If you've been reading the blog for a while, you'll know I'm quite fond of a cup of tea, and Morning or Afternoon tea parties in general, and love nothing more than the ritual of making and drinking a cup of tea at home. It's a bit of a mental decompress for me during the day, in the same way a coffee is for many others.


Most people don't know that Tea is actually a fragrance, rather than a taste. I once watched a BBC program in which they found people with heightened senses in all different areas who were experts in their fields - so the sense of smell and taste was for the wine taster and smell for the perfumer (Nose), taste was for the tea taster (professional job at Twinings) and Chocolate tester and after that I have forgotten what the other people were there for (or the name of the program - sorry to be so vague). The idea was that they analysed their taste buds and ability to smell scientifically to show what it was that made them good at their job - did they have more taste buds etc than a normal person.


The surprising part of it was that they found the tea taster had a normal number of taste buds (others such as the wine taster had an actual increase in taste bud numbers), but had an extraordinary sense of smell to match the Perfumer. They then analysed tea and said that it was in fact a scent, rather than a taste. But your brain is tricked into thinking it is a taste.

my tea table

For me, this suddenly all made sense. Whenever I have a head cold, I don't remotely feel like a cup of tea. When I do have one it is not at all satisfying. This is no doubt because I don't smell anything, therefore it's just a cup of hot water.


 via Lady Sarah in London's blog in which she has a section on places to have Afternoon Tea in London

Now to the question of milk. If you want proper tea, you drink it black and without milk, and this was the way it was always drunk in Asia (where tea was first drunk), and initially how it was drunk in the West when it reached England and France. However, the English added milk in at some point in the 18th Century, and of course elevated the whole thing to performance art with an etiquette associated with it. In this way they are not dissimilar to the Asians - the Tea Ceremony the Japanese have always associated with the ritual drinking of tea, and which comes with specific utensils, ways of pouring, presentation of certain foods (tiny cakes etc) to eat with it.

family for afternoon tea on a Sunday

The English invented their own version of taking tea too, and the etiquette associated with it. So the tricky question now is how to put in the milk. I am going to state right now that I don't personally care how you take your tea at home. I don't actually add milk to mine so it's a moot point at any rate. But if you wish to follow correct etiquette and tea making it is milk in last, not first. This is for a few reasons. From a taste perspective if you add milk in first you can't judge the strength of the tea poured from the pot and therefore may have added too much milk initially.



From an etiquette point of view it is thought that the milk- in- first came from the aspiring and rising middle classes in England, who acquired the new technology bone china tea cups and wished to protect them from the hot tea as they worried they'd shatter them (porcelain, and how to make it was a secret the Chinese controlled for a long time. Porcelain is fired at much higher temperatures, and is much stronger). So they'd put in milk first so that it would mix with the hot water from the teapot and protect the cup. Of course this meant that it became a symbol of affluence (and therefore a Class distinction) to put your milk in later, as you could either afford to break a tea cup, or you had the much more expensive porcelain to start with.


These days the whole thing is wrong from a point of view of shattering a teacup - the water should have already been sitting for 5 minutes in a tea pot brewing, so is no longer at boiling point, and the modern manufacture of China means you will definitely not shatter a tea cup from pouring boiling water in it straight from the kettle at any rate (given that most are now dishwasher safe, and experience far higher temperatures in a dishwasher).


So it irks me enormously to have read several times people categorically stating that the milk goes in first. If you want to drink your tea that way, it's fine… but it's not correct from an etiquette or tea drinking perspective, so stating it as fact is what irritates me. I read this from a former Editor of Australian Vogue Living who wrote in an editorial that his grandmother was insistent on milk in first (the implication being it was the correct form), and more recently in the book "Stuart Rattle's Musk Farm" (photo above with my cup of tea) in which Paul Bangay reminisced on Rattle's liking of the ritual of tea, and the fact that milk was always to go in first.

In recent years, coffee has been elevated to an art form (see Naomi's very funny blog post here on the Barista with attitude), and tea drinking has taken a back seat. So much so that my pet hate is walking into a Cafe and finding a gleaming and enormous coffee machine with a Barista with attitude manning it, and after I order a cup of tea being given a thick coffee cup with hot water and a tea bag in it and being charged $4.50.

