How do you make a splendid cup of tea?
March 30, 2016 1:49 PM   Subscribe

As an Englishman, I am familiar with how some of my fellow Anglo-Saxon brethren make a cup of tea. Some make a pot of tea and decant when appropriate, and the rest, for speed, laziness or an unappreciation of our noble drink, use a teabag in a mug. But, apart from a few of our distant cousins, I remain ignorant as to how Americans, Canadians and others across the waters typically make tea (as in the hot drink made from the conjunction of tea leaves and hot water). If applicable, how do you? Are there unique variations in procedure pertaining to your locale?

Avoiding reference to any unfortunate historical incidents which may influence either the perception, process or consumption of tea, questions include:
- Type of kettle - electric, hob, whistle or silent, other?
- Apparatus, such as cup/mug, saucer, sugar tongs, tea cosy, pot, other?
- Do you make a pot of tea, or a cup/mug?
- Tea bags, or loose leaf?
- Naked, milk, or lemon?
- Milk, or tea, in the cup first (caution: this can form the basis of heated and feudal division)?
- Accompaniment - nothing, biscuit, cake, muffin, scone or other?
posted by Wordshore to Food & Drink (92 answers total) 41 users marked this as a favorite
I'm the laziest form of hot tea maker. I nuke a coffee cup's worth of water until it's right under boiling, then I plop a tea bag into it. Drink it after a couple of minutes, no milk or sugar.
posted by heathrowga at 1:54 PM on March 30, 2016 [2 favorites]

Based on my observations in the workplace in Alaska:

Kettle: either an instant-hot provided in the break room, or heating up water in microwave.
Apparatus: cup or mug
Quantity: by the cup
Steeping: probably 90% bags, 10% loose leaf
Additions: really depends on the type of tea - mostly naked, mayyybe some sugar and cream
Order of additions: after, especially when microwaving the cup for hot water
Accompaniment: nothing
posted by rhapsodie at 1:55 PM on March 30, 2016 [2 favorites]

I make my tea exactly how I like it, after 41 years of careful experimentation.

Type of kettle: Electric
Apparatus: Tea strainer that fits perfectly in my...
Trusty stainless travel mug
Loose "leaf" (it's not leaves, it's Indian dust tea mixed with my own blend of whole spices: cardamom, black pepper, fennel, cinnamon stick, dried ginger)
Half-and-half (here in the US, our whole milk is pretty anemic--to get the creaminess I crave, I need what is known as half-and-half or coffee cream, which is half whole milk, half full cream), and lots of it, and also ALL THE SUGAR
Sugar in first, then pour hot water over tea strainer with leaf/spices, steep, remove strainer, stir, add cream.
Accompaniment: breakfast
posted by soren_lorensen at 1:56 PM on March 30, 2016 [6 favorites]

Ooooh I can go +1 lazier: I use the keurig to heat the water in less than a minute, and run the water through without a keurig cup, directly into an awaiting mug with a bag of fennel tea. Fancy stuff.
posted by Dressed to Kill at 1:56 PM on March 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

NorteAmericano here.

-Stovetop whistle
-Cheers mug
-see above.
-Loose leaf, leaves strained out.
-naked, now that my stomach hates milk. Before, with milk, added first.
posted by aspersioncast at 1:59 PM on March 30, 2016

I put the milk/cream in first because I like watching the horrified looks on people's faces pouring the water in on top of it agitates everything enough to give it a decent stir and I really hate to dirty a spoon. Why wash more dishes than I absolutely have to?
posted by phunniemee at 1:59 PM on March 30, 2016 [9 favorites]

here in chile it seems to be traditional (at least, my mother-in-law does it this way) to brew something horrendously strong in a small teapot with a large pile of leaves and then use that as a concentrate that is mixed (later) with hot water before drinking. also (and this was maybe 20 years ago - i think things have changed now) i once ordered a "milk tea" which was not tea with milk added, but tea made only with milk (no water). this was a normal item on a cafe menu.

(a friend of my partner owns the first specialist tea shop in santiago and once came round to give us a tea tasting. that included green, red and black teas, and each one had its own procedure, which i can't remember any more).

oh, and there's a concept of "elevenses" (onces) which (confusingly) is a light tea in the afternoon. that's when you're most likely to drink tea. and eat bread with mashed avocado, ham, cheese, etc.
posted by andrewcooke at 2:00 PM on March 30, 2016 [2 favorites]

Canadian (and drinker of copious amounts of tea) here.

1. cheapest cordless electric kettle possible
2. um, a cup? what else do you need?
3. again, a cup.
4. tea bags for routine daily use, loose leaf for the fancy kinds if I'm feeling ambitious
5. milk (and if possible, a bit of honey)
6. tea first!! and I'm surprised and a little horrified at the suggestion of milk first.
7. cup of tea is all you need, but as I'm the snacking type, it does tend to be accompanied by some kind of snack (many different ones)

possibly unique variant: I leave my teabag in the whole time, partly because I'm a lazy tea-heathen but also because I like very strong tea but I'm impatient.
posted by randomnity at 2:04 PM on March 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

Canadian tea drinker here.

At work, I use an electric kettle. I make it in my mug. I pre-heat the mug with hot water from the coffee machine, then dump it when the boiling water from the kettle is ready. My current tea of choice is a decaffeinated Orange Pekoe, loose leaf. I used to use a fancy shaped tea-ball, but now I use disposable cotton paper bags because it seems a little less precious. Light cream and a little less than half a packet of raw sugar.

At home, I use an electric kettle (no whistle, because why do I want something in my house that yells at me?). Sometimes I make it in a mug, but more often in a teapot. Pre-heat with boiling water from the kettle. Same tea, predominantly, but in a fancy tea-ball because I can be as precious as I want in my own home. If I'm digging in for a long bout of work and don't want to give it any further thought, I'll add milk (I hardly ever have cream at home) and honey right in the pot. Then I top it with a tea cosy. I used to use fancy china tea cups, but now I just use a workaday white mug.

Milk/cream and sweetener in after the tea because how can you tell how much to put if you can't see it change colour?
posted by looli at 2:04 PM on March 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

Are there unique variations in procedure pertaining to your locale?

In The (blazing hot) Deep South where I was born and raised, most tea is served cold, as iced tea. This is a local art form in its own way. I don't typically make iced tea, though I do sometimes drink it (I am a heathen and occasionally buy the bottled stuff). If you are interested in hearing about cold tea as well, I imagine there are plenty of Southerners here who would be happy to wax eloquent about the practice.
posted by Michele in California at 2:05 PM on March 30, 2016 [3 favorites]

I work at home, so sometimes I make a cup of matcha, which is its own process. No additions to the tea, but sometimes a cookie on the side is nice.

Other times, I make some pu-erh, which means that I heat up water on the stove using one of those Japanese hipster gooseneck kettles. Once it's hot, I break off a piece of the tea cake, rinse it with a little hot water, put it in a metal strainer and put the strainer in a teapot. I pour the hot water over the pu-erh and let it steep indefinitely. The pu-erh gets better as it gets stronger, and you can get multiple brews from the same batch. Nothing goes into pu-erh, so as to spoil its delicious mushroomy/earthy/feetsy taste.
posted by Atrahasis at 2:07 PM on March 30, 2016

Disclaimer: I drink a lot of tea.

NYC resident

Kettle: hot water tap on water cooler
Apparatus: 1.5L giant orange teapot
Quantity: 1.5L (48oz)
Steeping: 100% loose leaf (but I put into my own bags for ease of disposal)
Additions: none
Order of additions: splash of hot water in teapot to warm it, homemade teabag of tea chucked in, teapot filled with hot water from tap
Accompaniment: nothing

Kettle: 90% of the time electric kettle, 10% of the time kettle on stovetop (hob?)
Apparatus: 2cup pyrex cup OR if I have guests or a lot of lounging about to do, a proper teapot.
Quantity: either 2c (measuring cup), or 4cup(if teapot)
Steeping: 100% loose leaf just chucked in, usually much better quality than the work tea. I strain the tea into a teacup (not a mug)
Additions: none
Order of additions: tea into pot/measuring cup, top off with hot water
Accompaniment: whatever is lying about that is properly snacky.

