There's nothing like a nice cup of tea - Well, when it's made properly that is!
Recently, I have been astounded by the number of people who can't do something as simple as making a cup of tea. I regularly turn down a cup of tea at work when certain people offer to make me one. There would be no point in them bothering as I just couldn't drink it. I really don't know how they manage to brew up such a vile tasting beverage.
There's nothing to it really. First of all you need to make sure you have some good quality teabags. I prefer Ringtons, although Yorkshire Tea will do if I run out and need to get some from a shop. Then, put one teabag in a cup or mug of your choice. Boil a kettle of water - and this is the crucial part - pour the water onto the teabag while it is still boiling. If it is even so much as a few seconds off the boil it will not brew the tea properly. Leave it to brew for atleast five minutes. When other people make me a cup of tea, I often have a fresh cup on my desk within a couple of minutes of my empty cup being taken away to be replenished. A good cup of tea takes time. It can't be rushed. Then, after the tea has brewed for atleast five minutes, remove the teabag and add milk and sugar to your requirements. Never put milk in the cup first as this prevents the tea brewing properly as it cools the water. If making a round of drinks, never stir a non-sugar cup of tea with a spoon which has just stirred sugar into another cup. This also renders the tea undrinkable as even the tiniest remnant of sugar can be tasted. Likewise, if you are making a mixed round of tea and coffee, never stir tea with the same spoon as you have just stirred coffee.
For those of you who aren't stereotypical British or Irish tea connoisseurs, you may not understand how important a skill making a cup of tea is. A cup of tea is a much looked forward to event and it has to "hit the spot". This can cause problems when travelling abroad. Many a time, my husband and I have tried to explain how we would like our tea to be made. An otherwise perfect hotel near Maranello, Italy, spoilt itself by it's lack of tea-making abilities. My husband explained that he would like them to put the teabags in the pot and then pour on the water while it was boiling before bringing the teapot to him with the teabags still in there, brewing. Could they manage this? No. They brought a teapot containing hot water and teabags separately.
My most recent international tea incident was at a McDonalds in France. We had gone to France for five days and in the last-minute rush to pack (as always!) we had somehow managed to forget a pack of Ringtons tea. My husband cannot survive without tea. I suggested that McDonalds would have tea and although they wouldn't make it properly because they never use boiling water, it would be better than no tea at all. Well, what a fiasco! I asked for "Thé". They gave me a fruit infusion. I said "Non, thé" and they then gave me a bottle of Lipton Ice. So I said "NON. THÉ NOIR!! CHAUD, S.V.P!" As you can tell, I was running out of patience! I was finally handed an English breakfast tea teabag. Result, I thought. But no. I took it to my husband who was waiting patiently with a, now, luke warm cup of water. He opened it but it had got damp and then dried out and was stuck to the inside of the packet. We gave up and left, going back to the hotel to brew up a teabag off the courtesy tray. And amazingly, we had actually been provided with a kettle in our hotel room - something which is usually lacking in foreign hotels. Hats off to the Best Western in Hardelot-Plage!
So, there we go. Just had to let off some tea making steam.
Footnote: I realise that some non-Brits can make tea properly and for those of you that can, I am in full admiration of you and you are a credit to your country! And maybe you could teach my colleagues something :-)