When someone inevitably asks you whether or not you learned anything from George Orwell (by “anything,” people usually mean stuff about conformity and state control and the dangers of surveillance), don’t you wish you could snidely reply I learned how to make a great cup of tea.
Now you can totally do that.
It turns out that in 1946, The Evening Standard published a piece by George Orwell titled “A Nice Cup of Tea,” in which Orwell specified eleven steps to mastering the perfect brew every time. Orwell admits that the process of tea-making is a highly contested procedure, and that at least four of his own points could be labelled “acutely controversial.” But if you want a guide to a distinctively Orwellian cup (which probably means that the tea is deceptive and believes in totalitarianism), here are a few of the key points:
Secondly, tea should be made in small quantities — that is, in a teapot. Tea out of an urn is always tasteless, while army tea, made in a cauldron, tastes of grease and whitewash. The teapot should be made of china or earthenware. Silver or Britanniaware teapots produce inferior tea and enamel pots are worse; though curiously enough a pewter teapot (a rarity nowadays) is not so bad.
Fifthly, the tea should be put straight into the pot. No strainers, muslin bags or other devices to imprison the tea. In some countries teapots are fitted with little dangling baskets under the spout to catch the stray leaves, which are supposed to be harmful. Actually one can swallow tea-leaves in considerable quantities without ill effect, and if the tea is not loose in the pot it never infuses properly.
Seventhly, after making the tea, one should stir it, or better, give the pot a good shake, afterwards allowing the leaves to settle.
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 tealover if you destroy the flavour of your tea by putting sugar in it? It would be equally reasonable to put in pepper or salt. Tea is meant to be bitter, just as beer is meant to be bitter. 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.
So, according to Orwell: silver teapots are garbage, you better chew your tealeaves like damn adult, shaking your teapot is the way to enlightenment, and tea is meant to be bitter–just like our feelings.
Now put that sugar in the trash and strap in. It’s teatime.
[via Mental Floss. Image: Miya]