How to make a smashing cup of tea

Tomorrow is Alzheimer’s Tea Day, but not everyone can make the perfect cuppa. Barbara Scully reveals how to succeed.

MY dear mother says that “a good cuppa tea can cure almost everything from a broken heart to a bad flu”. I’m a coffee girl most of the time but I must start and end my day with a good cup of tea. I have been married 15 years and it has taken me that long to train my dear husband how to make a proper cup of tea. But it was worth it because there is nothing like being handed my late night cuppa, perfectly brewed without having to heave myself off the sofa!

So what makes the perfect cuppa? I did do a bit of research on Twitter (where else) and have to say that most of the twitterati like tea more or less the way I do. So here is the scientifically checked out perfect cup of tea — as in 8 out of 10 twits who expressed a preference, etc.

The perfect cup of tea has to be strong, very dark and very hot. Let me start with the hot bit. For tea to be hot two things need to happen. Firstly the kettle must boil — why do some men knock off the kettle prematurely (not looking at you, dear)? Secondly, once boiled the water must meet the tea bag immediately.!

Next is the brew! Good tea, say the twitterati, must be strong. That means being left to brew for at least 3 minutes and then give the bag a bit of a squeeze with the teaspoon.

Once brewed, then please do not spoil the cuppa by pouring lots of milk into it. No, the perfect cuppa requires but a splash of milk, hardly enough to colour it a slightly lighter shade of tan.

Finally, my exhaustive research has confirmed my own belief that tea should have no sugar or sweeteners added.

But as the Japanese know, making tea should also involve an element of ritual. Not to be confused with a tendency towards obsessive, compulsive disorder, but most tea drinkers know that the perfect cuppa must come in the right cup or mug, which is preferably narrow and tall and cherished over years. Tall and narrow to keep the tea hot and cherished over years means it will carry the echo of thousands of perfect cuppas past! In the early days of our courtship, (back to my beloved here — keep up) my tea cup was an object of peculiar beauty, tall, narrow, flowery and slightly stained inside. I loved my tea cup and I lovingly washed it by hand.

One Saturday, himself was over from the UK on a visit and was being particularly helpful and washing up. I was reclining on the sofa with a book. Suddenly I heard him mutter “oh shit” under his breath. He arrived in the doorway holding my precious cup in one hand and the handle in the other. My face must have fallen a few miles because he suddenly sprang into action (which doesn’t happen often — but again that’s another article) announcing “I have superglue, I’ll fix it.”

A few minutes later he declared that my beautiful mug was in recovery on the kitchen counter where it was to reside for a couple of hours as the glue set. He was going back to the UK that evening and so, having dropped him to the airport, I arrived home and had to prepare my own end of day cuppa.

I went into the kitchen and there was my mug, handle re-attached and waiting to be used. I gingerly pulled the handle. Yep, it definitely seemed to be stuck fast. Great I thought as I went to lift the mug towards the boiling kettle. But it wouldn’t move. I tried again. But no good. My darling husband-to-be had certainly refixed the handle to the cup, but he had also managed to drip the glue which, yep you have guessed it, stuck my mug fast to the counter top. You have no idea the trauma of having to deliberately smash my precious and beloved tea cup in order to remove it from the kitchen counter.

He was banned from touching my tea cup for years after that, which probably goes a long way towards explaining why it has taken him 15 years to be able to master the art of making the perfect cup of tea — strong, dark and hot! He’s got it now though, bless him!

Alzheimer National Tea Day takes place tomorrow. Tea Day is a social occasion where friends, family, work colleagues, neighbours come together to drink tea and raise money for The Alzheimer Society of Ireland. Tea Days are held in homes and workplaces all over Ireland, all raising funds to provide much needed local services.

Everything you need to host your own tea break is now available online at

* For more information on Alzheimer’s Disease and the work of The Alzheimer Society of Ireland go to


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