That's a lot of tea for our small island, but apparently we're doing it all wrong. Scientists at UCL have reported that the optimum brew takes 2-4 minutes (most of us wait about 10 seconds) and should be made in a teapot, not squished in a mug. Ooops. This is because the tea and freshly boiled water need to circulate around a teapot to release the complex flavours of the leaves. At the very least it takes 90 seconds for boiled water to draw antioxidants from the tea. It is also best not to stir teabags or tealeaves as this causes a release of tannin, which makes tea bitter. (The same natural ingredient that makes wine taste dry).
Science bit aside, British tradition (according to my granny) says the milk should be added to one's teacup or mug first. This can't be done if you make your tea directly in a mug because the milk dilutes and cools the water too soon, slowing the tea diffusion process and making a pretty tasteless cuppa. So if you have a five-a-day tea habit like me, you may be genuinely delighted to taste the difference by brewing in a proper teapot. Naturally I recomend an English fine bone china teapot to complete the authentic experience!
As a Londoner my final tip for the perfect cup of tea is to use filtered water. If you live in an area with hard water, excess minerals can cloud the full flavour of your tea (and clog up the kettle). Simply keeping a filter jug topped up in the fridge is a great solution.
So now you know the facts tea drinkers, I think it's time to put the kettle on...