How to make the perfect cup of English Tea

*Disclaimer: This post is mostly for expats working in a British office environment and those who are curious to see how such fascinating microcosms operate…*

Step One:

You need to have your own mug. It usually has to have a clever remark about your personality, something quite witty and an imperviousness to being dropped.*

Step Two: 

Rise from your desk, sink back down to your desk to take that 20 minute phone call that won’t wait, remember that certain dry feeling at the back of your throat, then take another step up. Weigh up the walk to the nearest coffeeshop (if so, carry out step three then skip to step ten).

A pinkie-raising Kensington Orangery Afternoon Tea

A pinkie-raising Kensington Orangery Afternoon Tea

Step Three: Essential

Ask each person in the office who wants a cuppa. Write down the 6 teas with varying milk, 3 with 2.3 sweeteners, 1 rebel person who takes coffee and can stand office-grade instant, 1 weird herbal tea and the foodie who drinks hot water with fresh mint or lemon slices, but will end up making their own. Ignore the weird hippy in the corner who doesn’t mainline caffeine. Mutter/laugh with your colleagues about crazy avant guarde Earl Grey lovers whilst simultaneously hiding your box in a desk drawer.

Step Four:

Search for your mug. You won’t find it, guaranteed, unless you hide it thoroughly – only for the cleaner to put it back into general circulation. Toss up whether risking the use of someone else’s mug is worth the danger points or it would simply be less hassle to use a glass and burn your fingers.

Step Five:

Rummage thorugh the cupboards, fridge and dishwasher for 4 teaspoons (see step Three). Add beverage powders/bags and varying levels of sweetners to the mugs.

Genuine tea guide that hung up in an old kitchen workplace of mine…

Step Six:

Go to boil the jug. Work out what your Kiwi workmate is calling a jug, and then switch on the Kettle once you’ve filled it up. If you’re being super fancy, ready the teapot. (The only, only case that boiling a saucepan is an acceptable alternative is if the kettle is broken, or you’re a guest in a good American friend’s house who is prepared for years of teasing. You know who you are #Kettlegate)

Step Six(a):

Warm the teapot by rinsing with water, and placing a knitted teacosy over the top. Add the requisite tea bags & leave to steep. If you use tea leaves you’ll have to wild it off guide at this point, oh, and stop working somewhere so poncy.

Step Seven: 

Lay mugs out in order of beverage, strength and sugar. Remember who has an individual mug & try not to get them all muddled up – war at 11am is pretty hard to deal with.

Teanamu, Nottinghill - National Afternoon Tea Week
Teanamu Chinese Afternoon Tea Ceremony

Step Eight:

Begin pouring the water, then realise that you’ve committed the heinous crime of adding milk first. Repour if you like them, leave it if you don’t. Let the builders tea lovers sit for ages, or add an extra teabag. Edit: Stir, the step I always forget. Essential

Step Nine: 

Get confused whether one colleague has sugar, and whilst enquiring, listen to the ‘oh no, I’m definitely sweet enough’ assurance. Every. Single. Time.

Step Ten: 

Tactically deliver beverages based on closeness to kitchen, and mug handle length ratios.

How to make the perfect cup of English Tea

Step Eleven:


Step Twelve:

Whilst munching on biscuits and raising your pinkie, come to the conclusion that if you do the above occasionally, a steaming hot beverage will be delivered to your desk throughout the day. If you don’t, you will be left out of the tea-circle of trust. 

Step Twelve:

Later realise that if you had made a bad enough cuppa the first time no-one will ever ask you again, they’ll just deliver you fresh brews to keep you out of the kitchen.

* Newbies and risk-takers don’t have their own mugs, preferring foolishly to the lottery of a general mug. 

** Writing this post I realised that the word ‘tea’ appears in nearly 400 blog posts. Heavens!

What is your beverage of preference?

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