There are lots of opinions to be had about the proper way to make the perfect cup. In fact, George Orwell wrote an entire essay on the subject in 1946. When he looked for his own recipe for the perfect cup of tea, he found no fewer than eleven outstanding points, every one of which he regards as golden:
- One should use Indian or Ceylonese tea. China tea has virtues which are not to be despised nowadays — one can drink it without milk.
- Tea should be made in small quantities — that is, in a teapot. Tea out of an urn is always tasteless.
- 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.
- The tea should be strong.
- The tea should be put straight into the pot. No strainers, muslin bags or other devices to imprison the tea.
- 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.
- After making the tea, one should stir it, or better, give the pot a good shake, afterwards allowing the leaves to settle.
- One should drink out of a good breakfast cup
- One should pour the cream off the milk before using it for tea. Milk that is too creamy always gives tea a sickly taste.
- One should pour tea into the cup first. 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. 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.
Source: The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell, Volume 3, 1943-45