Americans are fascinated by the English ritual of tea making and drinking. So here are some guidelines for a perfect pot of Prodigal Tea. First you need a teapot, a tea strainer, and a whistling kettle. (If you don’t have a teapot, you can use a Pyrex container, but the tea won’t stay as hot while it brews.) Any kind of milk can be used but not cream or creamer, please!
And you’ll need tea of course. I use Brooke Bond PG Tips or Typhoo. Both Brit brands are not the highest grade but they are workmanlike, everyday breakfast teas that give a flavorful, robust, caramel-colored brew. Definitely a step up from local leaves that shall remain nameless. Boston Harbor should be full of the stuff, as far as I’m concerned!
I like to add a large pinch of Earl Grey to the pot, to mellow out the breakfast tea and provide an additional burst of flavor. This is the everyday Prodigal Blend. (I think a pot of just Earl Grey is a little too much.)
Prodigal Tea for two!
First put the kettle on until it whistles. Splash some hot water in the teapot to warm it, then empty out. Put one heaping teaspoon of loose tea (or one teabag of strong tea) in the pot, plus a good pinch of Earl Grey. I prefer the Earl Grey with the citrus bergamot flavor as opposed to the more smoky version of the blend, but that’s a matter of taste. Now reboil the water and pour a couple of cupfuls in the pot. Let the brew stand for a few minutes and there you are. I let it brew for at least five minutes. The longer you wait the stronger it gets.
Frances likes her tea without sugar or milk. So odd! For the rest of us, put a splash of milk in the cup first, warm 15 seconds in the microwave, then add the nicely brewed tea. Don’t forget to use a strainer when pouring! The holes in the spout of your teapot are not there to catch unwanted leaves, they just help regulate the flow of tea. By the way, you can use Irish tea brands, these are good too. Add sugar to taste, although I don’t.
I’ve been told by posher Brit chums that putting milk in first is a very working class thing to do, and not the done thing in upper class society. Not that I’m against societal aspirations but, at the risk of betraying my origins, I put in the milk first because it gives you a better mix of liquids. So there. And if you’re American, who cares anyway, just enjoy your cuppa!