How to Make a Proper Cup of Irish Tea

How to Make a Proper Cup of Irish Tea

You may be under the impression that this is a simple “puff-piece” by your Rend Collective family. But we can assure you, nothing is more serious than knowing the proper way to make a cup of Irish tea.

In the U.K. and Ireland when we say tea we aren’t talking about any type of tea. Herbal teas are NOT tea— they are herbal teas. We are talking about the queen’s marvellous black tea (or if you’re really posh like our friend Alice, that sometimes means Earl Grey. But for the rest of us it’s just black tea— Darjeeling and Assam are reserved for those folks who you feel you need to get the china out for.)

When it comes to making said tea, there are rules. How closely you follow the rules will ultimately determine how close you get to the perfect cup. If you’re feeling up to the challenge, please keep reading.

First thing to know, is that there are a few social rituals surrounding our tea drinking. When you arrive at a home in Northern Ireland/Ireland you will be offered a cup of tea. You must always reject the first cup and insist you are okay without, even if you’re parched. Never fear however, it will be offered again, and when it is you’re welcome to say that “Aye, you would love a wee cup, now.”

Second, when you “wet the tay” be sure to use only boiling water. The amount that this matters cannot be overstated. If you serve lukewarm tea, that’s an immediate fail. If your water isn’t piping don’t even bother.

Third, real tea is always made in a tea pot that is gently simmered for a few minutes over a low heat. You don’t want to over steep the tea which will ultimately be bitter and likely result in your guest politely taking a few sips before leaving it behind.

Fourth, if you want to be really snobby, be sure to always put the milk before you pour the tea. UNLESS, you have gone ahead and made individual cups for tea which is an acceptable practice, but automatically loses you marks. But if you’re making individual cups, then don’t put the tea in first like a weirdo! No one wants to see a tea bag floating in cold milk at the bottom of the cup. Honestly, just barfed a little thinking about.

Five, the kind of milk matters. Most homes will serve you what Americans call 2% milk. Basically there needs to be some fat in the milk. None of this nonfat-oat-almond-milk nonsense you folks get involved with in the States. We need proper milk or again, just don’t even bother.

Finally, a real Irish cup of tea will always come with a few wee biscuits on the side, maybe even a sandwich! Not to get into it, but the English will go on and serve you a cup of tea just on it’s own like it’s no big deal. We love you guys, but definitely feel you’re missin’ a trick if we’re honest!

A few notes: if you’re going to use the word “cuppa” as in “cup o’ tea” then it MUST refer to tea. There are no “cuppa coffees” or any of that nonsense.

It’s just a wee cuppa.

Period.

Also, did you know it’s illegal in Ireland for pubs to NOT serve tea? That’s when you know it’s serious business.

Our favourite brand of tea to use is Nambarrie. If you can’t get that in where you live…. Order it on Amazon.

Once you’ve done all the above, an Irish cuppa is best enjoyed with friends and over a good chat. If you follow the rules above take a picture and tag us in it so we can see! Cheers!

Proper Irish Tea


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16 comments
  • I was befuddled about simmering the tea and boiling the water. I boiled the water first and then poured it into my TARDIS Teapot where I steeped the tea for 4 minutes (It said so, on the Nambarrie box). I can’t fully appreciate the flavor unless I let it cool a little so, my teapot is sitting there on the counter. I’m one of those weirdos that prefer lukewarm everything so I suppose I failed pretty hard. But it’s still fun to experiment!

    Sara on
  • Hello! Moose, The Duchess of Weird here again! I just bought my Nambarrie Tea yesterday, unfortunately, it isn’t scheduled to arrive until after my niece Zoey comes by the house this Saturday. I’m currently musing over whether or not it comes from Northern Ireland. Do you guys and miss missy Ali have to order it when you’re here in the states?
    It was right where youz said it would be! You can get all kinds of stuff on Amazon!!

    Maybe it’ll be here before the 18th, my ima’s (I think that’s the right spelling for mom in Hebrew or Arabic. I watch The Chosen, a freeelance show about the journey of the 12 apostles during their learnings with Jesus, and they use the language) birthday!