Darjeeling tea leaves via

This is annoying for so many reasons. One is that tea should always be served in a tea cup. It has a wider surface area, and narrows at the base so that the fragrance is dispersed more easily and so that the water temperature can cool sufficiently. As I drink my tea black, I usually have to wait for it to cool to a temperature that I can drink as the lack of milk doesn't add a cooling element. Secondly being give hot, rather than boiling, water ruins tea. It should always be boiled first. Coffee machines do not produce boiling water as boiling water ruins coffee (it should be made with 96C water), so the temperature is never hot enough to bring out the proper fragrance of tea. Thirdly, the tea bag. I drink tea from tea bags at home, but if you're going to bang on about your special blend of coffee beans harvested by Vestal Virgins under a full moon, "house roasted" and then grind them separately for each cup of coffee you produce, then you can put some tea leaves in a small tea pot and give me a proper cup of tea for the excessive amount of money you just charged me instead of handing me a tea bag with tepid water I have to combine myself.


So these are the my components to make the best cup of tea, after this you can make it as complicated or simple as you like and you won't go wrong in my book:

  • Use real tea leaves. These will be actual shrivelled up little leaves, rather than looking like powdered dust (which is the cheapest grade left for tea bags). If using bags, the nicer upmarket ones that have actual tea leaves inside them are a good option (but I do drink Twinings at home - I would be bankrupt from the amount of tea I drink if I insisted on gourmet tea bags, and sometimes doing a whole pot-full is too much pfaffing). I like T2 in Australia for their enormous variety of tea selections. Darjeeling is generally regarded as the King of Tea. English Breakfast is the most popular and a safe bet. 
  • Use boiling water from a kettle. Zip taps in an office or Coffee machines do not produce hot enough water.
  • Use a tea cup. You want surface area, much like a wine glass, to disperse the scent.
  • Put the milk in (if you take it) last. Once tea is poured you can better judge the strength of the tea by the colour.
  • Lump sugar is aesthetically nicer in a sugar bowl than fine white powder. I like La Perruche (warning: link has jazz music if you're in the office) which I buy in my supermarket.

real tea leaves in tea bags via

Some aspects of the tea drinking etiquette I tend to ignore when hosting people for morning or afternoon tea - I personally prefer to hand around the milk jug and sugar bowl so that people can help themselves. Some people like a dash of milk, others half the jug full and I think it's actually nicer for people to be able to make it the way they like, rather than how the host judges it, but this is not technically correct etiquette, and I do know that!

gratuitous cake photo of my kitchen

There are rituals around tea and coffee drinking for a reason - it affords a relaxing break during the day. I know when I worked in a fairly intense office environment for 10-12 hours a day, I viewed it as a mental decompress, in much the same way a pre-dinner "sharpener" (a Gin and Tonic, glass of bubbles etc) does at the end of the day.

Are you a coffee or tea person? And how do you take yours?


57 comments:

  1. I love your blog Adelaide Villa but have not commented before. I always understood the milk in first was because if you add milk that might be 'on the turn' to hot tea it would curdle but adding the tea to the milk would cool the tea so the milk wouldn't curdle. I've always added it last and totally agree - tea tastes best in a china cup. I have been worrying about your dads beautiful garden and the Adelaide fires - hope that as you haven't said otherwise that his property is okay. Heartbreaking pictures and my thoughts go out to those who've lost property and animals. LJD Melbourne

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    1. That's interesting about the curdling of the milk LJD - I haven't heard that one before regarding why to put milk in first! But having had the ill effects from consuming turned milk, I'd say best to err on caution and if it's a bit on the edge to curdle in the cup if done the other way chuck it out!
      Thank you for your concern with my Dad's home and garden - so far the fires are still away from his area, but as you'd have seen from the News they are still blazing ferociously North of him. So very sad to see all the injured wildlife and stock, and the Kennels that went up with so many people's pets inside was just heartbreaking. It's a very hot day again today, and last night was very windy, so it wasn't good from the perspective of trying to get it under control.