I have been known to be significantly less classy, and put a teabag into a mug, fill with water and then microwave it. This method is only used in dire circumstances with bottom quality tea. This is an emergency method for hangovers or staying at the home of a heathen who only drinks coffee.

Oh, and I do drink both hot and iced tea in the summer. For iced tea, I either get the lipton iced tea powder (which is awesome in a terrible way) OR make Sun Tea.
posted by larthegreat at 2:07 PM on March 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

Canadian tea drinker living in the American South. Traditionally I plop a bag of tea into a mug and pour boiling water from a kettle over it. Recently we got a Kourig and I have a stainless steel contraption that fits inside it, so I use that with loose tea instead now. A little honey added to my Kenyan tea (which is similar to English breakfast), and a little milk added to my Red Rose orange pekoe tea.
posted by joannemerriam at 2:07 PM on March 30, 2016

Oh, and the matcha goes into a special tea bowl, while pu-erh gets a western teacup. That matches the teapot. Also, I am an American living in CA.
posted by Atrahasis at 2:07 PM on March 30, 2016

Canadian of Irish & English descent here.

At home:

- electric kettle
- depending on how lazy I feel & what kind of tea I feel like, either a bag or loose tea in a basket-type infuser.
- This teapot
- milk if it's black tea, very rarely sugar. Never lemon.
- a truly excellent tea cosy my sister made for me

At work:

- hot water dispenser that is almost but not quite hot enough
- large mug
- twinnings early grey, bagged
- milk
posted by quaking fajita at 2:07 PM on March 30, 2016

Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

At work, I use a tea bag (Bigelow's English Breakfast) and the hot water spigot on the break room coffee machine. Tea goes in first. It is pretty lousy tea. No milk, cream, or sugar. I use a disposable paper cup. I don't eat anything with the tea. I have one cup first thing in the morning and then usually 2-3 more throughout the day.

At home, I boil water in an electric kettle, use loose tea (Darjeeling, Yunnan province, or Earl Grey), and steep in a small pot (2-3 cups) that has a built-in strainer thing. The tea goes in first. I drink it in a mug. No milk, cream, or sugar. I don't eat anything with the tea.

I have a nice tea pot and a couple cozies, but don't usually use them.

If our Russian friends come over, then we make a pot of concentrated tea, have hot water, and serve cookies and candies. (After one such incident my wife was told that she is the only American with a real sense of hospitality.)

When I was kid, the only tea I remember was sun tea. My mom had a big glass sun tea jar/pitcher she'd put out on the lawn and the tea would steep in the sun.
posted by Alluring Mouthbreather at 2:10 PM on March 30, 2016 [2 favorites]

oh my second item was "HOME" not work again and I didn't know electric kettles existed until my college roommate showed up with one. prior to that it was just hot water from a pot on the stove.
posted by larthegreat at 2:17 PM on March 30, 2016

Midwestern American (Minnesota, specifically) here. In winter:
--electric kettle
--this tea strainer thing, usually in a mug, sometimes in a teapot
--typically the mug I use is a 15 oz. one
--50/50 loose tea/bagged tea (Yorkshire Gold loose, bagged chai if I'm in the mood for it)
--sweetened condensed milk, added after the tea brews, plus a hefty bit of sweetener
--no accompaniments; tea first, then breakfast

In the summer:
cold-brewed iced tea, usually just a basic "cold brew" bagged tea, sometimes with additions of flavored bagged tea or mint or lemon. Always sweetened in the glass with artificial sweetener.

Exception: If I want green tea/jasmine tea/genmaicha, I brew it in a knock-off Japanese cast iron teapot that came with its own strainer.
posted by Janta at 2:17 PM on March 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

Atlantic Canada
My preferred method of making tea:

- electric kettle. Water must be at a roiling boil.
- Teapot!
- Two teabags of orange pekoe, preferably Red Rose.
- Pour water on teabags, stick tea cozy on the teapot, and let it steep for five minutes or until the tea is black and bitter.
- I drink mine with milk and a little sugar. Evaporated milk and cream are also acceptable. My Nan preferred evaporated milk.
posted by Stonkle at 2:21 PM on March 30, 2016

American Pittsburgh:

- Copper kettle on the gas stove, electric kettles are too slow in the US.
- Blue teapot
- Loose tea, usually four teaspoons
- Steep for four minutes
- Drink it black (well red).
- A Clif bar sometimes.
posted by octothorpe at 2:25 PM on March 30, 2016


- Type of kettle: electric
- Apparatus: cup or mug
- Tea bag (some type of organic black tea or spearmint--I used to drink all types but now I can't be bothered)
- Naked, or maybe a little sugar or honey
- I only use milk if I'm making chai
- Accompaniment: Yes, I almost always have something but it can be almost anything. Toast, dates and nuts, crackers with butter or cheese, apple and cheddar, bit of chocolate, etc.
posted by HotToddy at 2:30 PM on March 30, 2016

Canada here

-stovetop kettle, the whistling kind
-teapot if there's more than just me drinking it, mug if it's just me.
-Teabags usually; usually earl grey at our house. Sometimes we have tisanes in case we're sick and need hot beverages that won't keep us awake.
-usually no milk or sugar. Might do milk and sugar if it's chai or something. For the tisanes when we're ill? Hoo boy, hold on to your hat. Usually pour about a third of the mug worth of orange juice. Add some grated ginger and a sprinkle of cayenne pepper. Pour in hot water til its full and add teabag. let it sit a bit, stir, and drink. Goodbye congestion!
-accompaniment? Whatever I feel like. Nothing in the fridge or cupboard is set aside specifically for tea in my house.

probably the biggest difference is how rarely we drink tea. maybe 5% of our hot beverages are tea. The rest is coffee.
posted by Hoopo at 2:30 PM on March 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


Electric kettle.

Loose leaf Yorkshire (unless I'm feeling fancy) in a Finum tea strainer, or teabags if that's all I've got.

Heath mug.

Milk last, even if I do make a pot, because otherwise I wouldn't know how much milk I've put in.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 2:35 PM on March 30, 2016

american (specifically californian)

- electric kettle
- mug (we have so many mugs. i have a problem)
- loose-leaf tea in one of those paper tea bags you can buy in bulk
- lots of milk (ideally half-and-half) if it's english breakfast
- lemon and honey in anything else, if i'm sick, or just plain

- hot water dispenser thingie
- my desert-themed mug with a cactus on one side, roadrunner on the other
- that crappy mango black tea from TJs (i'm practically addicted to this stuff, even though it kind of makes my mouth hurt and isn't good tea by any means) or yerba mate tea bags, plain
- english breakfast tea bags with milk
posted by burgerrr at 2:36 PM on March 30, 2016


Mug + water + microwave.
Add tea bag, wait a couple of minutes.
1/2 tsp sugar, stir, discard bag.

Currently I use Tetley British Blend up to and including lunch. Salada decaf after lunch.
posted by SemiSalt at 2:36 PM on March 30, 2016

American of Irish descent. A brief survey of my family's tea-drinking habits:

Father (lives in Pennsylvania)
- electric kettle, mug, Barry's teabags. Drinks it black.

Mother (child of Irish immigrants, lives in Pennsylvania):
- electric kettle, mug, Tetley's, milk and a little sugar. She warms the milk while the water is boiling.

Sister (lives in Australia):
- electric kettle, mug, PG Tips?, not sure about milk or sugar.

Older brother (lives in Pennsylvania):
- electric kettle, mug, Barry's, black and very well-steeped, except on Special Days, when it's doctor with truly gross amounts of sugar. Consumed steadily throughout the course of the day. He's mostly powered by tea.

