My copper kettle whistles merrily
And signals that it is time for tea.
The fine china cups are filled with the brew.
There’s lemon and sugar and sweet cream, too.
But, best of all there’s friendship, between you and me.
As we lovingly share our afternoon tea.
~ Marianna Arolin
To make a quality pot of tea
Bring freshly-drawn water to a rolling boil.
Pour a little into a ceramic (earthenware) teapot to warm it, then empty it. By warming the pot, you are making it ready to steep the tea.
Use good quality tea. Put 2 tea bags in a pot that serves 6-8 cups.
Bring the water back to the boil and pour it on the bags immediately.
Cover the teapot with a tea-cozy (you can make one easily using two pieces of quilted fabric stitched in the shape of a dome to put over the top of your pot) and allow the tea to steep for five minutes - any shorter and the flavor will not have developed, any longer and the tannin will start to come out, which makes the tea taste stewed and bitter. For the same reason, boiling water should be used to make the tea but the tea should not be boiled again.
Most Brits like to put their milk in their teacups first (so that the boiling water will not crack the china), however in today's hearty mugs, that is not necessary.
On cold winter mornings, it's worth it to heat the mugs with a bit of boiling water before pouring the tea into them. Simply pour boiling water into the mugs to sit until the tea has steeped. Then pour the water out and add milk.
Finally, add tea and sugar, if you take it.