Milk in tea, indeed. Teabags, indeed. All the pretentious fastidiousness in the world won't make a proper cup of tea that way, so you can all stop arguing.

Heyoka is dead on the ball - tea bags are the spawn of the devil. The smell and taste nothing like real tea - especially the popular UK brands like Barry's, Tetley et al. Use good quality loose leaf tea, bought in small quantities - it doesn't keep very well and you can't stick it in the freezer the way you can with coffee.

Take a small ceramic teapot - the size usually used for a single cup - and put one to two heaped teaspoons of tea leaves in it. Cover with scalding water straight off the boil. Now, place an asbestos or wire-mesh diffuser over one of your gas rings, lower the flame to minimum and place the teapot, water, tea and all, on top.

You eventually develop a feel for how long it takes the tea to be ready with your teapot, your stove etc. Anyway, it's ready when all the tea leaves are floating foamily at the top. Try not to let it overboil and spill all over the stove - makes for weaker tea and a very dirty stove.

Now - this is the essence of the tea. You know Russian Samovars? The ones with the little kettle on top? That's what the little kettle is for. You pour a bit of the essence - to taste - into cups or, even better, thin glasses in brass or silver holders, and top up with yet more boiling water.

Now to drink - don't put sugar in the tea! Place a a fine white sugar cube in your mouth and sip the tea while sucking on it slightly. Alternatively, use the tea to wash down some fine fruit preserves. A winter extravangaza!

Milk in tea, indeed. Ah, the English.