The British are noted throughout the world for being a nation of impassioned tea drinkers, understandable considering that they drink over 165 million cups of 'char' every single day. Ironically, the practice is relatively new in the country, after being popularised as late as the mid-1600s by King Charles II's wife, Portuguese tea-addict Queen Catherine of Braganza. Legend has it tea was first discovered in 2737 BC by Chinese Emperor Shen Nung, when some Camellia sinensis leaves blew into the water his servant was boiling. Today, tea sipping is a global phenomenon - and one taken incredibly seriously. Mr George Orwell, author of Nineteen Eighty-Four, went to the trouble of writing an entire newspaper article in 1946 on the eleven rules (four of which he called 'acutely controversial') to making a cup. Like anything worth doing, it's worth doing well - and the perfect cuppa is no exception.
some common mistakes...
FINDING THE BALANCE
Placing too little or too much tea in a pot will give either a 'cup of no taste' or a 'cup too bitter'. One bag per person is generally more than adequate
GETTING A MOUTHFUL
Loose teas require a strainer: not using one for pouring certain teas, such as green teas, will result in a real mouthful. Whilst the leaves are not harmful to your health, they are not exactly pleasant either
SHAKEN NOT STIRRED
Do not stir the leaves inside the pot. Instead shake the pot gently about halfway through brewing to encourage them to move around and release their flavour
NO WHITES REQUIRED
Whilst there is a school of thought that suggests milk should be added to the cup before the tea is poured to stop the milk proteins breaking down too quickly, this is generally not accepted etiquette