How to make a decent cup of tea or coffee

Tea on the left, coffee on the right

It has become apparent to me that making a nice cup of tea or coffee does not come naturally to some people.

Perhaps I am ‘over egging’ the thought process here, but some people make tea and coffee and it tastes delicious, others make them and they taste… mediocre at best.

What is the difference? Surely, it is the process of making the drinks. The fault cannot inherently lie with the maker of them. Therefore, certain steps must be learned in order to make a hot beverage which is not only drinkable at a push, but also beautifully tasty.


Always boil water that’s fresh from the tap. It tastes better. Science says so.

Fill the kettle and boil it. Someone will usually want to use the hot water left over, or you can make yourself some porridge or a hot water bottle. Sure, it takes a bit longer & uses more water but not as bad as boiling a mug ful of water only to realise you want more boiling water for something, then have to refill and boil from cold!

Use a mug. Tea cups are teeny. Mugs are the great hot beverage champions of this century. You’re going to be making a fucking awesome cuppa. You don’t want the experience to end prematurely now, do you?

Make sure the mug is completely clean & stain free. Nothing worse than crap round the rim or handle of your cuppa, or reaching the end only for the bottom of the mug to bear the stained, cooked on remnants of a myriad cuppas past. Ok, there’s a lot of things that are worse, but still. It’s annoying.

So, you have a clean mug, and fresh boiled water. Lovely.

While the water is boiling you should be busying yourself with tea preparation. Select which tea you want (‘straight’, earl grey, lady grey, Darjeeling, Ceylon etc) and place the tea bag into the mug.

Do you take sugar? Now is the time to put it in. Don’t be tempted to add the sugar after the water, that’s just silly talk.

Firstly, the steam from the tea rises and melts some of the sugar on to the spoon as you hover over the lug, meaning you don’t get a full spoonful anyway; secondly, if you have more than one spoon of sugar you’re going to be dipping your tea drenched or at least steam soiled spoon back into the sugar container. Yuk. Minuscule tea globules roaming the sugar canister. Disgusting.

No, definitely sugar in with the bag first. Then water.

Once the water’s boiled, pour into the mug. Fill so you leave a gap of approx one inch from the mug rim. This gives you space for adding your milk.
Add the milk after removing the tea bag. Adding milk while tea bag is still in situ is just FREAKY WEIRD.

You must not remove said tea bag until at least 30 seconds has elapsed. This allows the tea goodness to seep into the surrounding water, aided by your stirring with a teaspoon if you wish and even some tea bag squishing and prodding.

Then you may remove tea bag. Don’t just casually lift tea bag from the mug with your spoon, you’ll get tea drips all over the place and also remove more yummy tea juice than necessary. Instead, using your teaspoon, squish tea bag against inner side of the mug near the top, using the spoon to make the used bag as small and compact as possible.

Then remove from mug with spoon and dispose of. In the bin, not on the side! What are you, a bachelor? Oh you are. Well, that’s not surprising.
You’re now ready to add milk. Remember: you can always add but you can’t take away. Somewhat cautiously tip some milk into your mug of delicious tea-juice. The colour should change from the dark amber of tea, to a shade resembling digestive biccie brown. This can obviously be tailored based on your own taste preference.

Voilà! You have made the perfect cup of tea. Well done!

Now put the milk back in the fridge you lazy git.


Coffee is somewhat different to prepare than tea, and I don’t just mean using coffee instead of tea bags.

You do need to once again, boil fresh water.

In your mug you will place a teaspoon of coffee granules. I find Carte Noire simply scrumptious, but I’ll allow you to use your preference. Note: catering packs of instant coffee will be bland, coffee loses it’s strength over time once opened to the air.

So you have a spotlessly clean mug with a teaspoon of coffee in. Good.

Now is the important part. Add milk. Yes, before the water! Add milk to the coffee in the mug so that you have about an inch of milk & granules combo in the mug base.

This is important as the coffee granules, soaked in cold milk, are not subjected to the boiling water unprotected and therefore burned and the taste ruined.
I can always tell when someone has ‘burnt the coffee’. Not a euphemism.

Once the kettle has boiled, top up your mug with the hot water, stirring as you go to help the granules dissolve.

You may wish to leave some space so you can top up with milk, achieving the perfect mix for your taste. I like my coffee to be vanilla fudge coloured.


Oh and if you’re making tea and coffee in the same round, please use a different spoon for the tea than the coffee!

There you have it. You are now learned in the art of making tea and coffee. Put the kettle on, I fancy a brew!

Do you have a different way of making tea or coffee? Expert tips? What’s your morning brew? Leave your comment below.



  1. Well it does depend where you live what is considered a nice cup of tea. Tea with milk is called baby tea over here 😉 So for me the rest fits just perfectly, just without the milk!

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