A Few Thoughts from Aunt Doris: How to Make the Perfect Cup of Tea

This is another post in an occasional series from my dear nonagenarian Aunt Doris.


Aunt Doris

We English do love a good cup of tea (or, as we like to say, a cuppa)!

I’m not talking about that panther pee they serve in most restaurants here in the States. You know — a thick cup with a tea bag on the side! Oh, no!

Here’s how to make a perfect cup of tea:

First off, the tea must be served in a nice thin china cup, not a mug.

Then, you put the teabag in the cup and poor fiercely boiling water over it. (That’s the secret. Let that kettle shriek!)

Let the tea bag stay in the boiling water for a few seconds. You can tell when the tea is ready by its rich color.

Next, add a dash of milk — not cream — and sugar to taste, and you’ve got a cuppa fit for the Queen!

My mom used to say a good cup of tea would cure a broken leg. I know I’d take a good cup of tea over an aspirin any day.

As for me, my idea of a good snack is a cuppa and a Kit Kat bar (which, by the way, was created in England).

Uh oh! The kettle’s boiling … got to go!

Aunt Doris


  1. 1

    tracee says

    hahaha panther pee!!! that’s great. i just had my first cup of “proper” tea at an english tea house about a year ago and i have to agree there is a huge difference.
    although being from the south i still think sweet iced tea is the best thing ever….. 😉

  2. 3


    I make a pot, but still use a mug. Those real china cups are just too small and my wife won’t let me take ’em to work anyway.

    I’m from the south too, but I like my hot tea plain, no sugar, no milk…I do like my iced tea sweetened, but only slightly. Don’t ask me why.

  3. 4


    I always wanted to try a real English tea but milk in tea scares me. I guess it is a matter of taste. My Russian grandmother would put sugar in a black tea but never milk. Some of my Russian friends would add milk. I love my tea plain. Great post by the way. :-)

  4. 5


    Being Bulgarian in England is not easy; when people like me they offer me tea. All I can think of saying is ‘No thanks, I am not poorly.’ Bulgarians drink tea only when poorly, you see, otherwise we have coffee. Talking of which, coffee in the US is not very good either.

    My English husband, though, always insists on brewing tea in a tea pot (with boiling water) and then pour milk first. Apparently this is ‘proper’ and there is a difference in taste.

  5. 7

    Millie says

    Whilst I love your aunt’s posts, if she served a tea that had only been brewed for a few seconds in my office (I’m English) she’d get sent straight back to the U.S! I live in the Midlands and we like our tea like Northerners – dark and strong enough to melt a spoon in. Your aunt must be from the south (of England, not the U.S!). I like my tea brewed for at least 2 or 3 mins, then you get all the tea flavour. Yum yum.

    • 8

      Len Penzo says

      You are correct, Millie. Aunt Doris is from Kensington.

      And if you tried to send her “back to the US” because of her tea, I’m sure she wouldn’t take offense — she’d just smile and give you a two-fingered salute. 😉

  6. 9

    TM says

    Hey Len,
    No offense to your Aunt Doris or the Brits, but Indians make the best tea, hands down. If you only put a bag in for a few seconds, there is no way you’re going to get a rich, flavorful tea. It’s just not possible. Take strong black tea (Tetley makes a very good one called British Blend) and boil with water and cardamom. Once it’s been boiling for a few minutes, add milk, preferably whole or evaporated milk or a combo of the two. Boil some more until it is thick and creamy. Add sugar to taste. Strain out the tea bags and serve. Better yet, use loose leaf tea and save money because it is cheaper!.

    • 10

      Len Penzo says

      Yes, I’ll have to ask Aunt Doris to clarify what she meant by “a few” seconds. I’ve watched her make tea before and it seems to me her tea bag sits in the cup for longer than that.

      Personally, I don’t like tea. At all. LOL!

  7. 12

    Janet says

    Aunt Doris is spot on about the thin china tea cups….even better… is a whole pot of tea …porcelain china teapot of course. First heat the teapot by pouring in very hot water…then empty out so you can refill with teabags (or loose tea) and extremely hot (just reached a boil) water. Right again, Aunt Doris. then steep tea for several minutes. Pour a little milk into your teacup first, then pour in tea. Sugar..none or very little. Make sure your teapot has a hand- crocheted “tea cozy” to keep your tea piping hot..for the second cuppa. This is the Irish/Scottish Canadian angle on making a proper cuppa.


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