iBankCoin
18 years in Wall Street, left after finding out it was all horseshit. Founder/ Master and Commander: iBankCoin, finance news and commentary from the future.
Joined Nov 10, 2007
19,771 Blog Posts

Mr. Orwell Would Like to School You About a Cup of Tea

This essay written by George Orwell should be read and absorbed by all. It holds the secrets of life, especially with regards to the art of proper tea making.

If you look up ‘tea’ in the first cookery book that comes to hand you will probably find that it is unmentioned; or at most you will find a few lines of sketchy instructions which give no ruling on several of the most important points.

This is curious, not only because tea is one of the main stays of civilization in this country, as well as in Eire, Australia and New Zealand, but because the best manner of making it is the subject of violent disputes.

When I look through my own recipe for the perfect cup of tea, I find no fewer than eleven outstanding points. On perhaps two of them there would be pretty general agreement, but at least four others are acutely controversial. Here are my own eleven rules, every one of which I regard as golden:

First of all, one should use Indian or Ceylonese tea. China tea has virtues which are not to be despised nowadays — it is economical, and one can drink it without milk — but there is not much stimulation in it. One does not feel wiser, braver or more optimistic after drinking it. Anyone who has used that comforting phrase ‘a nice cup of tea’ invariably means Indian tea.

Secondly, tea should be made in small quantities — that is, in a teapot. Tea out of an urn is always tasteless, while army tea, made in a cauldron, tastes of grease and whitewash. The teapot should be made of china or earthenware. Silver or Britanniaware teapots produce inferior tea and enamel pots are worse; though curiously enough a pewter teapot (a rarity nowadays) is not so bad.

Thirdly, the pot should be warmed beforehand. This is better done by placing it on the hob than by the usual method of swilling it out with hot water.

Fourthly, the tea should be strong. For a pot holding a quart, if you are going to fill it nearly to the brim, six heaped teaspoons would be about right. In a time of rationing, this is not an idea that can be realized on every day of the week, but I maintain that one strong cup of tea is better than twenty weak ones. All true tea lovers not only like their tea strong, but like it a little stronger with each year that passes — a fact which is recognized in the extra ration issued to old-age pensioners.

Fifthly, the tea should be put straight into the pot. No strainers, muslin bags or other devices to imprison the tea. In some countries teapots are fitted with little dangling baskets under the spout to catch the stray leaves, which are supposed to be harmful. Actually one can swallow tea-leaves in considerable quantities without ill effect, and if the tea is not loose in the pot it never infuses properly.

Sixthly, one should take the teapot to the kettle and not the other way about. The water should be actually boiling at the moment of impact, which means that one should keep it on the flame while one pours. Some people add that one should only use water that has been freshly brought to the boil, but I have never noticed that it makes any difference.

Seventhly, after making the tea, one should stir it, or better, give the pot a good shake, afterwards allowing the leaves to settle.

Eighthly, one should drink out of a good breakfast cup — that is, the cylindrical type of cup, not the flat, shallow type. The breakfast cup holds more, and with the other kind one’s tea is always half cold before one has well started on it.

Ninthly, one should pour the cream off the milk before using it for tea. Milk that is too creamy always gives tea a sickly taste.

Tenthly, one should pour tea into the cup first. This is one of the most controversial points of all; indeed in every family in Britain there are probably two schools of thought on the subject. The milk-first school can bring forward some fairly strong arguments, but I maintain that my own argument is unanswerable. This is that, by putting the tea in first and stirring as one pours, one can exactly regulate the amount of milk whereas one is liable to put in too much milk if one does it the other way round.

Lastly, tea — unless one is drinking it in the Russian style — should be drunk without sugar. I know very well that I am in a minority here. But still, how can you call yourself a true tealover if you destroy the flavour of your tea by putting sugar in it? It would be equally reasonable to put in pepper or salt. Tea is meant to be bitter, just as beer is meant to be bitter. If you sweeten it, you are no longer tasting the tea, you are merely tasting the sugar; you could make a very similar drink by dissolving sugar in plain hot water.

Some people would answer that they don’t like tea in itself, that they only drink it in order to be warmed and stimulated, and they need sugar to take the taste away. To those misguided people I would say: Try drinking tea without sugar for, say, a fortnight and it is very unlikely that you will ever want to ruin your tea by sweetening it again.

These are not the only controversial points to arise in connexion with tea drinking, but they are sufficient to show how subtilized the whole business has become. There is also the mysterious social etiquette surrounding the teapot (why is it considered vulgar to drink out of your saucer, for instance?) and much might be written about the subsidiary uses of tealeaves, such as telling fortunes, predicting the arrival of visitors, feeding rabbits, healing burns and sweeping the carpet. It is worth paying attention to such details as warming the pot and using water that is really boiling, so as to make quite sure of wringing out of one’s ration the twenty good, strong cups of that two ounces, properly handled, ought to represent.

