Tuesday, 14 June 2016

A Nice Cup of Tea

A Nice Cup of Tea - 10 Teatastic Facts

Every day is a battle of wills in our house between myself, a person wanting a cup of tea, and Anthony, someone who doesn't want to go and make me that tea. I usually emerge triumphant, but it doesn't make the process any less nail biting!

In celebration of today's victory, here are ten cool (hot?) facts about tea:

#10. Brits drink 165 million cups of tea a day.


That's 60.2 billion a year as a nation, or around 876 cups each - enough to fill two bathtubs. Tea consumption has actually fallen a lot over the last few decades; your average Brit drank 23 cups of tea a week in 1973, compared to just 8 today. Coffee still has a lot of catching up to do though - as a nation we're only drinking 70 million cups of coffee a day. (If the figures don't quite add up, blame the fact I pulled them from different studies!)

#9. But Turkey loves tea more.


In the UK we're consuming around 4.281 pounds of tea per person, per year. In Turkey that figure is 6.961 pounds. Morocco, Ireland, and Mauritania also consume more tea per head than the UK. Worldwide, tea is the second most consumed drink, after water.

#8. Salt and ...Sugar?


The most common way to drink tea in the UK is with milk and two [teaspoonfuls of sugar]. But in some places salted tea is the way to go. Mongolia is famed for its milky suutei tsai, and it is common to take tea with salt across South Asia.

#8. There are over 3,000 varieties of tea.


They come from the same basic type of plant, the Camellia Sinensis, and are divided into five basic categories: black, green, oolong, white, and puer. The vast majority of the tea consumed in the UK is black, meaning the leaves have been allowed to undergo full oxidation.

miniature tea making scene
The tea corner in my 1/6 scale kitchen.

#7. During WW2 tea was rationed.


In 1938 the UK accounted for half of all imports of black tea. Given the difficulty of importing goods after the outbreak of war, tea went on the ration in July 1940 at 2 oz per adult, per week. Rationing continued after the war but the weekly allowance was increased to 2.5 oz until dock strikes in Calcutta and Colombo in 1947 brought it back down to 2 oz. There was another brief increase to 2.5 oz between December 1949 and June 1950, then it remained at 2 oz until it was finally taken off ration in Octber 1952.

#6. The teabag has been around since 1901.


Roberta C. Lawson and Mary Molaren of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, filed a US patent for a 'tea-leaf holder' made of an open-meshed woven cotton bag in 1901. It failed to take off and the tea bag's invention is usually claimed to be an accident - Thomas Sullivan, a New York tea merchant, was sending out tea samples in little silk bags. When customers started putting the bag straight in the pot, he realised he was on to something clever and switched to gauze bags. These, followed by paper bags, were in commercial production in the USA by the 1920s, and eventually crossed the pond as a futuristic seeming time saver introduced by Tetley in 1953. It took some getting used to: in the early 1960s teabags accounted for just 3% of British tea sales. Today around 96% of our tea comes in tea bags! (source)

#5. Tea has been drunk since 1500 BC.


The practice originated in China where tea was drunk for medicinal purposes, and there is written evidence confirming tea drinking before the second century BC. From China the practice spread throughout the East, and was brought to the West by merchants in the 16th century. Tea reached the UK in the 1650s, and by 1750 had overtaken gin as the nation's favourite beverage, with imports quadrupling between 1720 and 1750 alone.

#4. 'I'm a Little Teapot' isn't the only tea song.


Written by George Harold Sanders and Clarence Kelley in 1939, I'm a Little Teapot quickly became popular in its native USA as well as further afield. Tea for Two, a song from the musical No, No, Nanette, had already taken audiences by storm in 1925, and in the decades which followed everyone who was anyone recorded a song abut tea. From Jack Buchanan (Everything Stops For Tea, 1935) to The Kinks (Have a Cuppa Tea, 1971) to Nirvana (Pennyroyal Tea, 1993). My personal favourite is A Nice Cup of Tea (1937) by British songstress Binnie Hale:

You can talk about your science, and your airships in the sky
I can do without the wireless, and you'll never see me fly
The public benefactor of the universe for me
Is the genius that thought of pouring water onto tea!

#3. Milk is a class issue.


I know, what in Britain isn't!? But starting with milk served a very practical purpose in the early days of British tea drinking - your imitation Chinese porcelain was liable to crack if the hot tea was poured in first. By putting your milk in last, you were telling the world that your porcelain was the real, incredibly expensively imported, deal. This made milk second the 'correct' way to make tea, and a sign you were a true member of the genteel classes. I've always made tea milk first, thus revealing my lower class origins.

PG Tips Monkey
PG Tips Monkey.

#2. PG Tips is the UK's favourite brew.


But Twinings isn't far behind, selling itself as a premium - yet affordable - cuppa. Although their market share has really skyrocketed over the last decade or so, Twinings actually established the first known tea shop in the UK way back in 1706.

#1. Tea has more caffeine than coffee.


But only in its dry form. Smaller quantities of tea are used to brew however, and once prepared a cup of tea in the UK contains an average of 40 mg of caffeine per cup vs. 105 mg in a cup of coffee. For a truly caffeine free cuppa, switch to herbal teas which are made from different plants. (source)


How do you take your tea?



