Why don’t British tea bags normally have strings attached to them?
- Because tea is the British National Drink - so they get to decide how it is served.
- It is not the American National Drink.
- Iced tea is not considered real tea in Britain.
- Putting precious tea in silly little packets is considered wasteful. The British would rather spend their money on tea.
- And attaching little dangly pieces of string to tea bags is considered not only wasteful but inconvenient as the strings fall in the pot and get wet.
- Tea is made in a tea pot in Britain, not microwaved for one minute in a large mug.
- Tea pots are made of basic brown earthenware, not fancy pink pottery with daisies and bunnies dancing all over them.
- Tea pots are always round with a well-fitting lid.
- Tea pots are never square, oblong, cylindrical or any other weird and wonderful shape, and the lids do not wiggle and giggle about when the tea is being poured.
- When the tea is ‘made’ it is always covered with a multi-colored, hand-knitted tea-cozy made by Granny who loves to knit.
- It is served in a plain white porcelain cup with a matching saucer, not in a 24 oz. florescent pink mug on a small plate with the tea bag dangling from the side and a large white plastic spoon beside it.
- Tea in Britain is served hot with milk, not lemon.
- Sugar is always added for people who are not sweet enough.
RECIPE FOR MAKING AN AUTHENTIC BRITISH CUP OF TEA:
- Boil the water in a singing kettle on the gas/electric stove. The kettle must sing loudly so that if you are busy making the beds upstairs you will know when the water is hot enough to make the tea.
- British secret: Always warm the pot. Pour a little boiling water into the pot, swill it round then empty it out in the sink. (This step is essential if you want to make real British tea).
- Place one tea bag per person into the pot. (Purists may use loose tea).
- Always remember to add one tea bag for the pot.
- Pour the boiling water onto the tea bags and fill the pot.
- Cover the tea pot with the tea-cozy. (Never miss this step because Granny will be watching).
- Wait three minutes until the tea is brewed. (Mashed if you are in Scotland or stewed if you are in Ireland). Set the timer for three minutes so that you can hear it go off when you are upstairs making the beds.
- Now you must decide if you are a MIF (milk in first) kind of person, or a MIL (milk in last) kind of person. This may take some contemplation.
- The general consensus is that the British are MIL people, almost without exception.
- Pour the tea into each person’s cup.
- Add the exact amount of milk into each cup. (Getting the exact amount of milk right is an art form, perfected over many decades, because everybody knows the exact colour they like their tea. Too little milk and you will get a frown. Too much milk and you will get clobbered because you can’t put the milk back in the bottle).
- Add sugar for those who are already deemed not sweet enough.
- A cup of tea is always served with one or two biscuits in the morning and evening, preferably Chocky Bickys (Chocolate Digestive Biscuits), on a small plate with one of Granny’s hand-crocheted doilies on it. (American savory flaky-pastry ‘biscuits’, although delicious with gravy on them in America, are not considered biscuits in Britain).
N.B. If you are invited to take tea with the Queen you will receive a telegram brought to your door by the Queen’s personal Footman. Be sure to wear your Sunday best, shine your shoes, and take flowers - preferably daisies. The Queen is particularly fond of daisies. She likes real daisies with long stems, not the sort that are found surrounded by dancing bunnies on oblong tea pots.
When meeting the Queen remember to curtsy if you are female or bow if you are male. Never speak until spoken to, and address the Queen as either Your Majesty or Mam.
Tea is always served at 4 pm on the dot in the Royal Drawing Room. Don’t show surprise when the milk is added to your cup first, (the Queen’s china is very delicate and priceless, so hot tea poured in first would undoubtedly ‘shock’ the cup into smithereens, and you don’t want to get the bill for a new tea set, do you?) Don’t comment on the colour. It may not be the exact colour you are used to, but the Queen decides on the colour of the tea. It is Her Palace. And She always knows best.
RULES OF BRITISH TEA DRINKING:
- Tea is served at least once an hour in Britain.
- When visiting somebody’s house they will immediately ask you if you’d like a nice cuppa tea even before you have got (not gotten) both feet in the door. Or they will simply smile and say, ’I’ll put the kettle on’.
- It is customary to say, ‘Oh, yes, please,’ smile broadly and rub your hands together. ‘A hot cuppa will go down very nicely, thank you’.
- A ‘No’ is unacceptable. It is taken as an insult in Britain.
- Water is never asked for, as it is in America, especially with ice as it is too cold in Britain for ice, and the super-markets are too small to stock 50 gallon ice chests and 25lbs. bags of ice cubes. An ice tray is sometimes found in the fridge, but it is usually filled with Granny’s home-made chicken stock and you don’t want that in your tea, do you?.
- You will be expected to drink two or three cups of tea before you leave.
- Never ask for another Chocky Bicky or you will get a dirty look.
- Tea is served before breakfast
- During breakfast
- After breakfast
- Before lunch
- During lunch
- After lunch
- In the afternoon at 4pm with Granny’s home-made scones, fresh Devonshire clotted cream and Granny’s home-made strawberry jam (not jelly).
- Before dinner
- During dinner
- After dinner
- And possibly another couple of cups before bed time.
- A furtive cup of two is acceptable if you need to go to the loo (not bathroom or restroom) during the night. Remember to flush quietly.
The British are born with very sturdy bladders.
Nobody in Britain has ever been concerned about drinking too much caffeine. They are always running up and down stairs with cups of tea so they need all the help they can get.