Making a cup of tea for an Englishman is the most difficult and complicated task in the whole world. Especially if the Englishman we are talking about is Mr. Brit.
Just to be clear. Everybody knows that English people are obsessed with their tea. That’s a fact. Well, imagine my face when I was told from one of Mr. Brit’s English friends that “He’s quite particular with his tea.” A Brit saying that another Brit is obsessed with tea. That’s like…exponentially obsessed.
Basically that was my cue to start running for the hills and never look back. Instead, since I’m stubborn, I decided to stay and make it my mission to get to a point in which my cup of tea is at least drinkable.
The first cuppa was met with a polite smile and a “Actually, it’s not too bad!” which translated for the rest of the world it would sound more or less like this: “This is so horrible, so disgusting, I have to figure out a way to subtly pour it in Miss Furry Ball’s food container while she’s not looking.”
After that “not too bad” cup, I got very subtly lectured (“Baby, that cup was great, good job! It was one of the most delicious cups I’ve ever had in my whole life! In return, please, let me brew some tea for you. Look very closely at how much love and attention I put into this one just for you because I love you so much. But yours – ha – it was so good.”) on how to make tea “the English way.”
1. First of all, the type of tea has to be “English Breakfast” because “Earl Grey smells like grandmas.”
2. Boil water in a kettle. The kettle has to be a special Made in England stove top kettle. “Electric ones are rubbish.”
3. Pour steamy water in a cup, with a tea bag in it already. (“And look, look how brown the water gets immediately. Not like fake American teas that you have to add three teabags to get to this color.”
4. Here comes the trick. You have to take a spoon and “agitate” the tea bag. Not squeeze it, not stir it, or it’ll get bitter. “You have to agitate it. For like…umm..a couple of minutes.”
5. Take the tea bag out and add sugar (one spoon) and milk (skim milk, for the love of God!) “until it gets to the desired color.”
6. Enjoy. (Possibly with biscuits.)
At the probably 1,000th attempt, after measuring myself with my agitating techniques, my sugar adding methods and confronting myself with more shades of brown than there is in a Pantone scale, I think I almost got it.
Well, at least we’ve gotten to the stage in which “Mmm, lovely cup of tea, thank you” which translated for the rest of the world: “Yeah, drinkable. But you can do better.”
Still a long way to go… but next up: him making a perfectly creamy, not too hot not too cold, right ratio of coffee and milk, cappuccino for me! He doesn’t know yet.