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  2. I prefer tea with honey and like the whole ceremony around afternoon tea in the Englsih tradition that Lady Sarah reported on from several London hotels. In Chicago our grande dame Drake Hotel does a wonderful tea and Russian Tea Time behind Orchestra Hall and 1/2 block from Art Institute is wonderful but it's always jam packed.

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    1. What's Russian Tea GSL? I've not heard of it before, but here as we are so English in heritage, High Tea or Afternoon Tea in hotels and tea rooms is quite the traditional production, just as Lady Sarah reported on in London.

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    2. It's really a High Tea format only with Russky nibbles and setting, a little Tchaikovsky piped in,.and a few aspiring Oligarch playthings on staff.

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    3. Ha! Sounds very exotic indeed!!

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  3. Agree with you on the "irritations" and had a good chuckle when I read about the Vestal Virgins. Love how informative your posts are.
    Praying your dad, our relatives & Adelaide and the hills will be ok. Adore all the firefighters and emergency rescue people. Truly grateful for their work.
    Down to one coffee a day - sometimes two. Den xxx

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    1. You're very disciplined Den! Coffee can be a crutch, but then again tea can be just as bad I feel, I probably drink too much.
      Thanks for your thoughts on the fires - the CFS are doing such a great job. If only it would cool down! Amazing to think how much things have changed with modern technology and general fire knowledge to have helped prevent an inferno like Ash Wednesday which claimed so many lives.

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  4. I'm a tea drinker. My day starts with a chai tea and ends with a green tea. In between I will have either English Breakfast or something else that I feel like. Problems of the day can also be solved by putting the kettle on and stepping back to have a cup of tea and some thinking time. I also get irritated a the price of a bit of water and a tea bag that you have to put in yourself when the barista has gone to a lot of trouble with making a coffee and quite possibly put some sort of design in chocolate on the top of the coffee. I now only go to places that actually take the time to put tea in a teapot, even if they use a bag though it irritates me slightly, I appreciate that they have taken the time to fill a teapot and shock horror put the tea in the water.

    Glad to hear that your fathers property is safe.

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    1. How could I have forgotten the special design in chocolate on the top of the coffee froth??! Agree with you about the frequenting of places that make a proper pot of tea, I prefer to have nothing rather than the exorbitantly priced DIY teabag offerings of the majority of cafes!
      You sound like quite the tea connoisseur Louise with your chai and green tea bookending the English Breakfast routine. Thanks for your thoughts re Dad too.

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  5. Lovely post which explains things rather than claim someone famous or posh did it this way so that's that! I am a tea and coffee drinker. My ideal brew ( western style ) is a strong brew that has full fat milk and one sugar ( cut back two years ago from two ) In Asia, they had a kettle which Bosch finally started making in the west with different water temperatures. I got it and works very well. I use the lower temps for green tea and herbal teas. It has four gauges. I actually don't think it is right that people make your tea unless we are at an institution bc making tea can be tasking and don't know the science but when someone else makes it - just never really tastes the same. My husband has his tea where he dunks the bag 8 times. So it really can be so exacting. It's odd bc while I drink oolong or jasmine at dim sum with no milk for some reason when it comes to a cuppa I just need my milk. doesn't make sense but tastes rarely do. I love the complicated japanese tea ceremony and even though it is more complicated they never have that barista attitude. I can't believe in this country where people drank tea that no one is coming up with a starbucks for tea though! PS do you drink tea always from a tea cup or a mug or do you think that makes a difference in western tea bc asians say it should be served in those little ones bc it stays a great temperature bc if you leave out too much tea then it cools. The science never ends! xx

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    1. I think in the end that everyone thinks they make tea the right way, and that may just have happened from family tradition, or some sort of accident where they liked the result (maybe like S and his 8 times dunking habit). I drink my tea black - used to have sugar in it, but cut it out years ago, so I'm very easy to please when it comes to making me a cup of tea! Well, I like to think I am….
      My Mother in Law had that kettle, but it was defective and she sent it back and didn't get another one. She complained it was putting out a plasticky taste in the water. But I thought the concept was brilliant.
      I drink tea mostly in my tea cups, which are breakfast cup sized so extra large. I will drink it in a mug if I run out of clean teacups (I only have 3 breakfast cups), but prefer the teacup. I think there is a perfect point temperature wise, and there is nothing more satisfying to me than drinking it when I've picked it just right. Hot, but not enough to burn your tongue. So once it's at that point I down it quickly!
      If you like your tea strong with milk, it's because the milk will mask the tea flavour a bit. I prefer a slightly weaker tea to my husband, as he drinks his with milk so it is adulterated (as I like to think of it!!).
      I love an Oolong tea myself, and Jasmine too (I also like Earl Grey though which other's detest and that's strong on the bergamot). But I don't much like Green Tea! I'll drink it, but it's not my preferred option. It's funny how loaded Tea is with etiquette, social and cultural traditions.

