Recipes for Downton Abbey fans

Here are a few British-themed recipes from Stir It Up! for fans of "Downton Abbey" gearing up for season three.

6. How to pour a proper cup of tea

Nick Briggs/PBS/AP
Maggie Smith (l.) and Shirley MacLaine (r.) star on 'Downton Abbey.'

Serving English tea doesn't require wearing a fancy hat, or holding your pinky out just so. But here are a few bits of insider knowledge that will make your tea serving experience royally approved.

Step One: Boil water
Most English people I have observed do not boil their tea water on the stove top in a whistling tea kettle. Instead they use electric kettles which roar to a boil in about 3 minutes. I love this, and tosses out the old kitchen wisdom of "a watched pot never boils."

Step Two: Scald the teapot
Once the kettle boils, swish some of the water around the empty teapot and tea mugs and then dump it out. This warm up the pot and mugs a bit and will also work loose any tea scum leftover from the previously made pot, because in general no one washes out their utilitarian teapots with soap. Why bother when all it serves is tea?

Step Three: Add the tea bag to the empty pot
In most American restaurants, an order of tea will deliver a cup of hot water to your table with the tea wrapped in its pouch on the side. This is completely wrong. Do not practice this at home! English tea bags, which are string-free and come in shapes such as pyramids and circles to better allow flavors to flow into the hot water, are settled into an empty pot, and then the boiling water is poured in. Loose tea is less common now because of the mess, and tea balls are used occasionally. The English do not approve of "useless strings" on American tea bags. Very important: Lipton is not recognized as a legitimate tea by the English. I'm still fuzzy on this point, but at all costs avoid serving Lipton tea to English friends.

Step Four: Let it 'rest'
Tea is not ready to pour for at least 3 minutes. But this is your preference really, as to how strong you want to serve your tea. Right before you are ready to pour, lift the top of the tea pot and stir clockwise three times to even the flavors. Do not crush the tea leaves! This will release bitter tastes into your tea. And if you are still using tea bags with strings absolutely do not wrap the string around the bag and squeeze. The English consider this a Cruel and Unusual treatment of tea leaves.

Step Five: The order of milk
Milk (or if you must, cream) should cover just the bottom of your tea cup or mug before you pour in the tea. If you are skipping the teapot step, scald your mug, add your tea bag, and then the boiling water. Milk will go in last.

Step Six: Weakest cups are first
Serve anyone who doesn't like their tea strong first since the brew in the pot will quickly gain strength.

Step Seven: Add more hot water to your teapot
One cup of tea is hardly enough so after you have poured the first round, add more hot water to the tea pot and let it steep.

Congratulations, you now know the secrets of making a "real" cup of tea. This will enable you to win friends and influence enemies with aplomb.

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Dear Reader,

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“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

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