HOW TO BREW A PROPER POT OF ENGLISH TEA
1. Fill a large kettle with fresh, cold tap water and heat it almost to a boil. Partially fill a bone china teapot (porcelain or earthenware also may be used) with the hot water and swirl it around to warm the pot. Toss the warming water out and towel the teapot dry.
2. Bring the water remaining in the kettle to a full rolling boil. Measure loose tea leaves into the heated teapot (usually one teaspoon for each cup plus a teaspoon for the pot). You could replace each teaspoon with a teabag, but the British generally frown on the use of teabags, except for picnics.
3. Take the teapot to the kettle and pour the boiling water over the leaves (you want the water to still be boiling when it hits the leaves, but you don’t want it to boil for too long beforehand or your tea will taste flat). Stir well and, if you wish, put a tea cosy over the pot.
4. Wait for the tea to brew (3 minutes for small leaves like English or Irish breakfast blends and Assam teas; 4 to 5 minutes for medium blends such as Ceylon breakfast; 5 to 6 minutes for large leaves like oolongs and Earl Grey). Serve immediately.
5. If you use milk in your tea, pour a small amount of cold, whole milk (never skim!) into your bone china tea cup, then pour in the tea. Some prefer to reverse that method and pour the tea in first, but the British Standards Institute insists that pouring the hot tea over the milk scalds it and brings out the flavor of the tea. Sugar is optional. Lemon goes well with green teas or scented teas.
7. Add more hot water to the pot as necessary and, when you’ve finished pouring, refill the pot with more hot water to steep for the second round.
based in part on instructions in The Best of Gourmet, 1996