The British drink a total of 165 million cups of tea every day, which is equivalent to drinking 2.5 cups per capita. This shows the importance of tea drinking to the daily life of the British! British actor – Andy Callaghan even said “If the day is a sentence, tea for me is the punctuation.”
British tea lovers drink different types of tea at different times of the day. Breakfast tea in the UK consists of Assam and Ceylon teas, while afternoon tea is dominated by light Darjeeling Spring tea or jasmine tea; some people prefer teas with low theophylline content in the evening, such as oolong tea. In addition, the British also use different teapots for different categories of tea. “as English as a cup of tea”, let us take a look at the tea culture that belongs to Britain!
What is British Tea?
History of British Tea Culture
The custom of drinking tea dates back to China in the third millennium AD, but it wasn’t until the mid-17th century that tea first arrived in England.
The history of English tea culture dates back to 1600, when the Dutch East India Company began trading with the world and stumbled across tea in Japan. In 1662, the Portuguese princess Catherine of Braganza, who married into England, brought the tea drinking habit into the court.
Since the Indian port city of Bombay became part of Catherine’s dowry, tea became more popular among the aristocrats at the time, which subsequently had a major impact on the development of the British Empire and the history of India.
However, fine bone china pottery was often burst by the heat of freshly brewed tea, which inspired the English in the 17th and 18th centuries to add milk, reducing the temperature of the tea and thereby preventing cups from breaking. In addition to preventing teapots from cracking, adding milk also helped reduce astringency in black tea.
Tea was originally a luxury item for the upper classes in England, but eventually the increased demand for tea made it affordable for everyone.
As tea requires the use of boiled water, the habit of drinking raw water was changed indirectly, and diseases transmitted through untreated water were reduced as a result. In addition, combined with the temperance movement that advocated abstinence from alcohol in the early 1800s, tea drinking gradually became the daily life of the British.
In addition to the tearooms and afternoon tea shops that can be seen everywhere on the street, office workers can also simply make a cup of tea in the office. Someone joked that “if you have any problems with the British, just have a cup of tea!”
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In the heart of Britain, where time dances slowly, you’ll find the eloquent embrace of British Tea Culture. Amidst the whispering leaves and porcelain cups, it’s a romance woven by tradition, where scones crumble like secrets and Earl Grey flows like poetry.
Tea Classroom – British Tea
Other Little Secrets of British Tea Culture
London’s first teahouse – British Tea Culture
In 1706, Thomas Twining opened the first tea shop in London. In 1720, due to the popularity of adding milk and sugar, black tea became the variety of choice, gradually replacing green tea. As tea became more popular among the elite, its price was driven down as its imports increased dramatically, and by 1750, tea drinking became the social norm of all class groups.
English Tea in the Industrial Revolution – British Tea Culture
By the early 19th century, tea had become the drink of everyday life for labourers. The caffeinated tea provided warmth, comfort and extra motivation to workers who worked long hours during the Industrial Revolution. At the time, drinking tea also helped reduce diseases associated with poor water quality due to urbanisation. Since water must be boiled to brew tea, many water-borne diseases are killed in the process, such as dysentery and cholera, so tea was regarded to have medicinal benefits at that time.
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English Breakfast Tea
English breakfast tea is a blend of four different types of black tea, Assam, Ceylon, Kenya and Keemun. These four black teas also have different characteristics: Assam has a ripe malt fruit aroma; Ceylon has different flavours due to different regions of production, for the representative Kenyan black tea, it has fruity and floral aromas; Keemun has a woody lemon fragrance. With such a rich tea combination, along with added milk and sugar is a cup of authentic English breakfast tea.
English Afternoon Tea
The concept of afternoon tea was proposed by Anna Maria (Duchess of Bedford). In the early days, the British only used to eat two meals, breakfast and dinner. The Duchess felt a lack of energy, so she began to invite friends to the house for tea and snacks in the afternoon. Soon other aristocratic hostesses also began to follow the Duchess’s own afternoon tea party concept.
Afternoon tea used to be a very popular pastime, where most people would drink a cup of tea, enjoy a sandwich and a piece of cake. The traditional “afternoon tea” is usually enjoyed in hotels, cafes and teahouses. A typical afternoon tea usually consists of tea with a milk and sugar provided on the side, paired with traditional British sandwiches (cucumber, eggs, tuna or ham), cakes and scones.
Traditional English afternoon tea also places great importance on the teapot used for brewing tea. Teapots can be made of metal, pure silver, or porcelain. Metal teapots can keep the tea hot for a longer period, ensuring that the tea remains warm even during conversation, without cooling down easily.
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Century-old British Tea Brands
The British tea beverage market is dominated by five major brands—PG Tips, Tetley, Typhoo, Twinings, and Yorkshire Tea. Each brand boasts a unique history and distinctive qualities. Here’s a brief introduction to these brands:
Twinings – British Tea Brand1
With a rich history spanning 300 years, Twinings is one of the world’s oldest tea companies. This reliable British tea brand not only upholds an incredible tradition but has also been family-operated for over ten generations. Since 1837, Twinings has held a Royal Warrant, making it one of the representatives of British tea culture. They offer a variety of tea blends, allowing consumers to savor tea cultures from around the world.
Yorkshire Tea – British Tea Brand2
Yorkshire Tea is a beloved British tea brand known for providing pure and simple tea. They are committed to offering high-quality tea that ensures every cup delivers exceptional taste and quality. This brand is especially suitable for those seeking the authentic taste of British tea.
PG Tips – British Tea Brand3
PG Tips is a brand that emphasizes sustainability, with a commitment to Rainforest Alliance certification for all their teas. They not only focus on the quality of their teas but also on environmental protection and ecological balance. PG Tips offers a diverse range of products, catering to various tea preferences.
Tetley – British Tea Brand4
Tetley is a significant player in the British tea market with a history dating back 180 years. They offer a wide range of tea choices, from classic black tea to herbal blends, catering to various taste preferences. Tetley also places a strong emphasis on sustainability, ensuring the quality and sustainability of their teas.
Typhoo – British Tea Brand5
Typhoo is another popular British tea brand, tracing its roots back to 1903. They are known for their unique blends and tea bag designs, offering a variety of flavor options to suit different preferences. Typhoo actively engages in social and environmental sustainability initiatives, providing consumers with high-quality tea choices.
These five brands collectively represent the rich tea culture and historical traditions of Britain. Whether you prefer traditional flavors or are concerned about sustainability, you can find suitable choices among these brands. Their presence enriches British tea culture and offers diverse tea experiences for tea enthusiasts worldwide.
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In the heart of rolling green hills and quaint cottages, British tea culture dances through time. It’s a sip of history, a crumpet of tradition, and the comforting embrace of afternoon tea under the warm gaze of the English sun.
ABoxTik, the Taiwanese tea specialist
Just as the British cannot live without black tea, Taiwanese also have the same precious emotion for the tea produced in Taiwan. No matter where the tea culture comes from, it is worth knowing and tasting. ABoxTik strictly selects local teas and herbal teas from Taiwan, including Green Jade Oolong Tea, Dongding Oolong, Jinxuan Oolong, and Dongpian Sijichun etc. Welcome to ABoxTik’s official website to discover our range of Taiwanese tea and gift boxes on offer.