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Pinkies Out: A Guide on How to Make British Tea the Right Way

July 28, 2021

For as long as I have been drinking tea, I have been told that the English made a superior cup of tea.

What most people failed to tell me, though, was why this is or how such a cuppa was made.

So, I started my own little investigation on how to make British tea. I discovered that there is a lot more to a “proper” brew than I imagined.

On this note, here is what I learned about making a traditional cup of English tea. 

How to Make English Tea

How to Make a Proper Cup of English Tea – A Side Note

The first thing I realized was that the term “proper” was rather subjective. There is a fair amount of variation in how people brew their teas.

The exact mechanism of making tea can differ between regions, social classes, and personal preferences.

Nonetheless, there are some common threads you can mimic if you wish to be as authentic as possible.

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How to Make a Proper Cup of English Tea

What You Will Need to Make a British Cup of Tea

Before you learn how to make tea the British way, you first have to know what ingredients are used.

The Tea

Most Brits will only drink black tea – this is true across all demographics. The most common kind of black tea consumed is English Breakfast, although Earl Grey is a close second.

There is also the matter of which brand of tea can be considered quintessentially English. Here, the votes appear to be split.

Twinings has currently captured the top spot. Nevertheless, cheaper brands such as PG Tips, Yorkshire, and Tetley are still holding steady.

It should also be noted that loose tea isn’t used as often. Most people turn to tea bags for convenience.

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Battle of the Brits: English Breakfast Tea vs. Earl Grey Tea

Water

Brits will use fresh water every time they want to brew a cuppa.

Unlike what tradition dictates, most English people boil the water for their tea. They will often take it off the heat when it just begins to boil.

Milk

They like to add a splash of fresh milk to their tea.

They don’t use cream, but rather rely on a lower-fat version.

For quite some time, there has been a debate on how to make English tea with milk.

Some believe that you should add the milk first, then water. Others always add milk after the water.

There isn’t a proper way to do it – rather the precise steps will depend on your personal taste.

Sugar

Most Brits would tell you that “milk and no sugar” is the most authentic way to drink a cuppa.

Once again, this isn’t a hard and fast rule. Many people add one or two sugars to their tea.

Thus, you are under no obligation to drink it unsweetened, if you don’t like the taste.

Social status does come into play with the whole sugar debate.

Typically, people in the higher echelons of society don’t add any sugar to their tea. On the other, the working class likes to make a sweeter cup of tea. 

How to Make English Tea

Now, let’s learn how to make a British cup of tea.

Ingredients

Per Serving

  • 1 teaspoon of tea leaves person or 1 tea bag each
  • 6 ounces of water
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) of milk or to taste
  • Sugar to taste
english breakfast tea

Step 1: Boil the Water

Heat the water until it begins to boil. Once you notice the bubbles beginning to appear, take the water off the heat.

Step 2: Steep the Tea

Place the teabag in the mug and pour the water in. If you are using loose tea leaves, place the leaves in a tea ball strainer or basket infuser and place in the mug.

For the best results, follow the instructions provided by each brand. Otherwise, leave the bag in for 2 to 3 minutes.

Step 3: Remove the Tea Bag or Leaves

Once the tea has steeped for a sufficient period, remove the tea bag or the leaves. To prevent any bitterness, avoid squeezing the bag against your spoon before tossing it away. 

Step 4: Add Milk and Sugar

You can add milk at this point. If you are adding sugar, now’s the time to do it. Once you have added your desired ingredients, stir well. 

Step 5: Drink Tea While Piping Hot

You shouldn’t let the tea cool down too much. Make sure to finish the drink before it gets too cold.

In the event that this does happen, don’t attempt to reheat the drink. Instead, start from scratch and brew yourself another cuppa. 

Now you know how to make a British cup of tea! So, what do you think? Have all your questions been answered? Or, do you have a different way of doing things? 

About the Author
Dr. Dheena Sadik
Dr. Dheena Sadik is a consultant Nutritionist and Dietician. She has over a decade of experience in the health and fitness industry.
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