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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