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    2. I love all the etiquette surrounding tea drinking.

      Naomi, did you know there's a tea room in Richmond called The Tea Box. It's always filled to the gunwales.

      There was a very nice Georgian house built for Twinings for sale in Hampton a while ago.

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  6. Never drink it at home, I think it's so insipid and or bitter depending on the type but when I'm out for Afternoon Tea I do love Lapsang Souchong or Yerba Mate which is served in a few hotels.

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    1. I can't drink Lapsang Souchong - makes me feel like I'm smoking a packet of cigarettes with my tea. Definitely an acquired taste that I haven't managed to acquire I think. I had it first in Fortnum's, and felt very sophisticated after requesting it. Then regretted it bitterly as I had to choke down a cup and keep up appearances!

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  7. What an interesting post Heidi! We grew up drinking tea (more commonly of the 'builder's' variety - though it was always brewed in a teapot!) - so much so that I actually had to force myself to learn to drink coffee as a young adult. Now I seem to have a routine where I have tea at home/work (where I can control how it is made) and coffee when I am out and about. I too am far too disappointed with the tea bag floating in not-quite boiling water that seems to often be the norm...and this in England! Of course, there are always lovely cafes that still preserve the tea rituals accordingly. I was gifted a lovely wedgewood tea cup/saucer by a good friend when I became a British citizen, so that has now formed my tea drinking ritual at home...milk in last...

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    1. I've never got into the whole coffee thing - I don't know why? But you're quite right about controlling the tea. I think you've got a far higher chance of getting a decent cup of coffee when out and about than you have a cup of tea. I never drink tea on a plane for instance, as it's never made with boiling water, and always tastes horrific as a result of being kept in one of those thermos jugs. Overbrewed and bitter!
      Glad to hear it's milk in last! :) And what a perfect gift your friend gave you with the tea cup on becoming a British Citizen! Lovely.

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  8. Milk goes in last, , end of story . No tea strainer Heidi?

    As a small child I was trained to take Mum a tea tray fist thing in the morning , I do remember dropping the whole thing on the stairs a few times . Tea leaves and sugar on the carpet from here to ...Adelaide

    Hoping for better news re SA fires












    Hoping for better news re these SA fires

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    1. Thanks smr - apparently they think they have the fires under control, but we'll see tomorrow as it's extremely hot and there are lightening strikes predicted.
      So sweet you used to take your mum a tea tray. That simply would be of no interest to my children. I'm just grateful I've taught them how to make their own breakfast now, so I'm not being badgered from 6am for something to eat!
      I have a tea strainer, but most modern tea pots seem to have the inbuilt strainer thingy, so I rarely need to use it. I was thinking the other day I needed to polish it as it was looking a little tarnished…

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  9. I use sugar lumps at home. People often comment as though it's an affectation but it stemmed from a desire for portion control (not to be trusted with a teaspoon, me) and I grew attached. Love coffee in the morning (manual machine at home, freshly ground etc etc), tea at night (much less fussy, bag Dilmah in a favourite dainty mug) and peppermint tea besides. I take my tea bags and lumps with me when I travel or to non-caffeinated beverage drinking friends homes and have refused tea when only lite milk is on offer. Just what one is used to, I suppose. I have a beautiful V&B White Lace pot and when that comes out, it's a shame not to go the whole nine yards!