Me (lives in Pennsylvania):
- old-fashioned kettle, mug, green or herbal tea, weak, allowed to cool to lukewarm. No sugar or milk ever. On weekends, I make pots of tea with loose Earl Grey (swishing the pot with hot water before pouring the water for tea) and drink it in tiny tea cups.

I don't think any of us have a snack to go with it, unless it's a post-work tea or mid-day tea on the weekend, in which case we'll have some biscotti or some cheese and crackers.
posted by punchtothehead at 2:37 PM on March 30, 2016

Texas American.

I use an electric kettle, and brew the tea in a pot. Usually it's the loose leaf good stuff, but I will not turn my nose up at an occasional bag of Constant Comment for nostalgia's sake. Only rarely will I take milk and honey, and that's only if I'm having black tea, pouring the milk in first. Accompaniments are not necessary, but usually happen when I've made a pot for leisurely sipping in the evening. Tea snacks are simple, usually fruit or a simple cookie or cheese and crackers.
posted by pogo at 2:39 PM on March 30, 2016

New Yorker:

For breakfast:
- An electric kettle, boiling water.
- A Chatsford teapot, with a basket.
- Right before the water comes to a boil, I use some of the water from the kettle to pre-heat the teapot, which is absolutely mandatory for a proper cup of tea.
- Four teaspoons of a selection of black teas that I order from Upton Teas.
- Currently, my selections are Pu-Ehr and Nilgiri
- I scrupulously follow the directions supplied by Upton for each tea. 3 minutes for the Nilgiri, 6 minutes for the Pu-Ehr.

At work:
- The water dispenser at work heats water to about 180° F, which is kind of sort of the correct temperature for Oolong.
- A store near me imports these tea bags from Japan. They are absolutely genius. You unfold them and they sit open on the table by themselves, so that you can scoop tea into them without needing an extra set of hands. The Japanese are so far ahead of the Western world with their paper-folding technology.
- I re-steep the same teabag of Oolong several times throughout the day. Oolong is well-suited for resteeping, but most of the caffeine is gone after the first steeping, so I don't take in any caffeine late in the day when it could interfere with my sleep at night.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 2:40 PM on March 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'm an American of Japanese descent. I have both an adjustable electric kettle and a dedicated Zojirushi hot water dispenser which I love to a distracting degree and a sizable selection of not especially interesting teas and tisanes.

The temperature of the water varies depending on what kind of tea I am making, but generally I don't get too fancy and just stick with roiling boil for black teas, and slightly less than that for green.

Teabag in a mug is my lazy and second most frequent option (cup of hot water being the first), but I also have a fair bit of loose leaf tea that I will either brew by directly throwing a couple tablespoons/small handful into a conventional ceramic teapot or using my cheap Ikea glass teapot with a basket infuser and adding water.

Because I am lazy and mostly just want something warm to sip, I will often keep adding hot water to the same leaves over and over again until it's little more than slightly tinged water. I almost never do sugar or milk unless making chai. If I'm sick, I might add honey/ginger/lemon to tisanes.
posted by Diagonalize at 2:41 PM on March 30, 2016 [2 favorites]

London Fog (previously on the blue) is a tea drink that is commonly found in the cafes and tea shops here in Vancouver, where the recipe was possibly invented. It's not the typical style of tea consumption and I don't know anyone who makes it themselves.

The many Hong Kong-style cafes here also serve Hong Kong tea, which is hot black tea with condensed or evaporated milk and usually sweetened.
posted by praiseb at 2:41 PM on March 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

Relatives from Atlantic Canada

Stovetop in a pot fairly similar to this
Use 2 to 3 teabags - MUST BE RED ROSE
Bring to boil and turn burner down to low
Pour into teacups, add milk
posted by kitcat at 2:43 PM on March 30, 2016

RE:above - teabags go into the pot before bringing to a boil
posted by kitcat at 2:44 PM on March 30, 2016

I am an American. I tend to drink tea the same way people drink drip coffee - first thing in the morning, while working, occasionally after dinner.

My preferred method:

* boil in a kettle. Electrical kettle is fine, I'm just used to the stove. Microwave or Keurig water is unacceptable.
* sugar cube goes in mug or disposable coffee cup, then tea bag (usually Twinings Irish Breakfast) or loose tea (a variety of chais or Mariage Freres if I am especially lucky) in a strainer
* add boiling water
* let sit some period of time. not too long?
* remove teabag, add dash of milk (NO MILK if it is a floral [violet or rose] black tea, herbal, or green)
* give me all your scones
posted by maryr at 2:45 PM on March 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

USA American, living in Seattle, born and raised in Wisconsin:

1. Put filtered Britta water in my electric kettle.
2. Put tea in my cast iron teapot. Lately, I've been drinking Thompson's Irish Breakfast Tea, but before that, a pure Assam.
3. When the water is boiling, pour it into the tea and wait a few minutes.
4. Pour that tea into a mug.
5. Pour the rest of the hot water into the teapot again, for a second steeping. I cover that teapot with a bubble envelope, to help with insulation.

I drink the tea straight, or with a pinch of unsweetened almond milk.
posted by spinifex23 at 2:46 PM on March 30, 2016

PS: No lemon because I'll forget about the lemon and add milk and that is a disaster akin only to the time I accidentally added salt instead of sugar.
posted by maryr at 2:46 PM on March 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

Scotsman in Utah

Kettle: at work, hot water from dispenser/ at home, electric kettle
Apparatus: large mug (In-N-Out)/ teapot at home if for two
Quantity: by the cup/ teapot at home if for two
Steeping: bags (even if using teapot)
Additions: milk for black/ nothing for green
Order of additions: either or - I read that water should be first, but recently discovered that with milk first I can get away without stirring: spoonless tea!
Accompaniment: nothing until late afternoon, then a plain-ish cookie or two
posted by 7 Minutes of Madness at 2:50 PM on March 30, 2016

American (California), grew up using either a stovetop kettle to get hot water or nuking a big mug (20 ounces) in the microwave, and then dumping in a teabag. No milk, sugar/honey when I was young, but that eventually was dropped.

Now, as an adult with my own money, I present to you the MOST LOVED AND USED APPLIANCE IN THE WHOLE HOUSEHOLD: the Breville Tea Maker.

This baby was worth every single cent. My husband and I probably make two to three pots every evening, of all sorts of delightful herbal/green/white/black teas. Reheating a pot of tea from the night before in the morning is pretty common, as is reusing the same leaves all evening. We drink all teas with no additions.
posted by Jaclyn at 2:50 PM on March 30, 2016

american here. Stovetop kettle, PG Tips teabag in a mug, steep for a few, add sugar and milk. If we want green tea, we'll sometimes use a little teapot that has an infuser-insert in it, to keep the rice and tea out of our drink.
posted by gorbichov at 2:57 PM on March 30, 2016

American (east coast)

At Home
Kettle: whistle
Apparatus: mug
Quantity: cup
Steeping: bags (currently tea we picked up recently in London, yay!)
Additions: a splash of milk
Order of additions: milk, after steeping and removing the bag
Accompaniment: nothing

At Work
Kettle: hot water thing in the breakroom
Apparatus: mug
Quantity: cup
Steeping: bags (I keep a stock of Twining's English Breakfast tea at work)
Additions: a splash of milk
Order of additions: milk, typically while steeping so I'm not standing around looking unproductive
Accompaniment: nothing

Boyfriend's method
Kettle: whistle
Apparatus: mug
Quantity: cup
Steeping: bags
Additions: nothing
Order of additions: N/A (note: he does not remove the bag. ew.)
Accompaniment: nothing
posted by DoubleLune at 3:06 PM on March 30, 2016

Boil water, pour into mug with teabag. I don't remove the teabag at all. Tiny splash of cream, no sugar.
posted by Klaxon Aoooogah at 3:23 PM on March 30, 2016

American, New England

Kettle: Metal teakettle on the stovetop, until just before the whistle
Apparatus: Teavana Tea Infuser ("the tea press")
Quantity: 2 mugs
Steeping: Loose leaf
Additions: none (honey if I'm sick)
Order of additions: put water on to boil, put loose tea in press, pour boiling water into press, wait a few minutes, put press on mug and let tea drain out until mug is full. Stir in honey if needed.
Accompaniment: nothing
posted by anastasiav at 3:29 PM on March 30, 2016

American in Utah. I don't drink tea every day, but if I do it's in the evening as I start night-shift work.

