How to make a blooming good cup of tea

My father loves to tell the story of how he fell in love with my mother over a cup of tea, precisely at the moment when he offered her sugar and she said “just one”. Growing up, I was reminded of my parents’ abiding affection for each other each time one made a cup of tea for the other. I learned how making a cup of tea for someone can be a wonderfully simple gesture of welcome, kindness, empathy, and even love. That’s why making a good cup of tea matters.

Here are my top tips for making three of the best brews:

Top-notch bog standard (black tea in a bag)

  1. Empty the kettle and refill it with fresh water

  2. Choose a big mug with plenty of swirl space

  3. When the kettle boils, fill and empty the mug to warm it

  4. Quickly pop the teabag in and pour over more hot water. (Don’t re-boil it. That flattens the flavour)

  5. Gently swirl the teabag about with a teaspoon, taking care not to squish it (this really makes a difference to the taste, trust me)

  6. When you just start to lose sight of the bottom of mug, remove the teabag – without squishing!

  7. Add a little milk if you must

Blooming gorgeous flowing tea (this one is a bit special)

  1. Pop a flowering tea ball into a glass teapot or cup and put it in front of your guests

  2. Empty and refill the kettle with fresh water

  3. Boil the kettle, open the lid and wait a couple of minutes

  4. Pour the water over the tea ball

  5. Sit back and watch the spectacle unfold!

Sweet and healthy (loose-leaf green tea)

  1. Choose a good quality loose-leaf green tea. Pop 2 – 4 teaspoons into a teapot with a strainer in the spout.

  2. Empty and refill the kettle with fresh water

  3. Heat the water to just 70˚C. Some kettles let you set the temperature. In the absence of a snazzy kettle, watch the water. It will be the right temperature when big bubbles form (called ‘shrimp eyes’ in the tea world), right before streams of slightly larger bubbles appear (‘crab eyes’). If that’s not an option, boil the kettle, open the lid and wait 7 minutes

  4. Pour the water over the tea, give it a good swirl and wait 3 minutes

  5. Have a taste and let it brew a little longer if needed

  6. When it tastes just right, pour into a cup and serve. Don’t let the leaves stew in the water. They’ll go bitter if left too long

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