    Love a potentially contentious topic. Try wine next. ; )

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    1. Funny, I get a few comments about the lump sugar too, so most people it would seem have just normal sugar in their sugar bowls. I remember back in the 80's my Mum used to have special sugar cubes (those perfect white ones) that would have a little design iced on one side of them. They were for Dinner Parties, and we though them so beautiful. Ha! Not sure they'll come back in fashion…
      I take my tea bags with me too. I've stayed in too many hotels where they only give you two teabags in the room, and they're not very nice tea at any rate!
      Not sure I'd want to breach the whole wine thing!! Living in Adelaide every one is an expert, so I just tend to keep quiet when out to dinner and let everyone else go on about the wine!

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  10. Hello Heidi,

    I drink both, but only since moving to America. Twenty or so years ago one could not root out a good cup of coffee in England. Things have, of course, gone topsy-turvy now and coffee has overtaken tea drinking there. When I first arrived in California, I discovered real coffee - so delicious, and none of it had the word "Nescafe" associated with it! However, the downside was seeking out good tea which was nigh impossible back then (Liptons was what you got if you asked for a cuppa!). Today, of course, there has been a tea revolution here and there are many fine quality teas available for sale.

    Oh, and yes, milk goes in last, loose tea only and certainly from a tea cup not mug. I just enjoyed afternoon tea at The Plaza in New York and thinking back, I don't believe the tea in the pot was loose as there was no tea strainer on the table - the horror!

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    1. I can remember so clearly arriving in London to live 15 years ago, going into one of those builders cafes that we found (the only thing open) at 7am, and my husband asking for a Flat White (common term in Australia for a white coffee). They looked at him like he was from another planet, so I interpreted, and told him I didn't think there was a coffee machine in there… sure enough she got out a huge tin of instant coffee, and made him a cup. I seem to recall that the only place to reliably get a latte at the time was Pret a Manger. How the wheel has turned, and it's tea that's the problem now!
      I can't believe the Plaza would use tea bags.. surely not?! Maybe there was an inbuilt strainer in the pot? I certainly hope so!

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  11. Heidi what a great post, makes me want to drink more tea. I prefer a clear tea without milk (but a bit of controversy with the milk!) and the timing of this is so funny because my Staub teapot just arrived on the front porch. I bought mine in the basil colour that looks very nice indeed on my new range. The Staub is quite heavy but is meant for heating and serving and comes with the mesh tea ball thingy inside, now I just need to find some loose tea. Wish I could visit that store in Paris, I think it's Hediard?
    I find it very calming to drink tea in the afternoons which is why I bought the new teapot, have you ever used the Staub?
    I must have coffee (with milk) in the morning, we use a Moccamaster (made in the Netherlands) which I think is an excellent coffee maker, basic but brews perfectly. xo

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    1. I'll have to go and google the Staub teapot, we can get Staub here, but it's a bit limited in range. It sounds like a lovely teapot, and basil a fab colour choice Dani! I've picked up tea from Mariage Freres in Paris before, not sure about Hediard, but I'm no Paris expert by any means! I've been very happy since T2 started up in Australia about 14 years ago. They have a huge range of loose leaf tea. I should have sent you some of theirs in that parcel I put together! Wish I'd thought of it!!

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  12. Very interesting post! Of course milk goes in last! My family would have a fit if it were to be put in first! My mother tells a story of her mean Aunt who would re-use tea bags and put the milk in first... Shudder!
    In fact, I don't drink milk, so my usual hot drinks are an Espresso or three in the morning, then herbal tea post 12.
    I love green tea and fragrant teas, but don't like normal 'builders'' tea.
    It makes sense that tea is a fragrance - how interesting!
    Thinking of you in those terrible weather conditions xxx

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    1. Oh that is just awful - if you reuse a teabag that is in a brew that has already got milk in it you're bound to get some salmonella poisoning at some point! Ick!! That tea bag reusing was a depression thing, wasn't it? I suppose old habits died hard!
      Sounds like you'd fit into Italy very well with your Espresso in the morning habit Ruth! Thanks for your thoughts on the weather. Hoping the cool change comes through soon. It's so hot and windy!

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    2. Yes, the reuse of tea was a depression era thing though they didn't have teabags then. They would make one pot at the start of the week (I teaspoon of tea for each person + one for the pot) and each day would add only one fresh teaspoon of tea to the dregs before adding fresh boiling water. My Aunt (now deceased) still did this when making a pot of tea. The end of week tea dregs went on her rose bushes I think?