Electric kettle, loose-leaf tea, and one of these or a bagged tea if I have any handy.

I'm a tea nerd so I always have something weird like genmaicha or oolong or something with mate in it. My favorite is still a good Earl Grey though.

Sometimes I make iced tea with one of these instead.
posted by mmoncur at 3:30 PM on March 30, 2016

If your tap water is good (taste it first; most tap water in America is bad-tasting), then put it straight into a kettle. If you would filter your tap water for drinking, then filter it first.

The kettle is probably the whistling type that boils on the stove. I use an electric kettle, and this astounds and baffles my American friends who are not also Asian (dedicated water boilers are more common with Asian-American families, as far as I can tell.) I use it because I got one for boiling instant noodles in a college dorm and realized I could also have tea. Some people make tea water in their coffee maker, but they aren't real tea drinkers. Temperature should be a rolling boil.

Tea is almost certainly Red Rose. I like Constant Comment, but a lot of people don't. PG Tips, shmancy organic brands, or Starbucks brands are what you get as gifts or buy if you are a rich person or a British-o-phile. Lipton's or Stash is what non-tea-drinkers buy when they know you're coming over.

Splash water in the pot or mug to make sure it doesn't have a surprise crack that will explode when you add all the water, and dump it out. Then put in tea bags (one per person, plus one for the pot.) Wait for a couple minutes, then drink it. If you use a mug, leave the tea bag in the whole time. If you're me or my mom, use twice the amount of tea bags and steep it twice as long. Again, if you're me or my mom, do not add milk or sugar. To be hospitable, have sugar and milk on hand for other people. Never reuse the tea bag, but also don't remove it from the pot/mug until you are finished.

ICED TEA VARIATION: use five tea bags per quart. Tie the tea bags together by the strings for easy removal. Put them all in a big jar and pour cold water over the top. Leave it in the sun all day, then put it in the fridge. You can also just put it in the fridge, but it takes longer to brew. Never take the teabags out until the tea is all drank up; drink within a week. Have simple syrup available for guests who are Southern and accustomed to sweet tea. (For demographic information, my family is from upstate New York/eastern Pennsylvania, but I grew up in Southern California. We are ethnically Welsh/Irish within three generations.)

AT WORK: use microwave to heat up water, or use hot-water dispenser attached to water cooler, if it works. Pour into mug with tea bag already in it. Never use sugar or milk because then you would have to store it. Never wash the mug, just rinse it out with hot water every so often.
posted by blnkfrnk at 3:31 PM on March 30, 2016

Oh, and accompaniment: whatever you want. It's just a beverage. You can drink it whenever you want, but it would be weird to drink it with dinner.
posted by blnkfrnk at 3:37 PM on March 30, 2016

Well, that escalated quickly. Frantically looking up things that have been mentioned (sun tea? heath mug? orange juice???). Many, many interesting answers.

After a few messages, just wishing to clarify that "Americans, Canadians and others across the waters" should have meant am interested in anyone's tea-making process, especially if there are quirks or oddities. Except my cousin, who is so lazy he microwaves yesterday's leftover mug of tea.
posted by Wordshore at 3:41 PM on March 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'm surprised no one has already mentioned George Orwell's (anal retentive) monograph on the subject of proper tea brewing and consumption. Highlights:

Tea out of an urn is always tasteless, while army tea, made in a cauldron, tastes of grease and whitewash.

Fifthly, the tea should be put straight into the pot. No strainers, muslin bags or other devices to imprison the tea.

Eighthly, one should drink out of a good breakfast cup — that is, the cylindrical type of cup, not the flat, shallow type.

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 tea-lover if you destroy the flavour of your tea by putting sugar in it? It would be equally reasonable to put in pepper or salt.

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.

posted by nightrecordings at 3:45 PM on March 30, 2016

American, West Coast.

Electric kettle.
Mug 70%, teapot 30%. Strainers available for both ways. Several teapots to choose from. Teapot is heated with hottest tap water while waiting for kettle.

Loose leaf 80%, bagged 20% (only for Republic of Tea British Breakfast, Constant Comment, earl grey, or an herbal not available loose). The loose tea is Nilgiri black, estate Assam, pomegranate white, Harney's Cranberry Autumn, or a very specific ginger green if I'm sick. Steeping time is highly variable, I've been experimenting with larger tea amounts and shorter steeps.

The only tea that ever gets doctored is my mom's Constant Comment. Tea is sometimes with meals, otherwise nothing.
posted by monopas at 3:50 PM on March 30, 2016

Rats, of course no one had mentioned Orwell, you're only looking for non-Anglo takes on tea.

If it's even slightly insightful, I'm an American who, when brewing tea, does none of the things Orwell says you should do. Probably the opposite every time.
posted by nightrecordings at 3:51 PM on March 30, 2016

Rats, of course no one had mentioned Orwell, you're only looking for non-Anglo takes on tea.

Ah no, sorry; to clarify (see very recent comment) interested in anyone and everyone's takes on tea.

Most English people are, I suspect, unaware of Orwell's individualistic dictate on tea, associating him with Animal Farm and 1984 instead.
posted by Wordshore at 3:58 PM on March 30, 2016

American, Midwest:

I put a mug of cold tap water on a little plate and put it in the microwave for about 2.5 minutes. Then I put in a Numi tea bag (Earl Grey, honeybush, or rooibos) and at least two packets of Splenda (three if I'm using one of these).

Alternately, if my husband is involved, we put a metal kettle of cold tap water on a burner on our gas stove, heat it until it whistles, and pour the water into a mug (which in my case will then already have the Splenda packets emptied into it). Then I would add one of the Numi tea bags above, and he would add something like an Irish breakfast or lemon-ginger tea bag and honey.
posted by limeonaire at 4:00 PM on March 30, 2016

I'm pregnant, so it's herbal and decaf teas for me.

At home:
- Electric kettle
- Large coffee mug
- One mug at a time
- Tea bags
- Straight up

At work:
- The hot water spigot on the water filter machine
- Large coffee mug
- One mug at a time
- Tea bags
- Straight up

Among my coworkers, I would say it's Lipton's teabags in a mug with hot water from the water filter machine. Some might add sugar, but I doubt anyone adds milk or cream.

I grew up in Kentucky, so the way my childhood babysitter made tea was bags of Lipton's and Constant Comment (about a 50/50 distribution) in a sauce pan with water, bring to a boil, and add sugar to a fully saturated solution, then cool and drink iced. (Sweet tea like this is amazing, but you may have to have grown up drinking it to love it)

Tea at my parents house (Polish descent) is a big teapot, yunan tea leaves in the strainer bit in the middle, hot water from an electric kettle, and no additions.
posted by antimony at 4:03 PM on March 30, 2016

American, East Coast

We filter our water because it tastes nasty with chlorine otherwise. We boil it in a Calphalon kettle heated to boiling on the stovetop (no whistle).

We make tea in mugs using medium Finum Brewing Baskets for the loose tea. My personal quirks/pickiness about mugs is that they have to be ceramic, large capacity, with a white interior, and the lip of the mug has to be on the thin side.

We probably do about 70% loose tea and maybe 30% bagged tea, including some really tasty but expensive TWG brand Tea.

In the morning it is always black tea, with milk or a splash of half and half (I often use undiluted evaporated nonfat milk, particularly since I am currently on a diet), and some sweetener. The milk goes in last. The tea is drunk with breakfast, and the food component varies considerably, from a croissant or doughnut, to things like scrambled eggs and toast. In the evening it tends to be green tea, white tea, oolong, or herbal tea, and no milk or sweetener with that. In the evening we drink tea after dinner, and drink it without any food accompaniment.

