To make a perfect cup of tea: Use cold tap water, as it is fresher, and let it run for a minute so that it will be aerated. If you like, you can use bottled water instead. Do not use warm tap water.
Boil water in kettle. If you are in a particularly cold climate, such as the North of England, add hot water to the tea pot until you are ready to pour in the boiling water, so that the tea pot will already be warm when you add the tea leaves.
Put 1 tablespoon of tea leaves in tea pot for 2 6-ounce servings.
Pour boiling water over tea leaves.
Allow to brew for 3 - 5 minutes, according to how much you will be cutting the tea with milk or cream. 5 minutes is only for tea that you intend to add a lot of milk or cream to. 3 minutes will allow the tea leaves to reach their optimum flavor, so it is considered the perfect brewing time.
Cover with a tea cozy in order to keep the heat in the pot.
For the cucumber sandwiches: Slice cucumber, leaving peel on. Spread butter on insides of both slices of bread for each sandwich, to taste. Usually a thin layer will suffice. Place cucumber slices in a single layer on bottom slice of buttered bread for each sandwich, covering entire slice. Put sandwiches together and remove crusts with knife. Some cucumber peel will come off too and that is the desired result. Cut sandwiches into triangles. Yield: 12 small sandwiches
For the watercress sandwiches: Repeat process as above, replacing cucumber with watercress. Yield: 12 small sandwiches.
For the smoked salmon sandwiches: Repeat process as above, replacing cucumber with salmon and butter with cream cheese. Yield: 12 small sandwiches