While the sun never set on the British Empire, it also never set on a proper cup of tea. Somewhere in the 1600s this simple beverage arrived from the east and took that island nation by storm. This popularity was helped by the East India Trading Company and its hold on trade coming from India, China, and more. Advance ourselves forward a couple centuries and tea is as prevalent in the UK, but has lost out to coffee in many of the former colonies.
This leads me to the point of writing this. The inability for most Americans to brew a proper cup of tea. Let's not get hung up on whether you put milk and or sugar in it, I am talking about the tea itself.
So, here is my rant on/are some guidelines for a proper cup of tea…
Tea is black or green tea derived from cured leaves of the the Camellia Sinensis shrub/tree. All those others things are technically not tea. I am not some purist that will scold you for calling it tea, but if you offer me tea and serve me that swill I will think you a fool.
Orange Pekoe is not a kind of tea, it is a method of grading black tea. It is a medium grade also described as Broken Orange Pekoe (BOP) that uses the smaller middle size tea leaves. The "bud" or highest grade would be Flowery Orange Pekoe or Flowery Broken Orange Pekoe. The other bigger leaves up the stem are used for different teas like souchong.
Making the tea:
- Fresh water boiled to a rolling boil - this means there are bubbles and all that.
- Good tea - see above. A good black tea or Earl Grey are my go to teas. Loose tea is not necessary, but it will be a more flavorful brew. Lipton is only good for iced tea. PG Tips is a good economical tea with decent flavor. A true fanatic may scoff at the use of bagged tea, but I am a realist.
- Warm the cup or pot you will be brewing in - This is so your water does not lose its heat.
- Place the tea or tea bag in your cup. There are many different holders for loose tea, but if properly brewed, loose tea will sink to the bottom.
- Pour the hot water directly on the tea/teabag - Loose tea you can leave in, but I would remove bagged as it can get bitter (give at least 3-5 minutes).
- At this point you can add any bit of milk or sugar you desire and make it a builder's, but in my opinion a good tea straight is how to go.
There is something wonderful about a crisp morning and a cuppa with the steam coming off to start your workday.
For a proper British rant on tea and its preparation here is a little ditty from George Orwell.