If I have tea at work I make it at home in my usual way and then take the brewed tea to work in a stainless steel thermos (I preheat the thermos with boiling water, dump it out, and then put the tea in).
posted by gudrun at 4:33 PM on March 30, 2016

American here, but raised by a mother who grew up in England and has 'views' about tea making. I work from home, so all my tea-making happens there.

By the cup
-Electric kettle, water must be at full boil
-12 oz mug plus spring action tea ball of loose tea
-Steeped 2-4 minutes depending on type of tea
-half and half and brown sugar for black tea, including lapsang souchong because I am a rebel, milk only for scented teas, plain for green and pu-erh

By the pot
-Electric kettle
-32 oz tea pot, tea strainer, mugs
-1 scoop of tea per cup, plus one for the pot
-Steep 2-4 minutes, pour through tea strainer into mugs
-same milk/sugar as above

My current go-to teapot blend:
2 scoops black tea or Earl Grey
2 scoops dried mint leaves
1/2 tsp dried thyme
orange zest from 1/4 of an orange -- I just pare off big scrapes of the peel, I don't microplane
dash of cinnamon and clove powder
brown sugar to taste
steep 4 minutes
posted by ananci at 4:37 PM on March 30, 2016

Filtered water (from a Brita) into a whistling kettle on the stove
One Tetley teabag (or two if I really need a brain kick) into an Ikea Pokal mug
Add boiling water up to where the smooth part of the mug starts
Wait a minute or so for the tea to turn dark
Add a large glug of Carnation Evaporated Milk (a can of which lives in the fridge, covered by a tinfoil hat) (I'm Canadian but was raised alongside Caribbean, Asian, and British relatives, which I think is why I like evap milk- it's kind of like Asian Milk Tea, and in the Caribbean normal milk is rare, so they tend to use canned, powdered, or weird reconstituted milk)
Maybe a little normal 2% milk added to cool it
I leave the teabag in while I drink it
Drink while hot enough to gently bake throat, or forget until cold and start over.

I like it with a sweet baked good but that's not necessary.

Sometimes I add a bag of President's Choice Chocolatey Chai Tea to my Tetley bag. It's delicious but caffiene-free so it needs the help of a black tea bag.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 4:49 PM on March 30, 2016

I cannot believe this entire thread has been gone through and no one has linked to my father's most beloved appliance, the iced tea maker.

We're Texan/Okies (read: Southerners) so iced tea is a big deal, and my dad takes it to a whole new level. You fill the tea machine with water, see? And then add three big ole' Lipton's tea bags, ice in the pitcher, pitcher goes under the drip and the machine works like a drip coffee machine dripping the hot, concentrated tea onto the ice, which is completely melted by the time it's done brewing. This is then poured over more ice (he uses a giant 48oz soda cup from a convenience store), half a lemon and two packets of "the pink stuff" (aspartame). He'll go through about a pitcher a day. This is tea more as soft drink than coffee replacement, so you drink it with meals or just during the day with no accompaniment. I just thought this was how tea was made until I mentioned the machine to (American) friends in college and they responded with awe and horror.

ICE TEA LORE: My grandparents in California also did sun tea when I was a kid.

When you drive North/South across America, we always assumed we'd officially entered the South when dad would order tea and the waitress would ask "Sweet or Unsweet". "Sweet" is like biting into a sugar cube. You can buy gallon jugs of tea at many fast food restaurants, particularly those that serve fried chicken.

Myself, I just boil a kettle, soak a few Lipton teabags in a pitcher of hot water in the fridge overnight, then pour copious amounts of almond milk in. It's hot. I'm thirsty. Yum.
posted by theweasel at 5:25 PM on March 30, 2016

American, Pacific Northwest – originally Southern California, but didn't start drinking tea until I was living here.

I tend to drink tea first thing when I get to work, sometimes once or twice in the afternoon.

Electric kettle: at work I have a really nice Bonavita, at home I have a cheap plastic kettle.
Teas: my favorite right now is the Tazo brand chai bags. My backup is whatever English Breakfast tea was on sale.
Cup: I have an inexpensive (12 oz?) ceramic mug at work and a variety of similar ones at home. My favorite comes from my favorite coffeeshop.
Amendments: honey or sugar and half-and-half

I let the kettle get to a boil, then go down just below. (At work, the distance from my desk to the kettle is about right. At home sometimes I count to 10 before pouring.) The tea & sweetener go in the cup, then the hot water. I steep it for 4 minutes or so then remove the teabag & add the cream.

I don't have anything specific that I eat it with, but I am fond of an old-fashioned donut with my tea.

Alternate tea consumption:

If I'm sick, peppermint tea with honey, no cream.

I loooooove chai tea lattes, but that's basically a whole other thing.

Sometimes when it's warm I really enjoy iced tea, not as sweet as Southerners sometimes do, but definitely sweet. At my last job I had a whole ritual around it with black tea at double strength poured over ice from the office ice maker.
posted by epersonae at 5:31 PM on March 30, 2016

Kettle: cheap electric but I stop it before it hits a rolling boil because green tea and Oolong requires water at 85 degrees

Apparatus: mug
Quantity: by the cup
Steeping: Twinings Green Tea or Oolong tea (hard to find)
Additions: For Green, naked. For Oolong, either naked or splash of milk (when I need a coffee like hit)
Order of additions: after
Accompaniment: nothing

I love coffee (hence, my handle) but the caffeine ride is jarring. It hits hard and gives a sharp drop. I've found Oolong tea to have that robust full flavor with the gentle caffeine ride of tea.
posted by Coffeetyme at 5:33 PM on March 30, 2016

Oh, and my boss, a PNW native, drinks a couple of different sorts of herbal teas. (I got her one for Xmas that was blueberry and something tropical, and she LOVES it.) Once I've gotten my hot water, she gets it a little bit cooler. She drinks loose-leaf teas, sometimes in a weird contraption with the tea basket as part of the cup, sometimes in a Disneyland mug with a Mickey Mouse tea ball.
posted by epersonae at 5:33 PM on March 30, 2016

"Apparatus" is definitely the most fun part of your question. I was attached to an Ingenuitea steeper for several years, a lovely quirky device, and usually drained the tea into a wine glass, for the pleasure of seeing the color (often irrelevant, but enjoyable when you're sipping a vibrant hibiscus).

Sadly, said steeper is prone to dribbling - not all the way to "leaky" but enough that my desk got covered in dribbles. So now I have Poketo's Tea for One which is differently but equally aesthetically pleasing.

I am a Northeastern American who drinks mostly loose tea of many varieties (green, herbal, oolong, white, black), generally a cup at a time, and does put anything in it, on it, or with it.
posted by orangejenny at 5:43 PM on March 30, 2016

I'm a Yankee from outside of Boston, MA, and I have heard the way I like my tea described as "builder's tea" (strong hot black tea with milk and sugar). At home, I have an electric kettle and Upton Tea's Irish Breakfast tea, which is a fairly strong Assam. I've got a couple of pots with strainers in them for loose-leaf tea - I think of them as sizes for 1, 2, and 3 big mugs (16-20 oz mugs). I use an electric kettle because I am a space cadet and I like knowing that if I walk away from it, it'll just shut itself off.

The Upton Irish Breakfast is made of tiny sort-of crushes leaves, so it's a bit small for many infusers, and it can be a challenge to clean other infusers. The plain strainers with very fine mesh do just fine, though.

At work, I'll use teabags (I think currently my work stash is Twinings breakfast tea teabags). The hot water dispenser is not nearly close enough to boiling so I'll often microwave the hot water a bit so it's hotter and then drop my teabag in.

I usually use a timer when I'm making tea just because I'm a space cadet and I don't want to suddenly realize "oh, hey, I made tea half an hour ago..."

A lot of the time when I'm out at restaurants, I won't bother drinking tea because it's going to be kind of mediocre and weak. I like some of the local coffee shops around my city because they have good tea and serve the water very hot.
posted by rmd1023 at 5:45 PM on March 30, 2016

American. STL.


