For those who know me well, it’s no secret that I’m obsessed with English tea ceremonies. I love everything about it: the proper decorum of the ritual, the beautiful china and table setting, the lovely pastries and savories, and the good conversation that accompanies it.
Downton Abbey is one of my favorite shows of all times, not just for the above mentioned, but also because you can learn so much about life at that time in history, simply by watching the tea scenes.
For instance, the tea ritual was a time to connect with family and friends. Sometimes to gossip, sometimes to discuss serious events and politics, and sometimes for match-making purposes, to name a few. People made assumptions about your background based on the way you drank your tea. There was no better way to get to know someone on a deeper level than inviting them over for tea!
Growing up in Brazil, tea was a part of our lives. We enjoyed it after lunch and dinner, and sometimes even mid-morning! It was served in a special cup with a metal straw, a traditional drink of the gauchos in the region, passed down from generations. But we also enjoyed afternoon tea or coffee, especially if friends or family were gathering for the afternoon. The china cups came out, and the lovely snacks accompanied the beverages. It was a celebration on an ordinary day.
This is my beloved Brazilian tea - mate
Besides reading and learning about the art of making a proper cut of tea, I also make a habit of going to tea houses when travelling so I can experience this ritual as much as possible.
So based on my experience, I wanted to share with you how to make a proper cup of tea, from start to finish in your own kitchen. You can enjoy this ritual alone, or better yet, have an afternoon tea party with friends!
- Select your cup. I love to use the same, pretty cup to enjoy my tea. It’s a lovely, fine china cup that belonged to my husband’s family. I encourage you to find one that speaks to you, so the cup becomes a part of your ritual.
- Choose your tea. The tea can be loose leaf or in a bag, and either one is fine. Just be sure to choose a flavor that speaks to you. If you are not familiar with teas, pick some that sound enticing to you and try them out! My favorite tea of all time is Earl Grey.
- Boil the water. We are talking about stove tops here, not microwaves! Use a kettle or pot, and boil the water.
- Warm up the teapot. Once the water has boiled, place some of it in the teapot and move it around so it warms up the teapot. Once warm, dispose of that water, and add your tea to it.
- Steep your tea. Add water to the pot with the tea, and place the lid, so the tea can steep for about 4 minutes. This time varies depending on how strong you like your tea, but I wouldn’t wait too much longer because the tea can become bitter.
- Serve the tea. If you used loose leaf tea, place a tea strainer over your tea cup, and pour the tea. This is not necessary if you used a tea bag.
- Add ons. Next, add sugar if desired, then lemon or milk, but never both together. As an etiquette rule, a lady never pours tea into her milk.
- Stir. Move the spoon in a forward and backward motion to stir your tea, rather than counter or clockwise, to avoid spilling it over.
- Enjoy! Your tea is ready to be enjoyed! Smell the wonderful aroma and take a sip of this simple pleasure.
Enjoying a delicious lemongrass-ginger tea before bedtime
The steps here are very descriptive and it might seem that it’s time consuming, but I assure you it’s not! The longest time it will take is to wait for the water to boil. I use that time to look out the window and reflect, rather than reach for my phone or another distraction.
How do you make your tea? Are you new to the world of tea? Tell me about it!