A Nice Cup of Tea (2016)

The Evening Standard published George Orwell’s essay on ‘a nice cup of tea’ over 70 years ago. Since then, we have seen the proliferation of individual tea bags, electric kettles and an ever increasing variety of teas. Therefore, as an avid tea drinker, I felt it appropriate to update his original treatise.

Tea drinking is synonymous with Englishness…

…Other countries may have perversions of preparation and drinking rituals, but the following points outline supplementary guidelines for the Englishman’s convenience.

They are as follows:

  • Breakfast or everyday tea should drunk from a mug . This offers a larger serving, appropriate for dipping biscuits. This also avoids delusions of grandeur— drinking cheap tea from a fine china tea cup is akin to drinking ale from a champagne flute.
  • The tea drinker must strive to drink the tea at optimum temperature. After it has cooled enough so as not to impair the flavour, but hot enough that the flavour of milk is not more apparent than that of the tea. If this happens, it should be poured away.
  • Contrary to Orwell’s advice, African tea is acceptable before lunchtime and largely unavoidable in tea blends. Afternoon tea should be a more delicate variety, such as Earl Grey or Darjeeling. Lighter teas can also be drunk at bedtime.
  • If pouring from an electric kettle, the water must be poured slowly and carefully after boiling has finished, to avoid any limescale finding its way into the cup.
  • It is more than acceptable to add milk to all black tea. However, the appropriate shade differs with different kinds. A rich copper is appropriate for stronger blends of assam or ceylon tea, whereas darjeeling or a good Earl Grey should have  a slightly more pallid almost cloudy appearance.
  • To reiterate Orwell, adding sugar to tea is no better than adding coca cola to fine scotch, or tomato ketchup to a prime steak. it is unnecessary and contrary to one’s health.
  • Loose leaf tea is vastly superior to tea bags and should aways be chosen in preference to the latter.
  • If entertaining guests, tea should be brewed in a pot and not the cup. It is also appropriate to offer more than one variety of tea.
  • Lapsang shouchong is an abomination and should not be drunk by any civilised human being.

I must also add the caveat that, tea is essential to one’s vitality and must be drunk in whatever style that circumstances permit. That is, any of the rules can be discarded if adhering to them will prevent one from drinking tea at all. However, when possible, the highest standards of tea making should be observed.


These are simply my own guidelines. I would refer anyone to Orwell’s original essay on tea for further suggestions of good practice. I have avoided the subject of which biscuits, sweets or tea cakes should be served, as opinions and options are so diverse that it would be pointless to suggest any common taste.



God Save The Queen!

Jeremy Corbyn’s recent decision to remain silent during the national anthem offended a lot of decent, patriotic folk.

As the decrepit firebrand refused to join in at the Battle of Britain ceremony, his followers quickly took to social media to spew anti-monarchy rhetoric in a show of solidarity with their new messiah.

The three most parroted gripes appeared to be:

  • The monarchy are too costly for the taxpayer
  • They were not democratically elected
  • They no longer have political value

Of course, arguing with this kind of zealotry is a forlorn cause, but I wanted to at least present an alternative view.

Is the monarchy value for money?

Anti-monarchy pressure group, Republic, claim that sustaining the royal family costs the British taxpayer around £334 million per year.

Of course, figures vary massively depending on who you ask, but for now we can take this liberal estimate as accurate.

VisitBritain – a public body promoting UK tourism – estimates the tourism revenue brought in by the royal family at £500 million – quite a mark-up on the figure put out by Republic – and that’s without the £249 million generated from the crown properties portfolio.

Just to err on the side of caution and give Republic a fighting chance, if we halve the figure estimated by VisitBritain, there is still a surplus of over £40 million!

So is the monarchy good value? I know what I think.

(Incidentally, the official figures have it that the monarchy cost each of us around 53 pence per year)

We didn’t vote for the monarchy…

True, the queen may not have been democratically elected, but the anti-monarchy brigade might find they come up short if the issue were to be put to the vote – a survey carried out by the Sunday Telegraph showed that 66% believed that Britain was better off as a monarchy, compared to only 17% who would prefer a republic. Furthermore, only 14% of those surveyed believed that Britain should become a republic if the queen was to abdicate.

Does the monarchy have any political clout?

Queen Elizabeth’s detractors also like to dismiss her role as an advisor to government ministers as something purely ceremonial.

It is worth remembering that she is now our longest reigning monarch and, as such, has been holding regular meetings with our leading politicians since 1953. She has monitored the political landscape of the nation for decades and held confabs with PMs including Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher and Ted Heath. She is in a unique and qualified position to give insight beyond the myopic scope of any four year government.

There are few politicians that can boast that level of knowledge and experience.


Queen Elizabeth, Queen Elizabeth II, Royal Family

So the royal family is more valuable than Facebook or Twitter activists would have us believe, the majority of the country support them and Queen Elizabeth knows her stuff.

No doubt the hard left republicans will keep up their incessant whining until we are all living in grey towers, eating organic hummus and worshipping Russell Brand, but whether they like it or not, the monarchy have a lot of support and – figures and politics aside – they are a living link to our history and have provided a cultural identity for hundreds of years.