Question: What is a common British phrase uttered when something goes wrong, something goes right, it’s morning/afternoon/evening/midnight, or someone comes over to your house?

Answer: “I’ll put the kettle on.”

There is something about holding a steaming mug in your hands, inhaling the scent of fine tea, and sipping it slowly in the company of good friends. It’s just good therapy.

Tea-drinking is a ritual, and it doesn’t have to be as complicated as a Japanese tea-drinking ceremony. The act of putting on your kettle, pouring the tea of your choice in your favorite mug….For me, it’s a way to center myself. To reassure myself that the world is as real as this cup of tea. I sometimes focus just on the act of drinking the tea: a great mindfulness exercise, as well as a way from moving out of any negative thinking patterns you might be in.

Tea also has the potential to be a social activity. Offer some to your friends in fancy schmancy cups with some delicious cookies, and you’ve got yourself an afternoon.

If you’ve never tried this marvelous remedy, here are some easy tips for making the “perfect cuppa.” (That roughly translates to “perfect cup of tea.”) There’s a lot of debate as to how this should be done – I won’t even go into the MIF/TIF debate. This is my personal interpretation of the rite of tea drinking as done by a British-American and should be taken as such.

  1. Select your tea. Do you want caffeine, or is it time for bed? What kind of tea do you want (black, green, white, rooibos, or herbal)? Experiment – move beyond Lipton’s. If you’re socially conscious – which I hope you are – you may want to select a fair trade variety of tea. I highly recommend Choice Organic Teas and/or Equal Exchange. Yogi Teas also makes some great herbal blends. My mother relies on Yogi tea’s “Bedtime” tea for, well, bedtime. Loose teas are nice as well, but this would go on for ages if I got into loose teas.
  2. Brew your water. I’m told that springwater tastes better – it probably does – but I’m not a huge fan of buying bottled water. I usually just use filtered water. Don’t miss this important tea step: make sure the water has actually boiled before you steep your tea leaves.
  3. Mug, teapot, delicate china cup – it’s up to you. There are merits for each kind, but honestly, this is about personal preference. Does drinking from grandma’s set of china bring back good memories? Do you have a “World’s #1 Dad” mug that just calls to you? Basically: place your tea bag in your drinking vessel, add boiling water.
  4. Wait. This is key. The water will change color before the tea has finished brewing. Also, brewing times differ depending on the kind of tea you make. Most teas will actually tell you, but a rough rule of thumb is: 3-5 minutes for black tea, 1-3 minutes for green tea, 1-2 minutes for white tea, 5-8 minutes for rooibos. Herbal tea really varies – I sometimes leave it in for as long as 15 minutes, but you can get away with 5 minutes if you’re in a rush. Note: if you’re brewing tea for a long period of time, cover it so it doesn’t get cold. You’ll also want to keep an eye on green tea – it can turn bitter very quickly.
  5. After you remove your tea bag, you can add any “extras” to your tea. Common extras include milk or non-dairy milk (such as soy) and/or some sort of sweetener (sugar, agave, honey). Sometimes people add lemon, but I think that’s usually done further South from where I live. This is really up to you. I’d never heard of anyone adding anything to green tea before my friend decided to add some honey and soy milk to hers. It’s actually quite tasty, although I’m sure many would call it sacrilege.
  6. Enjoy!
from Alice in Wonderland

Mad Hatter's Tea Party