I can still hear my mother saying, now Elizabeth, be a good girl won’t ye, and make a nice cup of tay for your poor old mother. I think she might have been around 45 years old at the time! At quite an early age, I was taught, as were the majority of Irish daughters not so long ago, how to make a perfect "cupan tae."
Fill a kettle with cold water fresh from the faucet. Bring to a boil and be ready to use right away. While you are bringing the water to a boil, have ready a teaspoon to measure out the tea, a strainer, teapot (earthenware is best), and a tea cozy or towel. Warm the teapot by pouring in some hot water from the faucet and then pouring it out. Bring the teapot to the stove and as soon as the water boils, fill the teapot. Put one heaping teaspoon of tea per cup into the teapot, plus one more ‘for the pot’. Put lid on immediately and then cover the teapot with a cozy or towel. Keep in a warm place and let the tea steep for a five full minutes. In the meantime, prepare the cups. My mother always insisted that the milk go in before the tea. But she would never allow anyone to put in her sugar. That was ‘stirring up trouble!’ Pour plenty of milk or cream into the cup, place the strainer so it’s resting on the cup, and pour in the tea.