Wartime Tea Making Tips, c.1941

Drinking a cup of tea in London during the Blitz

In 1941 wartime England, the country was going through some of its darkest days. Believe or not, the simple cup of tea was extremely important to everyone, not only as a comforting solace, but as a means of reviving the spirit as well.

But even in time of war, not just any cup of tea would do – it had to be a proper cup of tea. In order to help those working in mobile canteens learn the rules of making the best cup of tea possible for troops and bombing victims alike, a short training film was created. Fortunately, this tea video survives in the BFI National Archive, and I thought you would like to see it.



As you watch the video, look for the poster on the wall behind the mad scientist tea instructor that says Tea Revives the World. The print became a rallying cry during the war, reminding people that tea would help them Keep Calm and Carry On. I’ll be talking more about the Tea Revives the World poster in the future.

Five years after this film was produced, George Orwell shared his personal tea-making tips in an essay about how to make a nice cup of tea. Those, and the ones in this video (below), are generally recognised as the golden rules for making tea.

6 tips for making proper tea

1. Always use a good quality tea

2. Always use freshly drawn water

3. Remember to warm the teapot or urn

4. Measure the right quantity of tea for the amount of water in the pot

5. The water must reach boiling point; pot-to-the-kettle, not kettle-to-the-pot

6. Let the tea brew for 5-10 minutes before serving


I hope you enjoy this nostaligic, atmospheric video on tea making tips circa 1941. Leave me a comment and let me know.


“Make every cup you make, be a cup that cheers.”


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  1. What a great video! I thoroughly enjoyed watching it.
    The top picture too is just perfect!

  2. What a wonderful video! Absolutely adore it! Amazing the role that tea played in bringing some joy and normalcy to a war torn country. Love the picture in the video of the children in their little woolen coats drinking tea. Once again, my dear….bravo! Well done and THANK YOU! I shall heed the very critical 6 step process!

  3. Insipid in taste! 🙂

  4. Any bad situation can be made better with tea, right?

  5. What a fantastic video! You have such an interesting and extremely informative blog!! I love visiting!!

  6. Wow – priceless. Everything from the music to the script is so…. quaint!
    I’m glad it survived for us to enjoy now.

  7. I hardly know whether to be delighted and instructed by this video (‘underboiled water makes the tea insipid’ — I didn’t even know the word ‘underboiled’ existed!) or to be alarmed (mad-scientist has a most worrying look of impending mental imbalance…)! Thank you for sharing this.

  8. Hi Denise!

    I’m a tea-crazy swedish girl (ehm, mayby I’m supposed to start calling myself a woman. I’m about to turn 30 in a couple of months… ;)) Anyway, I just need to say that I’m so happy I’ve found your blog. You seem to love tea as much as I do. This post about tea making in 1941 is lovely and I’ve watch the video many times on you tube. Thanks for the tip!

    Take care. /Helena

    • Hello Tea Lover Helena! I’m glad you found me (by the way, how did you find me??) and that you enjoyed the post. For more Tea in England mania, look for us on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest! xx

      • I think it was on facebook I spotted you first a couple of weeks ago and after that I found your blog. Lovely!

        I’m going to London in the end of November. Going to have afteroon tea at the dorchester but can you recommend another place too?

        • Thanks for the information, Helena. Please tell me a little bit about what types of places and things you are interested in and then I will be able to better recommend a tea venue for you. Also, your age group. 🙂

          • I don’t wan’t a modern tea room. I like cosy, old fashion tea rooms. Thats pretty much it. 🙂

            • Right then! And just one more question (sorry!). Location … London proper or will you be touring other parts of London or the country?

              • We’ll be living near paddington station and only have 4 days so London proper or somewear near/around London that doesn’t take to long to go to.

                • Helena, First of all, tea at The Dorchester will be fantastic. You’ve chosen well. London hotel teas are pretty much all fantastic. For something a bit different, I would also suggest the following. Take a look at their websites and you can make your decision based on how you feel about them.

                  1. The Tea Rooms
                  2. Soho’s Secret Tea Room
                  3. Bea’s of Bloomsbury (several locations)
                  4. High Tea of Highgate (Cream Tea only, not Afternoon Tea)
                  5. The Muffin Man (Kensington)
                  6. The Fan Museum (Greenwich)
                  7. Maids of Honour (Kew)

                  • Oh, THANK YOU! I’ll look in to theese. Heard of HIgh tea of highgate before but the others are new. Do you have any favorite of the one you listed here?
                    Yes, I think dorchester will be great. Can’t wait to go there! (Only 11 days left!!!)

                    • I have only personally been to two of these (The Muffin Man and Maids of Honour) – and of those two, I like Maids of Honour best. The tea room has been there for quite a long time. It’s lovely inside – beautiful pink chintz fabric and they serve on blue and white dishes. It’s lovely – and POPULAR. However it is a ways out from Central London. Of the remaining tearooms, the one I would like to most visit is SoHo’s Secret Tearoom because it is supposed to be every authentic 30s/40s style. Also, The Tea Rooms is supposed to be very nice. The owner has published a little cookbook of her tea room recipes and she sent me one to review. I am going to be making their lemon drizzle loaf recipe soon. 🙂

  9. Fun video and fun post. Well done! Happy Tea Day!

  10. Hi Denise!
    Back home after a lovely trip to London. Thanks for the tips about different tearooms. I wen’t to High tea of highgate and it was a LOVELY little teashop. Didn’t want to leave. 🙂 But luckly I could buy tea and two mugs with me home to Sweden so I can have my own little teashop here. 🙂

    • Hi Helena, Thanks so much for the feedback and am so glad my recommendation worked out for you! I just love mugs (or teacups) that remind me of my favourite tearoom. I wish every teashop had their own special ones. Glad you enjoyed London. It’s such a fantastic place, isn’t it. Enjoy your “High” tea! 🙂 -Denise x

  11. Don’t you wish we could speak like those ladies in the film? I really enjoy this post! Thanks. : )

  12. Really enjoying your blog. Love the You Tube for making tea during the war. If you get a chance to come to British Columbia, Canada I highly recommend Tea at the Empress Hotel in Victoria. What an experience! Keep up the great work.

    • Hi Valerie, and welcome to Tea in England! Tea at the Empress has long been on my Tea-To-Do list. Would love to visit B.C. someday. My sister lives in Washington State, and my youngest daughter is over in Fairbanks, AK.

  13. Nancy Lang says:

    Just now seeing this article, and the six-time method for making proper tea. Very enjoyable! Howrvet, I am a bit confused at the meaning of properly boiled water in rule #5, pot to the kettle, etc. To me it sounds as if the boiled water should be poured from pot to kettle???

    • Hi Nancy, Thanks for popping by and leaving a comment. ‘Pot to kettle’ means bring the teapot to the kettle [and set it on the counter] so that as soon as the water starts boiling, you can pour it immediately into the teapot, instead of carrying the kettle any distance before pouring it into the teapot, at which point the water temperature would have dropped. Does that help?

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