10 Golden Rules for Making the Perfect Cup of Tea (1941)

In 1941, England found itself in an all-out-war with Nazi Germany. It had sustained severe damage when the Nazis unleashed the Blitz on 16 English cities between September 1940 and May 1941. Despite the heavy toll, there was only one thing for most Brits to do – to keep calm and carry on and preserve small moments of normalcy when possible. Of course, that meant drinking tea and not just any tea, but good tea. Above we present Tea Making Tips, a short 1941 film created by the Empire Tea Bureau, that outlines the golden rules for making tea worthy of its name. The narrator reminds the viewers, “Tea is not a manufactured article which can be made, bottled up and served at will. It must be prepared every time it is acquired, and it’s success or failure depends entirely upon the attention you pay to the six golden rules.” If you watch the 10-minute film, you’ll actually count 10 rules (if not more), many of which are still presumably relevant to a tea drinker today. They are as follows:

1) In general, store tea leaves in an airtight container, preferably away from cheese, soap, spices and other items with strong aromas.

2) Also keep the tea off of the ground and away from walls.

3) Always use a good quality tea. You’ll spend a little more money, but you’ll actually get more bang for your pound.

4) Use fresh water. Stale water makes stale tea, which no one needs, especially in wartime.

5) Make sure you warm your teapot before adding hot water and tea leaves.

6) Use the right ratio of tea leaves to water.

7) Steep the tea in water that’s neither under-boiled nor over-boiled.

8) Let the tea infuse for the right amount of time. 3-5 minutes should cover most kinds of tea. Other kinds will need more time.

9) Use tea pots made of china, earthenware, and stainless steel. Avoid ones made of enamel or tin.

10)  Don’t add milk to the tea too soon. Wait for the last possible minute.

Related Content:

The History of Coffee and How It Transformed Our World

“The Vertue of the COFFEE Drink”: London’s First Cafe Creates Ad for Coffee in the 1650s

Epic Tea Time with Alan Rickman

This is Coffee!: A 1961 Tribute to Our Favorite Stimulant



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  1. Rachel Mills says . . . | May 4, 2013 / 1:23 am

    England declared war in 1939, not in 1941.

  2. James Leon Mahan says . . . | May 4, 2013 / 9:05 am

    I prefer a 4 minute infusion.

  3. James Leon Mahan says . . . | May 4, 2013 / 9:17 am

    Also, by warming the china or earthen tea pot you prevent it from cracking. Never boiling water in a glass picture.

  4. Noel Brown says . . . | May 5, 2013 / 3:00 am

    Splendid film, old boy. No sugar, and a small amount of milk in mine. Thanks.

  5. Tom says . . . | May 6, 2013 / 5:18 am

    When do you add the ice?

  6. Chris says . . . | May 10, 2013 / 8:13 am

    You add ice when you can chip it from the icicles that have formed in hell.

  7. Chris Enge says . . . | May 15, 2013 / 8:30 am

    That’s a great find! Great information, and I like the music as well.

  8. Peggy Briggs says . . . | May 20, 2013 / 9:42 am

    Fabulous find! I can only echo Sidney Smith (1771-1845),as posted in my tea garden, “I’m glad I was not born before tea.”

  9. Ramona McDaris says . . . | June 4, 2013 / 10:20 pm

    Hot tea (or other hot liquid) CAN safely be put into a glass container if you first put a stainless steel table knife into the glass. Apparently the metal immediately takes up heat and prevents glass breakage. My mother taught me this and it has always worked for me.

  10. vw says . . . | September 21, 2013 / 2:41 pm

    May I add “Liquid Jade” as a reference? nhttp://www.amazon.com/Liquid-Jade-Story-East-West/dp/0312333293

  11. Homework Help says . . . | September 25, 2013 / 6:36 am

    A brilliant find, thanks for sharing.

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