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  13. Hi Heidi. Great post and many interesting comments too.
    I love tea, but I don't tend to it out for the same reasons as everyone else mentions. I haven't had a decent cup of tea in weeks because you can't get the water hot enough at altitude (we are still in Colorado) so it doesn't taste right and there is a funny scum on the top - I have no idea why. I've observed that this happened in the office too - you have to make your tea form a hot water tap, which is not boiling.
    On the milk first - I had thought that the reason was because, when tea became fashionable in England it was very expensive and it was also difficult to keep milk fresh. Milk in first meant that you didn't waste a whole cup of tea if the milk was indeed off. I agree with you that it is so irritating when people insist that milk must go in first.
    On coffee - I have developed a love of coffee over the years - mainly since meeting my husband. We have a jura coffee machine which I adore and buy Monmouth coffee beans for it. During both of my pregnancies I have not been able to stomach the idea of drinking coffee though!
    Apologies for the lack of comments recently. I have been offline for our holiday and resurfacing now! I enjoyed reading your posts (with a coffee).
    xx

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    1. The scum on the water I remember from living in London and it was because the water was so hard. But I would have thought in Colorado that you'd have a great water supply? Here in Adelaide you get the scum layer if you use unfiltered water… we have the worst water supply in Australia (it's an acquired taste!), and it definitely adulterates the tea.
      That's interesting you're the second comment about the curdled milk concept. Perhaps it arose as a combination of the two things? If there was a chance you'd damage an expensive cup pouring water into it, and from a practical point of view waste tea by adding curdled milk it would make sense to put it in first… although no reason for it these days!
      Hope you had a wonderful holiday - I figured you were busy in Colorado, but so nice to hear from you now Charlotte!

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  14. You do such a lovely tea, especially with the cake in all its beauty displayed. I have always wanted to buy some old-lady teacups which are handsdown the best ones to drink from as opposed to our mugly old mugs. I drink bucketloads of tea all day and my fave is Lady Grey.

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    1. I love Lady Grey too, it's a nice brew. The cake display.. well, it is all in the presentation - always makes everyone think it tastes better than it is I think! I like a dust of icing sugar over the top too. Hides a multitude of sins. My aunt actually icing sugar dusts things that she's bought from the shop and it tricks people into thinking it's home made!

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  15. Love this post, I found the information great you have added to my knowledge of tea, thank you.
    I drink both when out I have coffee as I cannot bring myself to pay for a tea bag although many cafe's are bringing the pot.
    I love Twinings and T2.
    My husband and I have begun using some older Mikasa coffee mugs and I have been surprised that they have developed 'crazing' in the base of the mug so the history of 'milk first' didn't surprise me but my Mikasa mugs have.
    Would love the recipe of the final cake shot in your kitchen, looks divine.
    Happy 2015, Brisbane

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    1. It's interesting how many have commented they won't order tea when out. I bet the cafes think they don't need to lift their game on the teabag in tepid water front as the demand for tea isn't there!!
      Do the mugs go in the dishwasher? That usually produces the crazing, but if they don't I have no idea why they have. Shall post the cake recipe in an upcoming post, thanks for your comment!

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  16. What an interesting post! Love the history of tea and cups you've shared. As a Welshman's daughter of course I already knew milk was added last! Ha. Ha. I always drank tea but when I was teaching, coffee was quicker to make (instant obviously) and scoot to playground duty. After my recent Gall bladder surgery, I can no longer drink coffee at all and am really enjoying returning to its consumption.

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    1. I didn't know coffee was out with when you had gallbladder problems - well, I think you've got the better option if you're allowed tea instead at any rate KL! Funny how recent coffee machines are compared to the old tin of instant coffee really - everyone's now a Barista at home. Made me laugh a lot that Nescafe Blend 43 launched those ads last year where the girl went home to her Dad's and he was still making instant and it made her all nostalgic!

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  17. Love tea too! I find Twinnings here to be quite stale and Madurah seems to be slightly "fresher" in taste when purchasing from the supermarkets. I only drink Earl Grey and Breakfast tea if using supermarket tea bags. T2 is superb and the day they opened in Adelaide (and now many other outlets) was a happy happy day in my life. Cheers, A.

