How to Make a Perfect Cup of British Tea

How to Make a Perfect Cup of British Tea

Like coffee in the United States, tea in Britain is a staple in nearly every household. According to the United Kingdom Tea Council, the British drink 165 million cups of tea per day or 60.2 billion cups of tea per year. Although most of these people will drink a cuppa (tea) out of habit or because it just tastes good, many British, as well as other cultures around the world, are drinking tea for its health benefits. 

The latest research suggests several associations between tea consumption and good health. In fact, the UK Tea Council recommends drinking four cups of tea per day in order experience the full benefits of tea. In just four cups a day, tea taken with milk can provide:

  •  17% of the recommended intake for calcium
  • 5% for zinc, 22% for Vitamin B2,
  • 5% for folic acid
  • Vitamins B1 and B6
  • Manganese, which is essential for general physical development
  • Potassium which helps to maintain your body’s fluid balance
A Perfect Cuppa

A Perfect Cuppa

And, not only does tea provide nutritional value, but studies from around the world are finding that tea consumption may help towards maintaining a healthy heart, while other studies suggest tea can help you recover more quickly from the everyday stresses of life. Furthermore, for those tea-lovers who are counting calories, tea without milk has zero calories, and only 13 calories if you add a splash of skim milk. Tea – the nutrition-packed, low-calorie, heart healthy beverage that comes in numerous flavor combinations – what more could you ask for?

Since I first traveled to the UK over 10 years ago, I have been drinking tea on a regular basis. I not only enjoy the simple and refreshing taste of tea, but I also find the act of tea drinking to be very sophisticated. But, even in all my years of drinking tea, I have wondered, How exactly do the British make their tea? and What do they put in it? If you ask 100 different Britons these questions, you are guaranteed to get 100 different answers. One thing they do agree on is this – whether it’s black, white, green, with cream or sugar, the art of making tea is to be taken seriously. 

Although many British follow the age-old George Orwell method of brewing tea…

A Nice Cup of Tea, the English Standard, 1946 by George Orwell

  • Use tea from India or Ceylon (Sri Lanka), not China
  • Use a teapot, preferably ceramic
  • Warm the pot over direct heat
  • Tea should be strong – six spoons of leaves per 1 litre
  • Let the leaves move around the pot – no bags or strainers
  • Take the pot to the boiling kettle
  • Stir or shake the pot
  • Drink out of a tall, mug-shaped tea cup
  • Don’t add creamy milk
  • Add milk to the tea, not vice versa
  • No sugar!
…new research from the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) shows that Orwell’s method of tea brewing does not live up to the hype. The biggest difference has to do with milk – Orwell claims it is best to add milk to the tea, while the RSC suggests tea perfection is found when the milk is added first. Having been raised on the Orwell method of tea making for decades, many British citizens are up-in-arms about the new method of taking tea with milk. But, for an American girl, I tend to favor the RSC recipe for tea: 

The Royal Society of Chemistry’s definitive recipe for the perfect cup of tea

  • Ingredients – Loose leaf Assam tea, soft water, fresh chilled milk, white sugar.
  • Implements – Kettle, ceramic teapot, large ceramic mug, fine mesh tea strainer, tea spoon, microwave oven.
  • Method – 
    • Draw fresh soft water and place in the kettle and boil. While waiting for the water to boil place a tea ot containing a quarter of a cup of water in a microwave oven on full power for one minute.
    • Place one rounded teaspoon of tea per cup into pot.
    • Take the pot to the kettle as it is boiling, pour on to the leaves and stir.
    • Leave to brew for three minutes.
    • The ideal receptacle is a ceramic mug.
    • Pour milk into the cup first followed by the tea, aiming to achieve a colour that is rich and attractive.
    • Add sugar to taste.
    If you’re a tea lover, try both both recipes for making the perfect cuppa and let me know which one is perfect for you!


  1. The Harney & Sons Paris tea is my absolute favorite, too. Plus, the empty tin makes for an adorable pen cup after all of the sachets have been used up…

    Though I have to say–and perhaps it’s just the London-lover in me, but a bone china teacup is my receptacle of choice–always! All the better if it’s dainty and dotted with flowers 🙂

    • I know! I feel the same way about the tins. I have probably six empty ones just sitting around. I’m trying to find a way to display them without looking like I tried too hard!

  2. I am back reading, and saw this. I lived in England for just over 2 years, and had plenty of tea while I was there. There is nothing like perfectly brewed tea with a fresh from the oven scone. Nothing. Thank God I finally perfected both!

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