out of a good breakfast cup — that is, the cylindrical type of cup, not the flat, shallow type. The breakfast cup holds more, and with the other kind one's tea is always half cold before one has well started on it.

Ninthly, one should pour the cream off the milk before using it for tea. Milk that is too creamy always gives tea a sickly taste.

Tenthly, one should pour tea into the cup first. This is one of the most controversial points of all; indeed in every family in Britain there are probably two schools of thought on the subject. The milk-first school can bring forward some fairly strong arguments, but I maintain that my own argument is unanswerable. This is that, 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.

Lastly, tea — unless one is drinking it in the Russian style — should be drunk without sugar. I know very well that I am in a minority here. But still, how can you call yourself a true tea lover if you destroy the flavour of your tea by putting sugar in it? It would be equally reasonable to put in pepper or salt. Tea is meant to be bitter, just as beer is meant to be bitter. If you sweeten it, you are no longer tasting the tea, you are merely tasting the sugar; you could make a very similar drink by dissolving sugar in plain hot water.

Have a lovely weekend and a few cups of tea too.


  1. Happy Friday Annie,
    Wow what a production to make the perfect cup of tea. I am not a hot drink drinker. I will occasionally have black ice tea the only one I like the flavored are just to sweet for me. I guess tea and coffee are a acquired taste. I like a non fat cappuchino every once in awhile and when it comes to coffee I can only drink the brand they have at the hospital which is from Sara Lee called Douwe Egberts it was once only sold commercially so if I drink coffee it is at the hospital only :) Hope you have a wonderful weekend. Hugs, Dru

  2. I guess just a tea bag in a cup is not good but that's what I do.

  3. What a production is right and just for a cup of tea, but then, as a coffee drinker I am fussy about making a good cup of coffee. I do like my "American" way of making a cup of Earl Grey tea by heating the water in a whistling tea kettle and then pouring the hot water in a large cup with the tea bag and covering the cup for 5 minutes while the tea darkens then adding a bit of honey and a drop of milk (not cream) and enjoy my tea. ;-} So I guess we all have our style of enjoying our hot tea and coffee. ;-}
    Loved reading your post Annie. Have a lovely weekend my friend. It's way too hot and humid here. Hugs

  4. haha Boy it is ever a production for making tea! I make my tea like Toni's comment above, however when I went to the tea room a month or two ago, the tea was made loose-tea in the silver tea pot (and very very hot) and you were to use the strainer over your cup to keep out the tea leaves. It was very good, I must say.

    Interesting post!

  5. Hi Annie! I'm a big tea drinker and I never use sugar or any sweetener... BUT I also don't add milk or cream... same with coffee. I always start with fresh water because I do think that standing or previously heated water can taste flat. I usually drink Yorkshire Gold Tea or Darjeeling. Don't like Earl Grey or any flavored teas other than tropical iced tea which was an acquired taste for me. didn't like it at first. I always think of Elizabeth when I speak of tea, She gave me many suggestions on teas to try. Have a nice rest of your Sunday and week ahead! (((Hugz)))

  6. Hi Annie;

    Better day today cooler & less humidity. Nice way to start a new week. Have a lovely day my friend. Hugs


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