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83 comments

  1. Yabollox

    The Keurig machine can make a great cup of tea. Too bad Orwell didn’t last long enough to find out about that!

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    • Yabollox

      The kids love it for hot chocolate too!

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    • Calgary G

      I would imagine he would consider it an abomination.

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    • Luv2Gambool

      The Keurig makes piss-water coffee, awful tea and weak-ass hot chocolate…I’ve owned a Keurig for 2 years and had been in denial because I owned $GMCR…When Einhorn got me out, the “kool-aid” wore off and I realized I’m drinking shitty hot drinks. Now it’s all $SBUX and $TEA for me.

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      • Calgary G

        In your continuing evolution you will discover Starbucks to be the McDonalds of coffee…..Best coffee I ever had was at Artigiano in Vancouver…….Magnifique.

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        • Calgary G

          Sorry, didn’t mean to imply the only good coffee on the planet is in Van,just wanted to say the best shit is usually from local shops…. Chains are always pale imitations of the real deal.

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          • Calgary G

            ……And shit out of a machine like a Keurig is unmitigated crap.Period. Rented a place in NYC this summer that had a machine of that sort….being a hardcore coffee addict, I awoke the first morning and managed to fire up the machine, only to discover it was undrinkable….Next day and thereafter we took breakfast and coffee in a local resto…

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  2. Reader

    I find myself almost entirely in agreement with Mr Orwell. Every morning begins with an exposure of to the news whilst accompanied a 3-mug pot of tea, made however using an outsized teaball for proper steeping and general tidiness. The pot “lives” next to the electric kettle.

    I always put my 2% milk in first because I know how fucking strong my tea is, but I recognize that savages might be less aware.

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  3. Dick pepperfield

    Tea… Seriously…

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    • OZ

      I’m with you…discussing tea?

      Is Fly going through a midlife crisis?

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      • asteroids

        No. He’s trying to introduce feeble minds to a concept called “style.” From there, the master can apply “style” lessons to the art of trading. I await Fly’s next installment.

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        • dortmunder

          no..he is trying to be different

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          • Dick pepperfield

            I drink my tea and watch the style network every morning

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          • Dick pepperfield

            My only issues arise when trying to compliment my tea with a fine biscuit. I just can’t seem to find the right biscuit! Argh! Please help me, I must have the right biscuit with my perfectly steeped English breakfast tea!

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  4. Missladybug

    As one who grew up drinking brewed tea leaves, I appreciate your article on the art of drinking tea. Own a glass teapot(about 2 cups) with a handle, sitting on a beautiful handcrafted rosewood frame in which houses an oil lamp. The tea stays warm/hot as the chatting goes on with friends. It’s meant for sipping the fragrant tea in small tea cups only.

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  5. Vegas Trader II

    Your ass is first on chopping block PAL..
    Time to tax the shit out of you Kerry!!
    The plan is “unacceptable,” said Democratic Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts. Not requiring more taxes from high earners would be “unconscionable,” Kerry said. He said he remains hopeful for a deal, “but I don’t know at this time.”

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    • Mr. Cain Thaler

      Vegas II, I beieve you found the wrong comments section. This is the Fly’s most generous allotment of space to the subject of tea, and its gentlemanly consumption.

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      • Vegas Trader II

        We are in extremely troubling times at the moment, I just didn’t want anyone to get distracted and forget..(which is exactly what “they” want.) My apologies, carry on..

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  6. Mr. Cain Thaler

    Obviously Mr. Orwell was a fan exclusively of the black variety of tea. His advice of using only boiling water would burn any of the lighter varieties, and should be dismissed if that is what you are making.

    However, one might question, if you are not drinking black tea, why are you consuming lawn clippings?

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  7. ?

    Many believe that English Tea Methods are the Box Wine of the tea world.

    Others are more forgiving.

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  8. Yogi & Boo Boo

    Nice. It’s good to be back in civilized society.

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  9. MetalLeg

    To think that just yesterday, I ordered two canisters of tea from the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf without having the benefit of Orwell’s genius. I wasted my hard earned money.

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  10. Juice

    Is Mr Orwell a relation of Monsieur le Fly?

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  11. Matt

    Still prefer a good Martini personally!, although some Tazo relax tea is in order given the market conditions!

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  12. Sia

    He mentions that putting sugar in tea is wrong and you might as well put salt. But right before, he talked about how to correctly put milk in tea. If you put milk in your tea, you might as well put sugar. Haha. What a tool.

