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
  • Thanks for the proper Irish tea education. I laughed when you mentioned the comment about the oat milk we Americans use. I buy nothing but Irish butter at the grocery store because it’s so much better than what we produce.

    Donna Martinez on

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