Tea culture was first introduced to the United Kingdom in the 1600s, and in very little time, it became prevalent among the British. Their tea making process is not different from others. For making simple tea, a tea bag is added to boiling water, and after the tea gets ready, the bag is removed. Some add sugar and milk with the tea, while some prefer to consume it without milk and sugar. Brit’s has developed a keen sense for tea since its’ introduction. This is continued till now, and the British tea culture holds a good position globally.
Therefore, tea now becomes part and parcel of Brits’ as tea consumption becomes the habit of the countrymen. Most importantly, it is not restricted to any specific group of people. It is accepted and enjoyed by the Elite as well as the commoners and that’s the major attraction of the British Tea Culture.
Also Read : How is Tea Processed
History of British Tea
Although tea is now an indispensable part of British society, Britain’s tea culture started a little later than others. Though the history of drinking tea was introduced in the third millennium BC in China, the British tea culture was introduced in the middle of the seventeenth century.
The Portuguese have connected with China at the beginning of 1515. But the consumption of this beverage becomes famous from Asian regions and, by the way through Venice in 1560, starts hitting the European areas.
At the beginning of the seventeenth-century Portuguese and Dutch businessmen introduced tea in Europe. They imported tea along with other regular imported goods, and it took some more time to reach England. The East India Company started the tea business after realizing its’ popularity in the middle of the eighteenth century.
Most interestingly, tea became popular in England through the London coffee houses. Thomas Garway was one of the beginner traders who offered tea. In the year 1657, Garway offered both liquid tea and leaf tea to the people. After three years, he started advertising tea by highlighting some of its’ qualities. He emphasized the virtues like keeping physical energies intact with lust and continued good health before people reach their old age. This was a major milestone for building the British Tea Culture
In the early 17th century, tea was only restricted to upper-class British people. But it didn’t take much time to become popular among the commoners. After that popularity, the East India Company imported millions of tea pounds from China by the year 1750.
The East India Company soon realized the importance of tea and began to import it from India by the middle of the 18th century. They brought tea from Assam, and afterward, they started importing from Sri Lanka also.
What Does Tea Mean to Britishers
The British tea culture is something different from the tea culture of other countries. For the British people, tea is more than a regular casual energizer. For them, tea means fancy floral tea-set from China, light refreshments, and cake stands. Preparing tea only needs boiling water and tea leaves, but some etiquette should be followed while making a tea ready. A small mistake on your part can be unpardonable from the point of view of tea experts.
How To Make A Perfect British Tea?
One can only boil some water and pour it into the cup where there is already a teabag. But British tea culture doesn’t go well with the shortcut method. Therefore, to justify the British tea culture, you have to make the tea making process elite.
So, if you want to prepare it like an expert, first boil full kettle water. When water evaporates, please don’t cause any delay to pour it into the cup. Remember, the teabag should already be there in the cup. Be careful that the water doesn’t get cool, as this is a grave mistake and can destroy your tea flavor. Allow the tea sometimes for brewing before you start enjoying it.
The brewing time may vary according to the taste and strength of the teabag. This is the perfect process for making a cup of tea by following the British tea culture. But one thing should always be there in your mind that it’s better not to make tea than stewed tea.
The Importance of Milk in British Tea
Milk is a crucial tea component when you are talking about British tea culture. A cup of tea without milk is almost like England without tea. Earlier tea without milk was like an absurd idea to the Britishers. Now the question is, when will it be perfect for adding milk to the tea? This question still can’t be answered as some prefer to add milk before pouring the water, whereas some add it after pouring the water. But for the maximum time, experts like to add milk first. The reason is to protect the fancy tea-wares from getting crack due to boiling water’s direct hit.
Now, when will it be appropriate to add milk? When you are sure that brewing has been done, you can add milk. Whole milk is the first preference of the Britishers to add with a cup of tea. One can add milk according to personal taste buds. But for a novice, it will be best to go for 80:20 tea to milk proportion (The British tea culture recommendation). It would help if you remembered that you couldn’t make your tea looks as white as the inside of the cup. However, adding a small amount of milk is also very shameful, as it can ruin the strength of the tea. So, it will be safe to go for this 80:20 ratio.
What To Eat With A Cup of British Tea?
There is a myth that biscuits are there just because to be a companion of tea. Well, it is partially correct. Digestive biscuits, chocolate layer biscuits go very well with the tea in British tea culture. Some people prefer to dip the biscuit into the tea, and here is a statuary warning for them. Dipping the biscuit into the tea for more than three seconds may turn the biscuit softer. And, after that, you can’t stop it from fell inside the cup. It will not only leave you with half biscuit but simultaneously may be very embarrassing also.
Other than biscuits, one can also have a slice of cakes with tea. But if anyone wants to follow the pure British tea culture, it will be better to take a cream-filled scone along with some fruit-jam and enjoy it as an accompaniment of a cup of tea.
Mistakes Often Occur While Preparing a British Tea
Apart from the mistakes related to flavor, strength, and amount of milk, some other common errors often occur while preparing the tea in British tea culture. Sometimes while offering tea, people forget to ask everyone present there to have a cup of tea. It denotes a very callous approach and should be avoided firmly.
Some ignore personal preferences about tea. This should be maintained if you want to offer your friend and acquaintances an enjoyable tea. Another common mistake is to use the same spoon to stir tea with sugar and without sugar. Always use separate spoons to avoid this careless approach. Otherwise, you will fail to do justice to the tea culture in the United Kingdom.
The Most Popular British Tea Types
There are various types of British tea, but the one most consumed by the Britishers is the English breakfast tea. English breakfast tea is the heart and soul of British tea culture. Apart from the English breakfast tea, some other popular types of British tea are Earl grey, green tea, and herbal tea, Oolong, etc.
Also, read about the classification of tea in detail
- English Breakfast Tea
The English breakfast tea is the most consumed type of British tea. The English breakfast tea is the version of black tea and a blend of Assam, Ceylon, and Kenyan black teas imported from America. So, we can understand that it is not the own product of the UK. It is powerful and has a considerable amount of caffeine content in it than the others. It is consumed with milk and mostly comes in teabag format. Its making process involves less time and offers anyone a strong taste along with flavor.
- Earl Grey:
After the black tea, another popular one is the Earl Grey. It is believed that in 1830, China gifted this black tea to Charles Grey, the British Prime Minister of that time. Therefore, it is named after him. It is almost like black tea but is more beneficial for health. It is now served without milk and holds a dominant position in the British tea culture due to its’ flavor.
- Green Tea:
Presently health consciousness of people makes this form of tea very popular. Many pieces of evidence showing the health benefits of this tea make it popular day by day. This tea is little green in color, is less bitter, and full of natural mineral properties. Its natural flavor and refreshing taste offer the Brits a healthy and natural feeling while consuming it.
- Herbal Teas:
Herbal teas are recent additions to the types of British tea and very famous in British tea culture these days. These are formed with some herbs-based plants and also some other elements like roses. As they are not solely derived from tea leaves, some Britishers don’t want to consider them tea though.
It is a Chinese tea with semi-fragrance and usually available in loose forms. It has various types of taste like woody, thick and smokey in sweet and fruity smells.
Here we have discussed the British tea culture. As the Britishers lead a very sophisticated lifestyle, their tea culture is also not the exception. They are in the third position in the amount of tea consumption, but the tea culture in the United Kingdom makes the Brits different from other regular tea consuming cultures.