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    • Dr Fly

      that’s disingenuous. Milk has a neutral taste and is not considered a sweetener, you tool.

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      • Reader

        Hmm, if he was merely disingenuous he’s be knowledgeable and pretending to be innocent.

        Instead he seems utterly ignorant of milk’s content, including the proteins and amino acids that interact with hot tannins in a [to me] most pleasing way. Milk is not only nutritious, in a way that sugared water is not, but useful for the proper imbibing of tea.

        Addendum: my morning preference is Twining’s Irish Breakfast but I recognize it does not titillate the palate of all.

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      • sspiff

        Some research sugguests that the milk in tea (the milk proteins bind with some of the tannins in the tea) reduces the incidence of throat cancer. Others say that it reduces the health benefits. I do like a but with earl gray or english breakfast (loose leaf, of course).

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      • kilroy

        Fly and Mr. Orwell are spot on.

        While I do prefer tea with sugar, it is only a mild difference without it – and tea can definitely be enjoyed without sugar.

        Tea without milk (unless we are talking about Chinese tea as Orwell differentiates) however, is uncivilized, IMO.

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  13. drummerboy

    scrambled eggs and tea every morning for breakfast before school as a child,mom always gave us tea.

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    • flyaway18

      Nice mom, Drummer.
      We only drank tea when we were sick. My parents drank instant coffee, Maxwell House. I tasted it once and could not understand why anyone would drink that particlar brand, but I guess that’s what some folks liked in the 1960s. Now my mom drinks a nice cup of Barney’s coffee freshly brewed by my brother-in-law and boy is it good.

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  14. Raise Taxes, Cut Spending
    Raise Taxes, Cut Spending

    I am mostly in agreement.

    The most important point is the quality of the tea. 99% of the orange pekoe tea you buy is complete crap. Buying decent tea is vital. We have found that Twinings is the only major tea company that makes good tea.

    Pre-warming the pot is over-rated as it doesn’t make any difference to the taste. Just make sure you use a good tea cosy so the tea stays hot as it steeps.

    Milk should ALWAYS be put in the cup first, then add the tea. This slowly brings the milk up to temperature. Adding milk after the tea is poured cooks the milk as it gets too hot.

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  15. jt

    Ok, thanks.

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  16. Blind Read Ant

    Silk, babes, tea and Hopium.

    And the beast went east.

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  17. madcat

    Weak tea = Pipi de chat

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  18. pitbull

    Since July, public companies are spending about $2 billion every day to shrink the trading flow to shares on balance. Where did they get this money from? Since 2009 companies have sold about $3 trillion in bonds and about 800 billion of new shares. Companies are currently the only buyers of stocks as individuals remain net sellers.

    Money Flows Confirms Bad Timing

    A look at money flows confirms the generally bad timing of individual investors

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  19. uncle har

    The Fly writes better, plus more subtilized.

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  20. snausages2000

    Chairman Fly,
    Kamwo on Grand St in Little Italy has a good selection of loose tealeaves if you’re ever in the area. They’re also a “pharmacist,” selling medicinal herb concoctions that have made friends of mine puke. So, stick to the tea.

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  21. J. Livermore

    Awe Fuck, I’ve been drinking the Chinese shit.

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  22. Vegas Trader II

    Who was the syndicated speculator that Fly posted(video)here a couple weeks back? The one with back hair and a bald spot on top, with 20 cups of tea in him..

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  23. razorsedge

    bot gld, 1/3 pos…nuf said

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  24. Half Blood Pope

    I have never been one for drinking hot liquids. I like my red wine cold and never drink coffee or tea. Anything other than a cold beverage has always tasted wrong to me.

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    • flyaway18

      You mustn’t be much of a soup guy then or do you like that cold as well?

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      • Half Blood Pope

        Only cheddar broccoli soup or some other cream based soup. Has to have some substance to it. I make a pretty mean panera cheddar broccoli knock-off.

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      • mahkbert

        Flyaway have you ever tried chicken noodle soup with grated parmesan cheese?

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  25. razorsedge

    total port, rest cash..

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  26. affluenzavirus

    I like coffee. But, it’s probably because I am a serial killer.

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  27. flyaway18

    I concur with Orwell on one main point, and that is, tea should be drunk bitter, like beer. Like Guinness or O’Hara’s of Young’s Double chocolate stout. As an aise, if I could wish (and acquire)anything material in the world, it would be one of those espresso-making machines that they have in all the cafes in the North End of Boston. I’d have a nice cup of espresso every morning.

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  28. Frog Playing a Colorful Accordion
    Frog Playing a Colorful Accordion

    That was interesting– Orwell’s view on tea. Like investing advice or any other kind, it is up to us all to try it on in relation to our own tastes. I like tea without either sugar or milk myself.

