The English people are the greatest tea-drinkers in the world. They drink tea several times a day. At offices and factories there is a tea break at eleven and in the middle of the afternoon.
And so tea is Britain’s favourite drink. The English know how to make tea and what it is does for you. In England people say jokingly: “The test of good tea simple. If a spoon stands up in it, then it is strong enough”
Tea is part of the prose of British life, as necessary as potatoes and bread. It is drunk with or without sugar but almost always with milk. The milk is usually cold. When the English have tea they prefer to pour milk into the cup first and then tea, but not the other way round. The taste is different. No self-respecting Briton would drink a cup of tea which has not been made in a teapot; he would certainly never accept a cup with a tea bag.
In England making tea is a very serious matter. Fresh water is boiled in a kettle and when the water is hot, a little is put in the teapot to warm it. The pot is then dried and the tea is put in – one spoonful for each person and “one for the pot”. When the water is quite boiling, it is poured on to the tea and the tea must be left four or five minutes before it is at its best.
Afternoon tea or 5 o’clock tea one can hardly call a meal, but it is a sociable sort of things, as friends often come in for a chat while they have their cup of tea, cake or biscuit.
Tea must be poured in cups as carefully, as it is made. Before you pour tea you should ask each person which he or she prefers: with milk or without, with sugar or without it.
Tea with lemon is called “Russian tea”.
But in Scotland people prefer more substantial meal and call it “high tea”. They have it between 5 and 6 o’clock. They eat ham or tongue and tomatoes and salad, or tinned salmon, or sausages, with good strong tea, plenty of bread and butter, then stewed fruit, or a tin of pears, apricots or pineapple with cream and pastries and a good cake. And that’s what they call a good tea.