    She’ll be 65 and I’m sure she’ll want to be a part of my Culinary Chemistry Experiment. 😸 I told her all about it! I’m very excited to try it!
    Stay awesome my friends!
    Moose, your resident Duchess of Weird and future drummer of the Rend Collective Cover Band the Itty Bitty Ditty Committee.

    Sara on
  • First of all, let me introduce myself: My name is Sara Asilinn, but you can call me Moose. I am an American. I am a Hoosier. I am addicted to coffee and caffeine. I enjoy Culinary Chemistry which is what you guys and miss missy Ali have documented here.

    I am THE Duchess of Weird. When you use the term, “Weirdo”, you will always remember me. I’ll put cold milk in anything. I’ll put 2%, 1%, Cashew, and Oat Milk in a piping hot “cuppa” tea just for the shear FUN of it. I’m surprised you hoomans are against those non-dairy offerings considering one of you seems to participate in a “wee” competition to be the mini equivalent of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

    But then…we all have our vices…

    Second, have you ever heard of a thing called a milk frother? Have you not had a latte with sweet, smooth foam on top? You can heat up the milk or make it foamy. Try it some time. I love watching the milk turn from liquid to foam. The way it spins like a hurricane inside the barrel and magically transforms into fluffy white heaven bubbles.

    It’s like creating meringue out of egg whites and sugar. Remember, your tea exploits are Chemistry Experiments, after all.

    Third, is “tay” just “tea” with an Irish accent?? I have to keep reading that back and can’t think of anything else but-well-I just giggle. I can’t think anything but- Also, I never knew Irish folk talked in the second person. Or, are you commanding me to taste your tea? I don’t know…saying things like “wet the tay” and being stingy about your milk…(Of course, you can know I’m being facetious, because I am the Duchess of Weird after all)…I don’t remember where I was going with this.

    Fourthly, once you serve the piping hot tea, what happens if one of you talks so much and for so long it becomes lukewarm or cold? Are you culturally obligated to throw it out the window and make a new pot? Or politely ask that person to shush and go away? You did say that Irish folk like to tell stories…

    Fifthly, “gently simmered for a few minutes over a low heat…,” I went to a British Tea House in Carmel (My state, not actual England. I’m too poor to go to fancy places like that) and they sold hourglass time gauges based on the kind of tea you were making. I know you said you’re not supposed to use herbal teas and whatnot but that time gauge had precise minutes that help tea making dummies such as yours truly make a perfect cup. Pretty nifty…

    Second to lastly, I really do admire your attention to detail. Culinary Chemistry is such a great way to spend time together! Food and drink is the best chance to connect with anyone especially strangers! We all gotta eat and drink to live, don’t we?! That’s why I love you minstrels!

    Lastly, if you can’t get your friends to slow down from their busy lives and your house is cluttered and stinky with cat pee smell that never seems to disappear even if you clean and clean and clean it, can you have tea time with your אחיינית and your אמא? I’m learning Hebrew in case you actually see the symbols. I wanted to write “ima”, the Hebrew or Arabic word for mother but I don’t know which one it is…the other little one is my niece Zoey who, you will be glad to know loves to do the tea thing!

    I am tempted to go my own way as expressed above with this Culinary Chemistry Experiment but since I love and respect you as fellow God created hoomans, I will accept your challenge! I am always eager to experiment and try new ventures especially with food and especially from other cultures!

    I didn’t see the disclaimer down below about the comments being approved until late so to whoever is reading this, either way: I sure hope you have a beautifully, glorious day! You’ve got some really great TAFC’s (Teacher’s Aides For Christ) on your team!

    Stay awesome my friends!

    Sara Asilinn on
  • Thank you for this lovely article on tea! Quick question: Not Barry’s or Lyon tea? When we were in Ireland last year, that is all we were served. It was so good! God bless you all today!

    Teresa Brubaker on
  • Thank you for this lovely article on tea! Quick question: Not Barry’s or Lyon tea? When we were in Ireland last year, that is all we were served. It was so good! God bless you all today!

    Teresa Brubaker on

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