11 of the worst crimes against tea

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Hot drinks seem to inspire passion in most of us. While the obsession with good coffee is fairly well documented (on Eat Out, especially), the topic of tea snobbery has largely been left untapped.

I would wager the reason is that while most coffee drinkers agree on what constitutes a good brew, the discerning tea drinker might not have any criteria in common with his fellow fan.

(The other day my brother proclaimed that he can’t even taste the difference between long-life and fresh milk in tea, so what hope do we even have?)


To make a perfect cup of tea for me, you need one bag of Ceylon tea (I like Lipton Yellow Label with the fancy tag or Twinings Earl Grey) and boiling hot water (not luke warm from the office urn – ugh). Add a flat-ish spoon of sugar (raw golden-brown sugar, not the bleached-with-bone-char kind) and, once the tea has drawn for about two minutes, ease the bag gently from the cup – no squeezing! – and then add a glug of full-fat milk. Stir to dissolve the remaining sugar and ting the spoon on the rim of the cup just for the hell of it. I prefer a tall mug to a short one, with a commodious handle and a thin rim. Bonus points if there’s some curviness to the cup to encourage cradling in the hand while wearing a soft, grey jersey like they do on Pinterest.

Are you raging right now about how it’s sacrilegious not to prefer that loose-leaf tea and strainer malarkey and that you should absolutely pour the milk into the china teacup first? I thought so; and you’ve just proved my point that none of us agree on the perfect cup of tea.

I think we can all concur, however, about the worst crimes against – forgive me – humani-tea. They are:

1. The wrong tea

If I wanted rooibos I would have asked for it, dammit.

2. Too weak


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3. Too strong

So bitter! It burns us!  

4. Too much sugar


5. Not enough sugar

Not as bad as the alternative. You can at least remedy this situation.  


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6. Too much milk

What is this? White water?

7. Not enough milk

Can be salvaged if you have the gall to ask for another splash.

8. The wrong milk

This might be the worst transgression. I abhor the thin, rubbery feeling of low-fat on the tongue, while others can’t stand the slick residue left by full-fat. But don’t even bring that long-life nonsense near any of us.

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9. The wrong receptacle

Plastic, chunky lip, no handle. Just incorrect.  

10. Stirred with a coffee spoon

A fireable offence.  

11. Not enough accompanying biscuits

It’s okay, you can make up for it next time. At the end of the day – or the beginning of one – the best cup of tea is the one made for you by someone you love. (Thanks, mom!)  


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