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    1. Agree on the T2 opening A! I was so happy to see them open soon after I arrived in Adelaide. I used to go to their first store in Melbourne on Brunswick street back in 2000, and it's just such a nice place to browse and try out different teas.

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  18. Afternoon tea is an essential for this household!
    Le Husband favours Mariage Frères, natch, plus Lapsang, OP, and Gunpowder. Never with sugar, or milk...oh the horror!

    Do you partake of elevenses?

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    1. Well, I do a morning tea around that time, but we don't call it elevenses in Australia. I think you'd be thought a little affected if you did (unless you were English in which case you could get away with it!). Oh you and your husband are my kind of people - no sugar, no milk! Aside from the liking of Lapsang, comment above to Tabitha on that one! I do love Orange Pekoe too. Also one of my favourites (but hard to find when out).

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  19. Coffee first and then tea (always leaves). I mostly drink green tea and I actually have an electric water
    boiler from Japan (I bought it on Ebay) that boils and then keep the water at the perfect temperature
    (98 degrees) for tea. I like Tbar but often find their speciality teas cheaper elsewhere.

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    1. You're very organised to get a special kettle via ebay Barbara - I shall have to go and look them up as they sound perfect if they keep the water at the right temperature.

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  20. BRILLIANT POST!!!!! I own ZERO tea cups and I need to remedy that. I have a vast collection of tea though! I have a silver tea pot but not the faintest idea on how to actually go about serving with it. I know none of this, I wasn't taught growing up (I was only taught, enough teabags for each person and one for the pot, but that is tea bags, not loose leaf and I can't recall ever doing it myself). I swear I have missed out on a lot and you are filling in the gaps that my mother and my google searching have missed. My aunty told me that June dally whats her name says with scones, the cream goes on first and the jam on top of the cream. That doesn't even make sense! I have a theory that these "etiquette" rules are simply made up to be ridiculous and only people in the know, know to do it and when you don't do it the way they deem, you are ridiculed!
    Why would you put the milk in first? That is silly (Why would you have milk at all, that is my other question, but whatever floats your boat) Risk putting too much and no way to fix, enjoy your washed out milky tea!

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    1. With the tea in teapot question, you just do one teaspoon (heaped) scoop per person and one for the pot (you can buy tea scoops - I have an antique silver one, you'd easily find them on eBay searching for sterling silver and they're not particularly expensive, especially if you get EPNS (silver plate)). You're supposed to have another teapot with hot water only in it, so that if someone wants weaker tea you can do half a cup of the tea and top it up with hot water to dilute it (I don't usually bother with this part). Usually you're supposed to warm the teapot with a little bit of hot water - swish it around and tip it out. Put in the tea leaves, add the water and then let it sit (don't stir!) for 5 minutes. Then pour. You'll need a tea strainer though if it doesn't have an inbuilt strainer. I bought a silver one quite cheaply on eBay (it was Tiffany's and is 110 years old, but as it has an engraved monogram on the handle, it didn't go for as much money… the initials were my daughters, so I was happy about it!). You're supposed to pour for each person after asking if they take milk (don't give them as much tea if they do). Then I like to pass around the milk and sugar bowl separately so they can put that in themselves. That's about it I think? Ask anything I've forgotten about! But you definitely need a few tea cups! Mugs just aren't the same (although I'm drinking a cup of tea from a mug right now… my husband made it so I don't refuse!).
      The cream first on a scone seems silly from a logic perspective, and I've never heard of it as being the correct etiquette… but I'm not an expert on that like June D-W!

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    2. Oh, I should say that if you wish to be technically correct with the milk and sugar you're supposed to ask the person how they take their tea, and then add in the milk or sugar as they request it before passing the cup to them. I don't do this part, preferring to pass the sugar and milk separately, but that's not correct etiquette!

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    3. Etiquette, schmetiquitte. I have inherited a taste for strong tea from both sides of the family, and no-one makes my tea strong enough or hot enough. i am hooked on PG tips teabags from Coles in a large pre-heated mug and I will add my own sugar and milk thank you very much. A social pariah maybe, but it gets me through the day! :-)

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    4. It sounds like you prefer Builders tea Minerva, although I think it needs a new name - from the amount of takeaway coffee cups I've picked up from our building site over the past 2 years, I'd say the modern day Builder definitely prefers a Latte!