Hot water dispenser
Styrofoam cup
Cup worth only
I have 8 boxes of tea bags at my desk. Mostly varieties of chinese green or black that I picked up from the asian market or straight ginger tea. Once in a while I'll have a fruit tisane. I find that most fruit teas are heavily masked with hibiscus (looking at you Celestial Seasonings)
Also at my desk I have 5-6 bags of loose leaf from Traveling Tea. My abso favorites from them are Clouds and Mist, Jasmine Pearls, and Runa Guayusa Sage Lavender. For loose leaf I use this thing
Water in cup first.
At work it's whatever snacks or fruit I have at my desk
Repeat ~5 times a day varying which tea I have. Seriously, I drink tea all day at work,


Electric kettle
Big mug
Cup worth only
Since it's later when I drink tea at home it's usually a tisane like ginger lemon or lavender chamomile
Infuser basket
Water in first
usually no snacks
posted by asockpuppet at 6:51 PM on March 30, 2016

American South, "sweet tea" expert:

Heat water in a Pyrex quart measuring cup in the microwave for 3 minutes, throw in 3 family-size Luzianne ("Made for iced tea") teabags, let steep anywhere from 10 minutes to several hours, depending on how desperately you want tea and how busy you are, preferably using the "tea juice" while still warm to melt the enormous amount of sugar you are going to add. Put anywhere from 1 cup up to 2 cups of sugar in a gallon jar, add warm "tea juice", stir vigorously to melt sugar, then top off the gallon with tap water. Drink immediately over ice if you have to have some now, but its better if it sits on the counter for an hour or so, then put any leftovers in the fridge, although its definitely better the day it is made. My three-person family can go through a gallon and sometimes more, per day.
posted by SweetTeaAndABiscuit at 7:06 PM on March 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

New Zealander, now living in Australia.

I grew up making tea with an electric kettle, hot water onto a teabag in a mug, or a teapot with multiple teabags if making it for guests. Dad insisted the milk had to go in first; Mum that the water should. No one in my family has sugar; everyone has milk.

Nowadays I usually use loose leaf tea in a little tea holder made of metal that sits in the bottom of the mug. If I'm making it in a pot, I use the leaves loose. If I'm at work, I use water from the instant boiling water tap, or if I'm at home, electric kettle. I add milk if I have any, but I also enjoy drinking it black, and will do this if making it for guests or my husband, as hardly anyone I know here puts milk in. I don't know if that's Australian, or if my friends are all weird. Herbal or citrusy teas like Earl Grey I only drink black. No sugar.

When I was a kid, or now visiting family, people make tea about 7-10 times a day. Basically whenever your cup is empty you make another one. So you don't automatically serve food with it. But when I'm at home I only drink it once or twice a day, or if we have guests, tea is a special thing, and it seems appropriate to give people biscuits with it. Chocolate Digestives are the best option, with gingernuts a close second.
posted by lollusc at 8:03 PM on March 30, 2016

Oh and nowadays I follow Dad's rule, and put the milk in first. His argument was that the hot water will ruin the tea if you don't cool it a little with the milk. I'm not sure I believe that, but it's nice not to have to use a spoon to stir things - the adding of the water agitates it all nicely.
posted by lollusc at 8:04 PM on March 30, 2016

American, Chicago.

I only really drink tea at home--coffee is my at-work beverage.

1. Water is brought to a full boil in a kettle on the gas stove. I honestly can't tell the difference between fresh water and water that's been on the stovetop for three days, but I got the kettle (a dented Simplex or Simplex-alike) at the thrift store and I'm slightly paranoid about it slowly leaching something undesirable into the water.

2. We have a Hall No-Drip (affectionately referred to as the "limp dick teapot") which makes two very generous servings. Teapot is pre-heated for black tea and left cold for oolong/green tea, which works out to approximately the right brewing temperature. I generally don't drink tea fancy enough that I have to worry about brewing below 180-185 F.

2. Tea is loose leaf unless it's herbal/mint or some kind of proprietary flavored tea. Day to day in the winter most of what we drink is jasmine or genmaicha; in the "too expensive to drink every day" category, I like pu-erh but my partner doesn't care for it and we both like tieguanyin. Like other commenters, I am totally over hibiscus-based herbal tea after a childhood of Orange/Lemon Zinger--plus, I live in Pilsen, so if I ever want to scratch that itch I can get agua fresca de jamaica basically anywhere. I have a soft spot for the original Good Earth brand blend (now maybe called Sweet & Spicy?). In general, we tend to drink tea September-May, and then forget it exists for a few months while it's hot.

3. Tea goes in the pot before water, about one teaspoon per cup, and is steeped for 3-5 minutes. After I've had a few pots of any given variety I usually know how I'm going to like it. The whole pot is poured out into mugs at once. More expensive teas have whole leaves (or at least large pieces) and don't need to be strained; for genmaicha or cheap tea that's in bits I just pour it through a little strainer. If the tea is nicer it can be brewed a few times so I usually just let the leaves hang out in the teapot.

4. No sugar, milk or lemon unless it's strong English style "breakfast" black/red tea, which I like with milk and sugar.
posted by pullayup at 8:05 PM on March 30, 2016

Born in Scotland, raised in Canada by English mother and Scots father.
Electric kettle
If I'm making tea for just myself, I use a mug. There is one acceptable mug for making my tea and woe betide anyone who tries to use a different one. If I'm making tea for company I use a vintage picquot ware teapot, just like my mum's.
I use teabags because that is what we have always done. My bag of choice is Tetley Bold or Yorkshire Gold.
Cup -- teabag, boiling water, wait, fish bag out, add milk
Pot -- swish with hot water, teabags (3), boiling water, tea cosy if the house is cold, milk in cup first
Served with: toast (morning); family digestives (afternoon)
posted by atropos at 8:52 PM on March 30, 2016

American (Born Midwestern, now East Coast)

Kettles: 1 Electric "Smart" Kettle (can program in different temps), 1 Stovetop kettle

Tea pots: about 6 pots of various sizes 2-8 cups with various strainers some that fit with the pots

Other accessories: Quilted Tea Cozy, Tea Warmer (with tea light candle), timers for steeping

Tea: All loose leaf mail order from Barkingside Tea Importers in Richfield, MN. Shrink-wrapped and kept in freezer until I am ready to use it, then in containers on the counter

Preparation: Depends on the tea, mostly naked, but will add Whole Milk to some black teas. Have never added sugar or lemon as I don't like the taste.

Food: Not usually, sometimes cereal if I am having tea at the same time as breakfast, but I have tea and coffee whenever and not usually with food
posted by 2ghouls at 8:58 PM on March 30, 2016

To generalize a bit about tea in America (from most to least common):

1. Everyone is familiar with iced tea. It would be really unusual for a restaurant not to have it on their menu.
2. There is a north/south divide in iced tea where in the northern part of the US you'll be served unsweetened iced tea, usually with a slice of lemon, but in the south you'll be asked sweet or unsweet and sweet will be tooth rottingly sweet. (This geographic separation is starting to blur as restaurant chains like McDonalds bring sweet tea to the entire country.)
3. Hot tea is not unusual. It will always be an option at even the cheapest dine in restaurants (but usually in the form of a mug of dubiously hot water and a selection of ancient celestial seasonings teabags) and the tea section in the grocery store is pretty robust (though not nearly as robust as the coffee selection.)
4. More than half of that grocery store selection is herbal tea, though.
5. If you prepare tea at home you probably use a whistling stovetop kettle and teabags.
6. Then in smaller and smaller increments you will have
a. People who use an electric kettle (either because they have lived abroad, or because of family heritage, or because they read on the internet that that's how it's done in the UK)
b. People who use teapots, who can be classified into two types
I. People who drink enough tea that they want more than one cup at a time
II. People who collect them and like the whole esthetic of it
posted by MsMolly at 9:10 PM on March 30, 2016

Iced tea is my beverage of choice. Most of the time, I make it by nuking half a mug of fresh filtered water in the microwave, steeping a Red Rose teabag in it for 5ish minutes, adding Stevia (a packet or about a dozen drops of the liquid Stevia), adding ice cubes to the top of the mug, removing and squeezing the teabag, and squeezing some fresh lemon juice in. Occasionally I'll use honey instead of Stevia to sweeten it.

