A perfect cuppa ©Joanna Kosinska

We all know it doesn’t get more English than an afternoon tea and much is written about this very English tradition, with countless guides about where to go in London to experience the best. Although we were not the first to bring the tradition of the “cuppa” to Europe (that was the Dutch), and the United States had tea be- fore the UK, drinking tea is still an impor- tant part of our lives. In fact, Samuel Pepys first wrote about having tea in his diary in 1660, a time when tea was extremely ex- pensive due to the nearly 120% tax. Today, we drink 165 million cups or mugs of tea every single day, still way more than the British daily consumption of 95 million cups of coffee, and we even have an annual celebration: National Tea Day on April 21st. Sometimes I am asked by my clients to

explain the differences between cream tea, afternoon tea and high tea. When we think of going out for a special occasion to enjoy a full meal of sandwiches, scones, cakes and a cup of tea, this is called afternoon tea. Cream tea is an abbreviated version of this; just the scones and a drink are served. Finally, high tea is a completely different meal, which is light and eaten in the late afternoon or early evening, including cooked food and cakes. Many aspects of afternoon tea have fasci-

nating stories in history. For example, the sandwich has always been a very popular snack, and the first person to eat one was the Earl of Sandwich. He was a dedicated

6 FOCUS The Magazine January/February 2020

gambler and refused to leave the gaming tables to eat. During one of these lengthy gambling games, he didn’t want to stop, so he ordered his lunch to be brought to him between two pieces of bread. In this way, he invented the sandwich, and we now eat four billion sandwiches a year in the UK. Likewise, Earl Grey tea – a blend

flavoured with bergamot – is named after a person. Te story goes that Charles Grey, the second Earl Grey and prime minister in the 1830s, asked Twinings to recreate a tea he had been given as a gift, and so this distinctive brew was born. Scones, amazingly, create quite a bit of

debate. Devon and Cornwall in the South West of England are famous for their af- ternoon teas, including the scone. However, they have very different views on the best way to eat the baked good. Te Devonshire method is to split the scone in two, cover each half with clotted cream and then add strawberry jam. Te Cornish way is to split the scone, spread the strawberry jam first and then top with clotted cream. Whichever way you do it, eat the halves separately – don’t try to make a scone sandwich with the filling as it will be very messy to eat! Some people ask me why drinking tea

with a little finger (pinkie) sticking out is considered posh. Te original china cups were made in China, and European hands were generally bigger and couldn’t hold the cups properly, so they had to stick

their fingers out to hold the cup. Plus, they wanted to show off their beautifully decorated cups as a status symbol to demonstrate they could afford this exotic, new drink. Even when the cups became bigger and more adapted to European hands, the tradition remained to show that you were rich. So how do you make a perfect cuppa?

Well, tea experts say the water should be- tween 80° and 90°, not boiling, so turn off the kettle when you see the first bub- bles or wait two minutes after boiling. Whatever you do, never re-boil the water. Ten pour the water into your mug with the tea bag and brew (leave it to develop) for three to four minutes for black tea. Importantly, you shouldn’t stir or squeeze the teabag as this transfers the bitterness into your tea. Originally, the British tradi- tion was to put milk in first to cool the cup before pouring in hot tea at a time when cheap cups would crack with the heat. However, these days milk should go in last so you can get the perfect colour for your tea. And where is a good place to go for a

cuppa in London? Well, new places and themed menus are launched all the time, so I thought I would share some of my favourites that I have visited over the years. Tese may not be the most popular options, but I hope you enjoy some in- sights into my perfect cuppas!

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