How to Make a Good Cup of Tea: Orwell, Me and The Empire Tea Bureau

“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.” George Orwell

Orwell is right.The type of cup does count. Mugs – “the cylindrical type” – work because they hold the heat better.  So that’s the first order of the day:

  • Use a good mug
  • Use fresh filtered water. (My choice: Brita 18 cup Ultramax.)
  • Use fresh quality tea. (I LOVE Mighty Leaf. Get a green tea sampler. Wonderful. Recommended … and you have little time to fuss with loose tea or matcha, Mighty Leaf’s tea bags will still provide you an excellent experience.)
  • Once you’ve heated the water, heat your mug or teapot by swishing it with some of the hot water before you brew your tea), only then drop in your tea bag and pour in the water.
  • Watch the water temperature and brew time.  Different teas require different temperatures and brew times. (There’s no one-size-fits-all when making a proper cup.)
  • Do not use boiling water (100C or 212F) for green tea. It destroys the nutrients. Use an instant read thermometer and heat to 80C or 180F.
  • Steep green tea no longer than 2-3 minutes to avoid bitterness.

I Binge on Poetry Mug

A friend sent this video. Vintage 1941.  It’s a kick-and-a-half, though except for the one-size-fits all suggestions regarding water temperature and steeping time, the six tips are pretty much spot on. Enjoy!


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