For more British food trivia, click the following picture:
The Fic Writer's Guide To Britain






43 comments:

  1. Well I never knew all that about tea! My mum is a huge tea fan and will be very interested. I imagine she will start drinking it with salt! #BloggerClubUK (scamperandtwirl)

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    1. I'm just a sucker for trivia - even though I can never remember it! x

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  2. Recently started drinking rooibos in the evening....might even start making a pot just for me! #BloggerClubUK

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  3. An interesting read about my favourite drink :) No sugar, a very small amount of milk #BloggerClubUK

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  4. Well for me it has to be decaf in teabag form (I'm not fussy about brands), teabag squeezed out a *lot* (decaf seems a bit weaker) and enough milk to bring the temperature down to just the right side of hot to be drinkable. Weaned myself from two to zero sugars years ago. I love the fact about why it's considered 'the done thing' to pour the milk in second - I never knew that! Thanks for linking up to #thetruthabout again Jess X

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    1. I like my tea really weak too - my dad always complains that I might as well not put any tea in it! :)

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  5. Some fab facts. I'm a huge tea lover and I drink all sorts, but my favourite is a nice cup of Earl Grey, no milk and a spoonful of honey.

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    1. I've never tried honey in tin, but a lot of my friends swear by it!

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  6. I had no idea about the milk!! I always put ours in last :) so I guess that means we are landed gentry ...lol! Thanks for joining us at #BloggerClubUK hope to see you again this week X

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    1. When I was at uni I went to a lecture on commodities and conspicuous consumption, which had quite a bit on the early tea and porcelain trades. It was really interesting!

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  7. I love my cuppa, and think I have a tea addiction. I most certainly have more than 8 cups (mugs) a day as I need at least 3 before I get going in the morning. I take mine milk and none, and I've always added milk second, so does that make me upper class? Probably the only time I'm considered in that class 😉 interesting post about my favourite (non alcoholic) beverage # KCACOLS

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  8. What a fab post, very unusual but fun. I can't believe Turkey drink more than tea than us, surely not #KCACOLS

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    1. I was surprised by how big a margin it is, too!

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  9. I didn't know about the milk first or not and it shows your background. I am doing the posh way! Somehow, I knew I was a princess deep-down ahaha. Thanks for these interesting facts #KCACOLS

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    1. xD The royal blood will always show through!

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  10. Well, I never knew that about the milk! I usually put it in first (mainly because I always misjudge how much space to leave for milk otherwise) but I am obviously very lower class! :) A great article! #KCACOLS

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    1. To my mind milk first just tastes better - we're always having debates on it in the break room at work though!

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  11. Very interesting. I always assumed Britain was the highest tea drinker population, (aside from Asia's green tea). I always put the milk in second, I find that putting the milk in first lets less tea out of the tea bag, so its never as strong. Or maybe I'm just high class!!! ;-) I like that one, I will use that fact in future, thank you.
    Amanda. #kcacols

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    1. I think that's probably why I like the milk in first - I prefer my tea to be really weak! x

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  12. I always put the milk in last, looks like I'm a classy lady lol. I knew there were a lot of varieties of tea, but didn't know it was as many as 3000.
    #KCACOLS

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    1. It's pretty mind boggling, isn't it?

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  13. OOh I LOVE a cup of tea! I love it so much that I named my blog after it and I recently wrote a post about 11 reasons to love tea! But I never knew that fact about some countries using SALT with their tea! How bizarre! I love my tea strong and with a little milk (added at the end so I'm posh!) #KCACOLS x

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    1. Apparently it helps people retain the liquid better in hot countries, but I still don't think it would be enough to justify the taste for me! x

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  14. wow, interesting that Turkey drinks more! I cant stand tea! people think I am odd lol. #KCACOLS

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    1. I'm the same with coffee - just the smell of it is too much for me!

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  15. How interesting to read about the milk/tea thing being a class issue! I don't drink tea often, but here at home I just have it straight. Whenever I'm overseas, though, I totally drink it all the time and pour on the milk!

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    1. I can't drink it without milk - it just seems wrong!

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  16. I do enjoy a nice cup of tea! I think i prefer coffee though. Some interesting facts though, not sure about salty tea though! Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next Sunday.

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  17. 60.2 billion a year? And only half of that is me! Seriously, love my tea. Coffee is a second rate citizen. Tea tea tea! #KCACOLS

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    1. Haha, that would really make you the queen of tea, I feel!

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  18. The secrets of MIF vs TIF!

    I've gone off tea recently and I have no idea why. Just doesn't taste right anymore.

    Bonus points for getting Nirvana reference into a blog on tea!

    #KCACOLS

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    1. There's always space for a Nirvana reference! ;)

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  19. I always knew I was a posh bird lol!! Definitely milk after! #KCACOLS x

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  20. Coffee lover here, but when I drink tea, it is black! I also love herbal tea in the evenings. Iced tea is always lovely as well. Thank you for the history lesson, the teacher in me loves it! #KCACOLS

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  21. See, I knew there was a whole debate over whether you should put your milk in first or last, but I had no idea of the reason why! I put the milk in last, mainly so I can judge how much to put in and not make it too milky. And we're a Glengettie family here, no PG Tips allowed! x #KCACOLS

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    1. I started putting the milk in first when I was working as a hospital 'ward hostess' for a bit in my teens. It made it so much easier, and I never went back to milk last - so now even within the family we disagree on the best way. xD

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  22. So interesting! But salted tea?? Noooo! I hate salt! I've always put milk in last, so apparently I'm genteel! But it's actually because I don't like my tea being too milky because I guessed at how much milk I wanted! #KCACOLS

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    1. That's exactly my reaction to salt in tea! Just the thought is enough for me. x

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