The snobbery against tea bags annoys me. I'm not a lowbrow who doesn't appreciate the taste of good tea; the bagged tea *is* good. It blends better with the lemon and Stevia flavors than many whole leaf teas, and also why do more work when you have a fully delicious low-labor alternative?

I rarely drink tea hot, and the only times I've had it with milk (in England) I haven't cared for it. I also remember reading that it isn't as good for you with milk added.
posted by mysterious_stranger at 10:33 PM on March 30, 2016

American here, originating from New England.

- Type of kettle - electric, hob, whistle or silent, other?
Whistle kettle on gas stove.

- Apparatus, such as cup/mug, saucer, sugar tongs, tea cosy, pot, other?
Mug usually if just me. Pot if having tea with friends and we all want the same type of tea.

- Do you make a pot of tea, or a cup/mug?
see above

- Tea bags, or loose leaf?
Usually tea bags for solo, but sometimes loose. Almost always loose for a pot of tea.

- Naked, milk, or lemon?
Naked. Honey, if I'm sick.

- Milk, or tea, in the cup first (caution: this can form the basis of heated and feudal division)?
No milk, ugh, gross.

- Accompaniment - nothing, biscuit, cake, muffin, scone or other?
posted by Toddles at 10:43 PM on March 30, 2016

Australian here.

Electric kettle onto a teabag in a mug, followed by a dash of milk (for my partner, who has British parents) or no milk (for me). Neither of us have sugar. Nothing in particular is consumed with it.

A pot is made if we are feeling fancy or people are over.

There's a huge amount of variation though, I like Janine tea if I'm studying or chamomile or hops if I'm not sleeping well at the time.

The best thing I've discovered though is the use of the old Pyrex coffee makers from the sixties as a kettle. Put the tea up the top, water down the bottom and off you go. Put it in the fridge later on if you want it cold. When empty refill with water and repeat the boil.
posted by deadwax at 3:14 AM on March 31, 2016

Australian here too.

At home: put loose-leaf tea in an infuser, put that in a mug, boil water in an electric kettle, pour water into mug, jiggle the infuser about a bit, add milk. My British family members scoff at the amount of milk I put in my tea - I like it a pale beige, they like theirs more of a light brown.

At work I drink Buddha's Tears green tea. So, put 5-6 balls into a double-walled cup, fend off questions from colleagues as to whether they are rabbit droppings, add boiling water from the Billi, wait till the tea leaves unfurl and release the flavour and the tea has cooled enough to drink (around 10 minutes).
posted by girlgenius at 3:34 AM on March 31, 2016

American here, we bought an electric kettle after a visit to relatives in Ireland who had one, they are not that common here. We found it greatly improves both tea bag tea of all kinds and instant coffee. We have been giving electric kettles to friends and family ever since, and everyone likes them.
posted by mermayd at 4:36 AM on March 31, 2016

I think electric kettles, while still relatively uncommon in the U.S., have been becoming increasingly popular.
posted by Alluring Mouthbreather at 6:22 AM on March 31, 2016

Honorary American Citizen i.e. legally in the country :) (India born, Boston via Seattle)

I just learnt to make chai over the last year from my girlfriend. This is how I now roll:

Type of kettle - Just a decent sized sauce pan, enough for 2-3 cups of liquid
-Mugs, no sauce pans. But in India chai is usually served in earthen pots
- Usually make a pot
- Loose leaf here
- Lots of milk and sugar, and chai spices
- Boil the milk with water. No lemon.
- Usually shortbread cookies since they aren't too sweet and butter complements the sweetness
posted by rippersid at 7:07 AM on March 31, 2016 [1 favorite]

USA - New England

Every morning with breakfast:
Boil water in a whistling kettle over a gas stove
Kettle whistle, turn off gas
Pour boiling water into the empty teapot
Empty all hot water from teapot into mugs (~8 oz each), no saucers
Add 3 teaspoons of loose leaf tea (lately: Organic Fairtrade Assam) (sometime literally with the measuring spoon, often approximately with a spoon) to pot
Pour hot-but-no-longer boiling water into teapot
Steep ~4 minutes (depending on the tea)
Empty hot water from mugs
Pour into preheated mugs, straining through this style of tea strainer
Drink black with breakfast

Afternoon tea at work
Boil water in electric kettle
Place basket style tea strainer in large mug
Add 2 approximated teaspoons of loose leaf tea (Earl Grey, lately) to strainer
When water is boiling, pour over tea
Steep 2-5 minutes, depending on tea
Remove steeper basket
Add cream
Plunge spoon in briefly to stir
Rinse spoon under tap
posted by carrioncomfort at 7:55 AM on March 31, 2016

Alluring Mouthbreather: "I think electric kettles, while still relatively uncommon in the U.S., have been becoming increasingly popular."

They just don't work as well here because of the lower voltage of standard US wiring.
posted by octothorpe at 8:04 AM on March 31, 2016 [1 favorite]

Relatives from Atlantic Canada

Stovetop in a pot fairly similar to this
Use 2 to 3 teabags - MUST BE RED ROSE
Bring to boil and turn burner down to low
Pour into teacups, add milk

I remember when I was a kid, my grandma from mainland Nova Scotia would talk about her Cape Breton friends who would put a pot of water with teabags on the stove and boil the shit out of it. She wasn't into, then again, she prefered just a cup of hot water.

In general I remember when people would be visiting and having tea, there'd be a pot with tea bags, a tea cozy, and milk and sugar. No lemon, no loose tea.
posted by beau jackson at 8:12 AM on March 31, 2016

My Rwandan friends make tea by slowly heating milk in a pan with the teabag in. Just milk, no water. I've had it with sugar and ginger added before it was served to everyone. Sweet and tasty.
posted by beau jackson at 8:15 AM on March 31, 2016

Whistling kettle on gas stove, filled with just over one cup spring water (spring on property) for quick boil. Take 1 spoonful of tennessee sourwood honey; tap spoon in honey jar to reduce to around 1/3rd spoonful, and place in mug. Add pomegranate rooibos tea bag. Pour over hot water immediately upon boiling and seep for around 3 minutes until first sip. Bag left in to continue steeping as long as it lasts. Spoon remains in mug and is used to extract last dregs of tea from bag. No snack. No second cup until night, when it's mint tea or sleepytime tea instead.
posted by joeyh at 8:16 AM on March 31, 2016 [1 favorite]

I see somebody's mentioned Indian chai above. Mongolian Chai is made in a similar way, but instead of spices they use... salt. Which is pretty odd-tasting, but not altogether unpleasant. The version I had used loose leaf black tea cut from a block, milk, salt and butter all boiled up together on the hob.
posted by tinkletown at 8:34 AM on March 31, 2016


Usually electric kettle/stovetop kettle, teabag of choice in your mug, then pour boiling water directly into the mug. Add sugar. At home we would have it with milk but this is unusual.