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  21. Now I'm craving tea! Marriage Freres Wedding Imperial is the most divine thing ever (and I take it with milk.)

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    1. I haven't tried that blend.. will have to have a look at it next time I'm ever anywhere near Paris (not likely for a while sadly!).

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  22. Great post Heidi - you had me at G&T or glass of bubbles!! I have just realised, writing this, that I have not had a cup of coffee whilst I have been on annual leave from work (three weeks now)!! That will probably change when I go back on Monday and the first thing I do when I get there at 10am will be to make a coffee!! I rarely drink tea - I have only ever found one person who can make it the way I like it - so anything else seems so wrong. If I order a hot drink whilst out, it is usually a skinny hot chocolate. But saying that, I have declared 2015 to be the year of trying new teas and will be treating myself to a fancy new teapot. Jo xx

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    1. Wow Jo, you didn't even realise you hadn't had coffee?? You obviously didn't get caffeine withdrawals? Well, wishing you all the best for your return to the office on Monday, and the return of the 10am coffee! x

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  23. OMG! The $4.50 mug of hot water with a bag of Lipton's on the side . . . *rage* What a rort that is. I do generally take milk with tea (although equally happy to have a nice Lady or Earl Grey black if the mood takes me) and I thoroughly agree milk is added last. Just a splash.

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    1. Teabags cost maybe 10 cents each, so it always just seems like a massive rip off to me!! Guess they need to make a good margin somewhere to cover the cost of the special coffee beans and the Barista!

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  24. What an interesting post Heidi! I am definitely a tea girl, I can't start the day without one, and I have ALWAYS added the milk AFTER pouring my tea. I have always wondered why people insist that milk is to be poured first, it isn't even logical, what if you poured too much? Fascinating that it is considered a fragrance & not a taste, but I guess when I take my tea, I do tend to smell it first and then drink it & yet when I drink coffee, I never smell it & always savour it after taking the first sip. Food for thought.
    Following and earlier thread about the scones, I have an English friend that told me that there are two methods of preparing them depending on whether you follow the method in Cornwall (jam first then cream) or the method in Devon (cream first then jam) & that there is quite a strong feeling amongst the 2 counties' inhabitants about the correct method, me, I follow the Cornwall method as I love clotted cream & feel it should be the hero & the first taste I have.

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  25. I am partial to tea. Made tea for family today, inspired by this post. As I was cleaning the teapot, I accidentally added dish washing liquid instead of washing with hot water only (apparently a big no no for tea purists!). Time for a new teapot.

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  26. Heidi this is so very interesting to me. I'm a coffee drinker and I am hyper specific about my coffee, but detest snarky coffee culture that, and I'll just go ahead and be an ass and be frank, is so bourgeois I can't stand it. I'm going to use these tips and see if I might enjoy tea more. I have hundreds of tea cups so it'll be fun :). I've never bonded much with tea, but thinking I've never had it made just right! In the summer I do enjoy making herbal teas from my garden, but I think that's more a case of being in love with the ritual.

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  27. Interesting! A word of caution, be careful with Twinings - after doing some research I've come to realise that their tea is grown in China and not India/Sri Lanka where tea has traditionally been grown (there is nothing inherently wrong with buy produce from China, but naturally is a factor to be aware of to be an informed consumer and also given their rules governing the use of pesticides are different to our own, pollution etc). Additionally to my horror I've discovered that twinings tea bags contain polypropylene (plastic). Here is a link to an article I've read to this extent, http://treadingmyownpath.com/2014/07/11/the-scandalous-plastic-in-tea-bags-who-knew/
    So in light of that I've switched to byron bay tea (being from the east coast) which is admittedly more expensive but at least no plastic tea bags.... although annoyingly given that labelling practices are so vague it is impossible to really know where anything comes from...

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Architect & Interior Designer. Mother of three. A sometimes Cook, Baker, Reader, Gardener, Fashion Lover, Renovator, Writer of random things in South Australia email me on anadelaidevilla@bigpond.com
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