Tea Drinking

Theme: Stereotypes, traditions, history, continuity

"Tea is one of the mainstays of civilization in this country"
George Orwell, Evening Standard, January 1946

1. Read the following information about the ritual of tea brewing. Which of them seem quite unusual?

George Orwell’s 11 rules for the perfect cup of tea:

  • Use tea from India or Ceylon (Sri Lanka), not China.
  • Use a teapot, preferably ceramic
  • Warm the pot over direct heat.
  • Tea should be strong – six spoons of leaves per litre.
  • Let the leaves move around the pot – no bags or strainers.
  • Take the pot to the boiling kettle.
  • Stir or shake the pot.
  • Drink out of a tall, mug-shaped teacup.
  • Don't add creamy milk.
  • Add milk to the tea, not vice versa.
  • No sugar!

2. Do you know how to make a perfect cup of tea according to the Royal Society of Chemistry? Try to put the following instructions in the correct order. Check with the key.

Ingredients: Loose-leaf Assam tea; soft water; fresh, chilled milk; white sugar.

Implements: Kettle; ceramic teapot; large ceramic mug; fine mesh tea strainer; teaspoon, microwave oven.

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  • While waiting for the water to boil, place a ceramic teapot containing a quarter of a cup of water in a microwave oven on full power for one minute
  • Synchronize your actions so that you have drained the water from the microwaved pot at the same time that the kettle water boils.
  • Add sugar to taste
  • Drink at between 60 – 65 degrees C to avoid vulgar slurping which results from trying to drink tea at too high a temperature
  • Draw fresh, soft water and place in kettle and boil. Boil just the required quantity to avoid wasting time, water and power
  • Place one rounded teaspoon of tea per cup into the pot.
  • Take the pot to the kettle as it is boiling, pour on to the leaves and stir
  • Leave to brew for three minutes.
  • Pour milk into the cup first, followed by the tea, aiming to achieve a rich and attractive colour
  • The ideal receptacle is a ceramic mug or your personal mug.

3. Answer the questions before watching the video:

1) What are the stereotypes we have about the British? Which of them can be quite outdated?

2) Do you think tea-drinking is still a popular ritual in Britain?

3) How much tea do you drink? Are you particular about the blends?

4. Study the following vocabulary before watching the video:
  • Stiff upper lip;
  • Beverage;
  • A pick-you-up;
  • To take to something;
  • To be hooked;
  • Shrewd
  • To enthuse;
  • To brew, brewing;
  • Loose tea, tea bags;
  • Tea blend.