*lots* of people in Peru save their teabags for a second use, or use a teabag for a whole teapot full of water. My parents didn't like this because they thought it was thrifty to a ridiculous degree, but for some reason I just can't in good conscience use a whole teabag in one measly cup of tea. My husband hates seeing the ramekins I leave with one lonely teabag waiting for its second use.
posted by Tarumba at 9:17 AM on March 31, 2016 [1 favorite]

Kettle: Electric, actually can do sub-boiling temperatures
Mug: Grabbed out of the mug counter in the cabinet. For nostalgia, I'll grab my Dr. Who mug from the 80s.
Bag: Almost always use a tea bag, although I have used loose-leaf when I had a tea ball (I wonder what happened to it?) The tea bag is left in either a.) until the tea is cool enough to drink or b.) until it is time to wash out the mug. I'm aiming for something just below tea concentrate here. I've had tea a time or two in Turkish and Russian restaurants and got the idea when reading how to use a samovar.
Milk: Sometimes milk, sometimes we don't have it in the fridge, sometimes I don't want it. Always added to chai in a bag. Tisanes rarely get milk.
Sweetener (how could you forget this?): Always a great deal of sugar and/or honey. (After all, good tea is bitter.)
When to add milk: If milk is added, it usually goes in first, although I have amused myself by adding it at the same time as the water. Take that, British classism.
Accompaniment: My tea has enough sugar in it that I cannot legitimately justify eating anything sweat with it. If it's made with breakfast, then eggs or something else, but otherwise, it's on its own.
Exceptions: Oolong tea is steeped for about a minute to prevent bitterness and served without anything added. Green tea is poured down the sink and into the sewer system in which it belongs.
posted by Hactar at 10:30 AM on March 31, 2016

Peru [...] *lots* of people in Peru save their teabags for a second use

oh, yeah, my chilean partner does this too :o( listen to your husband!
posted by andrewcooke at 1:21 PM on March 31, 2016

How could I forget the other Australian way of making tea: billy tea. This is made on a campfire. A billy (tall metal pan with a lid and a handle) of water is boiled on the fire, then a handful of tea is chucked in. If you are cautious, you let it sit for a few minutes then tap the sides of the billy sharply a few times with a stick, to make the tea leaves settle to the bottom. If you are brave, you grasp the billy by the handle and swing it over your head in a great circle, so that centripetal force sends the tea leaves to the bottom.

The tea is then decanted (carefully so as not to disturb the leaves) into enamel mugs. Milk is added if you have it, and plenty of sugar, stirred in with a stick. It will have a slight smoky eucalyptus-y taste from the fire. Anything else cooked on the fire can be eaten with it - if you want to be very traditional you'd make a damper - a flour-and-water bread cooked in the coals or by twisting the dough round a stick and holding it over the fire.
posted by girlgenius at 1:50 PM on March 31, 2016

Live in Texas
Family from the North, lived in the South my whole life.
Drink tea all day, every day

Kettle: electric
Apparatus: cast iron tea pot with nested strainer
Quantity: pots full (3 per day)
Steeping: 100% loose leaf Turkish tea
Additions: none
Order of additions: tea leaves followed by water
Accompaniment: nothing and everything

I get up in the morning and turn on the electric kettle. I begin with two heaping tablespoons in a liter teapot. I use boiling water and pour it over the tea. I allow this to steep for about 4 minutes. The resulting tea is a dark, reddish amber. I pour myself a large mug and fill my travel mug. Then I add another tablespoon to the pot and top off with another liter of boiling water. This steeps for about 6 minutes. I take this and pour it into a canning jar. The color is about the same. The mason jar is capped and put into my leather jar carrier where it will cool into my cold tea for the day. As it cools, the lid forms a pressure seal.
I then boil another liter of water and pour it over the three tablespoons of leaves in the pot. This steeps for another five or so minutes and it is what I drink hot after I finish the first mug. The color is a bit lighter than the first two pots.
Then on my commute I drink the hot tea and then drink the additional tea room temperature/cold all day.
None of this is cultural or regional in any way.
This is just the method I have developed to keep myself caffeinated and happy throughout the work day.
posted by Seamus at 2:45 PM on March 31, 2016

randomnity and looli had a baby and that's me

Canadian & I drink tea at least twice a day

Kettle: Electric cordless kettle, silent.

Aparatus: Teapot at home, mug at work. My teapot is a Brazilian modern thing that I like but it's scarily cracked. I've been looking for a replacement at the Sally Ann, but no luck so far. I have no tea cozy, but I do wrap a tea towel around the pot and steep for a good 10-15 minutes. I'll drink from just about any mug except glass (shudders).

Quantity: I need a bigger pot.

Steeping: Bags daily, and occasionally loose leaf fancy stuff that I receive as gifts and its very very kind of you but really I like the tea I grew up with so please don't buy me anymore tea. Thank you. Sorry.

Order: OMG water first. This is a big deal to us Canadians, because until a few years ago when Tim Hortons introduced "steeped tea" to Canada, restaurants could get away with serving a cup with milk in it, and some tepid water and a paper-wrapped Red Rose tea bag. It was very sad.

Additions: I like it strong with lots of milk. Taste-wise I'd go for homo (US "whole" I think). But mostly I use soy or 2% cow's milk.

Accompaniments: With breakfast daily, as well as snacks (often) and meals (occasionally).
posted by Frenchy67 at 7:08 PM on March 31, 2016 [1 favorite]

*lots* of people in Peru save their teabags for a second use, or use a teabag for a whole teapot full of water. My parents didn't like this because they thought it was thrifty to a ridiculous degree, but for some reason I just can't in good conscience use a whole teabag in one measly cup of tea. My husband hates seeing the ramekins I leave with one lonely teabag waiting for its second use.

Oh, I didn't even think to mention this, but this was true in NZ too when I was growing up in the 1980s. Most people in my extended family would save the teabag for their next cup and use it two or three times before throwing it out. My grandparents used to actually dry the teabags out and put them back in the cupboard, but that was considered ridiculous by most other people.

I have to admit, on the odd occasion when I still use a teabag now instead of loose leaves, I have been known to not bother removing it from the cup while I drink, and then when I am finished I will sometimes refill with milk and water without getting a new bag. This didn't seem bad to me until right now as I am typing it out.
posted by lollusc at 7:31 PM on March 31, 2016

American who likes to drink a lot of Chinese tea.

I have this electric kettle, which I like because it has easy buttons for getting the right water temperature for white/oolong/green/black/herbal teas.

I have four distinct common tea preparation methods:

1. With nice oolongs, I like to use a ~150ml gaiwan (or with more fermented oolongs, sometimes I use a nice little gongfu teapot - this is a photo of my favorite one, which I bought from The Jade Leaf).

I put in enough tea to ~cover the bottom of the gaiwan or pot, and then do 2-6 (depending on the tea) ~30 second steepings (with hot water from clicking the oolong button on my kettle). After each steeping, I pour the tea into a small mug (leaving the leaves in the gaiwan/pot for later) and finish drinking it all before adding more water to the gaiwan/pot and steeping again. I really enjoy the way the flavor of the tea changes with each steeping. With most oolongs, after 2-3 steepings the tea gets too tannic (or whatevs) for me, but there are some where I can keep going!

2. With pretty much any other kind of tea, I use a basket infuser from David's Tea in a mug. It looks like this, basically a big cylinder strainer that fits in your mug and leaves lots of room inside for your tea to expand. Add hot water (using the right kettle button for the kind of tea it is), let steep for 30-60 seconds (I really like lightly brewed tea), and then remove the strainer and drink from the mug.

3. With heavily spiced teas (what Americans tend to refer to as chai), I'll use the basket infuser as in #2 but let it keep steeping for several minutes, and then add milk and brown sugar only after removing the strainer.

4. I really like iced tea! I make it by cold-brewing - I fill a disposable teabag with tea, tie it shut, then put it in a pitcher of water in my fridge. I remove the tea bag when I get around to it, it basically doesn't matter. I like jasmine green tea done this way, and my husband likes herbal teas ideally involving hibiscus, but the method is the same regardless.

In general:
- Naked (no dairy, no sweetener), with the sole exception of tea prep method #3.
- Always loose leaf unless I'm sick and overwhelmed and need efficiency over flavor. But that basically doesn't count, it's more throat-ick-beverage than tea in my mind at that point.
- No standard accompaniment.
posted by 168 at 12:12 PM on April 3, 2016

We're all best answers now.
posted by maryr at 4:06 PM on April 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

Thank you to the many people who wrote detailed and illuminating answers. Much variety!
posted by Wordshore at 11:51 AM on April 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

« Older What don't I understand about Apple Airport?   |   Novels about betrayal, but not romantic/sexual... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.