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The perfect cup of tea around the globe

By: Angela Nelson on Feb. 1, 2017, 7:32 a.m.
Tea and scones in the U.K.

Photo: Jeremy Keith [CC BY 2.0]/Wikimedia Commons

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United Kingdom

The British are another band of serious tea drinkers who down about 4.3 pounds of tea a year. Having tea at 4 p.m. each day is an English ritual originated by Anna Russell, Seventh Duchess of Bedford, in the mid 1800s, who needed a snack to bridge the long gap between lunch and an ever-later dinnertime. (Preach.)

By now, Brits have the perfect cup of tea down to a science, and according to the British Standards Institution (BSI), there's only one way to do it. The British Tea Producers’ Association, Tea Trade Committee and Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food all contributed to create the standards (officially known as BS 6008), which were developed in 1980.

How to make a proper cup: You'll need a porcelain pot with 2 grams of loose black tea leaves for every 100 milliliters of water, which should not be hotter than 185 degrees F. Steep the tea in the pot with the boiling water for six minutes.

In your empty mug or teacup (call it a cup no matter what you use), add about a teaspoon of milk. The act of adding milk before or after the tea is hotly debated, however, and author George Orwell was an outspoken critic of the milk-first practice: "The milk-first school can bring forward some fairly strong arguments, but I maintain that my own argument is unanswerable. This is that, by putting the tea in first and stirring as one pours, one can exactly regulate the amount of milk whereas one is liable to put in too much milk if one does it the other way round."

One person should pour all the cups — using a tea strainer to catch any leaves — and hand them out as they are poured. Serve the tea with scones, jam and cream, or cucumber sandwiches with the crusts cut off.