    De gustibus non est disputandum

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_gustibus_non_est_disputandum

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  29. spoiledsquid

    Orwell, if he were alive and about 21 years old, would be in some tent in some glamorous park protesting about something about which he was uncertain. I make my tea in 5 steps. Carry on.

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    • Calgary G

      You are thoroughly correct,Sir. Eric Blair was a “democratic socialist”, with a highly developed sense of social justice.

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    • SUBCOMANDANTE CHINCHILLLLLA!!!
      SUBCOMANDANTE CHINCHILLLLLA!!!

      Orwell was highly certain of most things – indeud, his essay on tea is but one piece of evidence. Read his Down and Out in London and Paris and you KNOW he would shit on these OWS types.

      The only reason he would enter those tents would be to throttle their inhabitants – and if those losers were lucky, he would tell them stories from the Spanish civil war.

      And if they listened, they would follow him as he marched on DC – 10 million strong by the time they hit K Street.

      Congress would resign en masse, and then Orwell would retire to a good drop of the Earl – the most certain brew there is…

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  30. fake amish

    drugs are good for you. never really thought of tea that way. you can chase a rail with it, right?

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  31. Goldie

    I’ll stick with coffee. Heavy cream no sugar.

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  32. Traderconfessions

    My butler prepares tea for me each morning. Quite delightful.

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  33. dave

    This talk is rubbish. When you are drunk and seeing double, close one eye.

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  34. Jg

    lol. just gave the husb. a lecture about bringing the pot to the kettle today.

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  35. The Butler

    quite delightful indeed..

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  36. ottnott

    Twelfthly, while you are mucking about over the first 11 points, your toast can get properly cold so that the butter knife makes that dreadful scritchy noise as it ineffectually pushes congealed milkfat along the surface.

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    • Dirk Diggler

      Correctly timing your toast to coincide with your tea is paramount to the experience.

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  37. ruggyup

    Can’t help wondering if Orwell were writing today he would advise putting the Keurig on the hob for a bit before brewing. My butler tells me too much tea gives one teeth like an Englishman(woman).

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  38. Trader Joe

    Tea also has a cleansing effect on the lower intestine. The civilized way to take tea is to inject it straight up the ass with a hot enema pack.

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    • SUBCOMANDANTE CHINCHINILLA!!!
      SUBCOMANDANTE CHINCHINILLA!!!

      I also do deliveries within a five mile radius.

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    • ruggyup

      For that you need to be toasted before calling Comrade Chincgbug for a five mile delivery.

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  39. Mrs. Peabody

    I carry tea leaves in my little snuff box and use just a pinch between my cheek and gum – superb.

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  40. gumby

    Cattle& Tea?
    If you have any doubts as to why these livestock markets are seemingly reaching for the clouds in pricing recent fundamental data should answer your questions. In almost every month since USDA started making 2012 meat projections, they have tightened supply. Per capita supply takes production, adjusts for changes in imports, exports, and stocks and divides by population. This is the measure of supply that meat analysts begin making price projections. The total amount of meat that the US consumer will see next year will be the lowest since 1984!.

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  41. Belly of the Beast
    Belly of the Beast

    I prefer to take larger sips from a rock glass of JD; poured 3 fingers at a time; numerous times.

    Proper etiqutte is the 1.75 litre bottle, (.75 litre is a waste of funds) being placed to the left (Northwest), of the set. Rock glass and wide mouthed soda glass in front of myself. Preferably the glasses have been washed and dried within the previous 24 hours, but not less than 5 hours.
    Remote controls and ash tray Northeast of the set. Cigarettes and lighter to the immediate right of the soda glass. This is a must in all of Northern Brooklyn, even East as far as Woodhaven. Napkins to the Left of the set.

    The soda is kept in the refrigerator amidst pourings, several fingers at a time. The positioning of the soda in the refrigerator is important; there should be ample space from things that might fall over.

    My personal taste swings to Diet A&W Root Beer (Atkins Diet, you know), but the choice is yours really, just don’t embarass the host by chasing with milk, juice, or any kind of Fresca or Tab, that’s just stupid.
    Mug Diet Root Beer kind of blows, too.

    Food of the greasy variety is to be consumed afterwards; never before. The set can be moved North of the table if necessary.

    Hope to be of assistance; a home movie to leave you with:

    http://youtu.be/HouuW2NJvlY

    .

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  42. JT

    http://www.teavana.com/tea-info/new-to-tea

    no position in $TEA

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    • Trading_Nymph

      Buyers came in the first time on that key 22 level, but so far that support is looking very weak. Lazy Americans don’t bother to make proper tea…it has to be in a KCup

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