60 billion cups of tea were made in the UK last year, with 97% of them made at home. If the English are oft-stereotyped as a nation of tea drinkers, then we must admit – takes a sip absent-mindedly, realises cup is empty, puts the kettle on again – it is rather difficult to argue in the face of such compelling evidence.
(Mental note: next time you are brewing a cup in your kitchen, watch out for someone in the front garden furiously scribbling on a clipboard.)
The truth is, Fortnum's is just as obsessive about tea, if not more so. We’ve been obsessing about it for more than three hundred years, in fact, beginning long before clipboards were even invented. It is perfectly possible that our own staff’s relentlessly enthusiastic consumption makes up several billion of those recorded cups.
We also know that when it comes to making the perfect cup of tea, it’s never just about the tea itself. It stands to reason that tea as extraordinary as Fortnum’s tea – and it really is extraordinary, as we are sure you already agree – needs an extraordinary teacup to match. And saucer, teapot, milk jug, tea strainer... and, well, you get the idea.
When assembling one’s brewing accoutrements, it is important to account for seven important steps in a cup of tea’s lifecycle. Of course it is no coincidence that seven is a magic number: there are seven days of the week, seven colours of the rainbow, seven continents, and seven brides for seven brothers (all of whom we’re certain were partial to a good cup).
Boil. Brew. Serve. Sip. Store. Keep.