Making a Cup of Tea


Contributor: Nicky Meer, University of Cumbria,


Ingredients (any equipment or supplies needed for the activity) A4 sheet of answers (Two sided)
Serves as a main course  90 minute workshops or longer for more people.

Method (what you do): Give out A4 sheet of answers and ask people to read through them and give a mark out of 10. The text below between the two lines of asterix can be reproduced on a hand out.  Once they have marked the answers we gather together people’s scores and reflect on similarities and more importantly differences in grading. The facilitators takes a very back seat for the majority of this session.


Marking/Grading exercise

Q ‘Write a short paragraph on how to make a cup of tea’

This assessment should be around 100 – 150 words.

The answer should include personal preferences and/or explore a variety of approaches.

This assessment fulfils Learning Outcome One:  Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of individual preferences and diversity of approaches to everyday activities

 Grade the following submissions out of 10 (4 is the pass mark)

  • I do not like tea I like coffee. If I had to make a cup of tea then it would be for my dad who likes tea. He likes Yorkshire tea best and he likes it first thing in the morning before work best and he slurps it whilst it is too hot. My mum drinks tea too but not as much as my dad. When I make a cup of tea I put the kettle on to boil, put a bag in the cup, pour over and add milk and 2 sugars for my dad. I take the bag out after it gets dark but once I left the bag in and my dad still drank it even when he was splashed, it was funny. I drink coffee. (130)
  • Tea is a drink that is drinked throughout the world. There are different ways of making tea depending on what you like best. Most differences in tea are wether you want milk or not or wether you want sugar or not but there are more choices than that. Some people drink green tea rather than proper tea. This is an Asian thing to do. Making tea is simple and I am great at it. You have to make sure the water is very hot in fact boiling hot and pour the water into the cup with the tea bag before you put in the milk. Some people put milk in first but this is wrong. Tea is better for you than coffee is. To conclude tea is a drink that you usually have in the morning. (137)
  • Please accept this short paragraph as a summary of how a cup of tea could be made.

Drinking tea is very popular in the UK although tea does not usually come from the UK. There are different types of tea such as tea bags, loose tea and twynings but I will look at normal tea that is traditionally drunk in the UK. 1) Boil the kettle 2) select tea types (Bags is easiest) put in cup and pour over boiling water – take care! 3) Add milk, sugar or lemon depending on your personal taste. To conclude this is a short summary instructing people how to make tea. (108)

  • Tea derives from Asian countries such as India and China and is a very popular drink in Britain. There are many types of tea available nowadays such as green, Earl Grey, Peppermint etc. and my favourite is ASDA Gold bags. Tea is a personal and therefore individual drink and how you prefer it will change how you make it. I make a cup of tea every morning by pouring boiling water over a tea bag in my favourite mug, leaving for 3 minutes, stirring, adding a small amount of milk and one sweetener, stirring again and then waiting for it to cool just a little so you do not burn your lip. (103)
  • Making a cup of tea is a very individualistic practice and this paragraph simply outlines how tea is usually drunk in Britain. Firstly, boil water in your kettle. Get a cup or mug, place the loose leaf tea or tea bag into the cup, pour over water, stir and add milk etc. according to taste. In Britain, tea is just a good drink and hot for our cold weather. In other countries tea is more significant and cultural and the making of it is far more important than just how it tastes. There are far more varieties of tea than you think – we usually drink black tea but there is green and white tea too. There are also lots of herbal drinks that are called tea but do not contain the tea plant. (134)


  • Pour freshly boiled water directly onto your teabag in a mug. This way the tea infuses better than adding the teabag to water. Leave to brew for 4-5 minutes according to taste. Remove the teabag with a spoon giving it just one gentle squeeze. Miffy or Tiffy? People are very particular about their tea, but there’s one aspect of tea making that really sparks debate... milk or tea first? ‘Miffy or Tiffy?’, we call it. You’re bound to have your own theory, and if tea is brewed in a pot, there is no definitive right or wrong answer. If you’re making tea in a cup though, it’s never milk first - it reduces the water temperature so it doesn’t brew properly. (122)


  • The cultural significance and impact of tea globally is enormous. Most tea comes from Asian countries and my favourite comes from Sri Lanka (Ceylon tea) in loose leaf form, second grade. I first drank ‘proper’ tea on holiday in Sri Lanka and was educated into the correct ways of making it according to their traditions. According to experts Tea originated in China, possibly as a medicinal It came to the West via Portuguese priests and merchants, who introduced it during the 16th century.  Drinking tea became fashionable among Britons during the 17th century, who started large scale production and commercialization of the plant in India to bypass a Chinese monopoly at that time.  (115)
  • You start with fresh, cold water. Run the tap for a few seconds before putting into the kettle in order to get the more aerated water otherwise your tea can taste a little flat. Fill the kettle and boil. Whilst waiting, place one heaped teaspoon of loose tea per person plus one ‘for the pot’ into your cold, freshly washed teapot. Use glass cups or mugs as ceramic or china ones can have a taste whereas glass ones do not. Make sure your teapot has a cosy on to keep it warm, pour into your cup through a fine mesh called a strainer to ensure you do not get the actual leaves into your drink. Good tea should not need milk or sugar – cheap tea does and you add according to taste. (133)


Exercise – In small groups discuss what you graded them. Although there is no right or wrong – you were not given level or grading criteria so cannot get it ‘right’, highlight any common and similar grades and explore why and then focus on the ones that there are differences. What could this tell you about what you are looking for in an answer?

Special Notes: I usually do this as a standardisation activity with small academic teams. No right or wrong – just enables a deep reflection and discussion on what we really are marking for/looking for. Can be used for: Marking and Feedback calibration, introducing new staff members into their community marking ‘norms’, introduction activity for new staff.

You can add or take away answers to fit your timeframe and/or focus.

Issues usually raised include:

  • How do we grade for spelling/grammar errors? (we say we do not but many of us do)
  • Answers all parts of the set question?
  • Grading to set question or actual Learning Outcome?
  • Organisation and planning of the answer important?
  • Personal likes and dislikes?

 Acknowledgements: I wrote this on my own as a way of exploring important and deep issues around marking and feedback in a non-threatening and playful way, but I am sure others before me would have had a similar ideas.

References: None that I am aware of for this small exercise but I am more than happy to share my use of this in practice with anyone who is interested.

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