Sunday 10 April 2011

Gathered by Virgins - part 2.

The ritual of tea drinking, plus how to brew the perfect cupper.

 Continuing on from my midweek post about the unusual side of tea drinking, let us know consider the English ritual of tea drinking.

By the 1880’s tea drinking became an upper class ritual. Ladies gathering around a silver tea pot with elegant porcelain cups became symbols of good taste and refinement and the preparation of tea was an art in itself. A popular household manual from the 1880’s ‘Enquire With Upon Everything’ instructs on how to make the perfect brew.

-         Use freshly boiled water, not exhausted by prolonged boiling
-         Scald the pot with hot water then empty it
-         Add sufficient water and then add the tea, quickly closing the lid
-         Let the brew stand for three and a half minutes
-         This greatly superior method preserves the delicate aroma of the tea.

A regency tea party.

Other help words on making tea include:

-         A given quantity of tea imparts strength to the water; any additional quantity is a waste.
-         Two small teaspoons of good black tea are sufficient for three cupfuls.
-         The best tea is made with the best water; too hard or soft will yield quantities of black tannin.
-         Dr Kitchiner recommends all water pouring in one drawing, a second drawing is bad. Better to have two teapots than two drawings.

All this takes me back to my grandmother and her insistance on the correct manner of making tea. I understand a bit better now where she was coming from and almost feel guilty about dunking a lonely tea bag in a mug of hot water. How about you? Does your family have rituals attached to making tea? Indeed, do you drink tea at all or has coffee drinking taken over?


  1. Love your post, Grace! I'm a tea fanatic! I'd rather have a good cup (or mug) of tea than a glass of wine or bottle of beer, or anything else. I drink English Breakfast in the morning, green tea throughout the day at work (sometimes the flavored ones), and regular old Lipton at night. (I must have an iron stomach, it rarely keeps me awake.)

    Most of the time I just make a mug at a time (using boiling water, NOT microwaved!), but on weekends, I take the best (strongest) brand I have on hand and brew a pot.

    This past Christmas my older son gave a tin of tea from the UK, the same brand that spurred the Boston Tea Party. It was the best I've ever had. (I have to admit, those Brits know how to make good tea!) :-)

  2. I'm a noob when it comes to tea, having only recently learned to appreciate it. I prefer white or green tea. That's saying a lot, cause I'm a lifelong coffee addict.

    Ready for stupid question number one? Do you mean you make twice the amount of water you need, fill the pot, empty it and then fill it again?

  3. Gosh Leah you must be immune to caffeine - I have to ration my cups of tea but I reckon that's why I drink so much of it at work, the stimulatory effect!

    Julie, that's not a stupid question at all. You just add a couple of inches of hot water to the bottom of the tea pot, wait a short time and tip it out. The idea is to warm the pot up with this first flush, rather than lose the heat from your brew to quickly....(technical stuff eh?)
    Love, Grace x

  4. Grace,

    The first cat picture looks that the twin of our older cat, a big yellow tom. I have pictures of him on my web page. Since I'm in the south the beverage of choice is tea. Unfortunately, everyone here drinks it iced with lots of sugar. I like mine hot with a touch of sugar. Glad to know I make it properly.(grinning)

  5. Mmmm, I love my tea. I love Earl Grey, but a health test told me to stick to green tea. I always had to force myself to drink it for not liking it much, but about a year ago I picked up a box of Royal King Organic at an Asian market and I love the stuff! It tastes much better than anything I get at the grocery or health food stores. I actually want it.

    As for caffeine, I cannot drink coffee- I get the shakes. Decaf will keep me from sleeping! But a good cup of the green does not have that effect on me.

    Thanks for your article!

  6. Allison, glad to meet a fellow cat lover. I must say I cant drink tea with sugar in it, it makes me feel sick, just too sweet for my palate (which is strange because I love chocolate!)
    Debbie, I like green tea - apparently its naturally caffeine free. I'm with you on getting the shakes with coffee, the trouble is I cant function in the morning without a coffee to get me going...then tea at work.
    Thanks for the comments everyone, lovely to chat to you.
    Grace x


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