And so it begins. I have begun my mission to find the best tea rooms in Britain. It will take a while, cost a lot of money and I’m sure I’ll pay the price on my waistline, but in order to do this I have to determine the 5 fundamentals – the elements that make or break the Great British cuppa. And I think I might have nailed it.

1. The Tea: Loose leaf vs Tea bag

It’s pretty obvious really, but the type of tea given to you at a tea rooms is the single most important factor. I don’t want to spend £2 on a tea bag in a mug when i can simply buy a whole box of those for £1.49 in Tesco. I want loose leaf tea, I want large leaves, and I also want a good selection too. A tea menu is a dream. And a ‘house blend’ is a lovely bonus.

2. The Strainer

All good loose leaf tea needs a strainer. One that sits nicely over a cup without needing to be held is a great strainer, but any sieve-like device will certainly suffice. I don’t want to share my strainer with my husband who is having a different type of tea because no one enjoys cross contamination. If you aren’t served loose leaf and you’ve got a tea bag to contend with, a small rubbish plate is absolutely essential. I don’t need my tea bag to brew for the entire length of time it takes me to drink my tea, thank you very much!

3. It's all about the spout!

You can’t have a good teapot without a good spout. It’s as simple as that.

4. Extra hot water

The leaves are brewing in the teapot and your nattering away to one another when, before you know it, your tea has effectively been brewing for 20 minutes leaving a horrid bitter taste in your mouth. Fear not though,  an extra pot of hot water on the table will really make a difference and make that over-brewed and bitter tea a thing of the past. If a tea rooms give you hot water as standard, that’s a massive bonus.

5. Tea cup and saucer

Call me old fashioned but there is nothing better than drinking a cup of tea out of a bone china cup. Mugs and tea rooms are a no-no I’m afraid, and the more mismatched cup and saucer the better.

So, there you have it. The 5 afternoon tea fundamentals. Have I missed anything? I know I have mainly focussed on the tea but I really do think that is the single most important factor. What do you think?

Photo by Danielle MacInnes, Jorge Garcia, Seb Cumberbirch and Alice Pasqual on Unsplash