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Tea in the UK

Updated: Dec 22, 2022


Tea in the UK
Tea in the UK

Tea first arrived in Britain in the 1660s, when King Charles II married the Portuguese Infanta Catherine of Braganza, who introduced the beverage to the royal court. Tea became increasingly popular among all social classes throughout the 18th century. It was initially expensive and only affordable to the upper classes, but cheaper teas were eventually imported from India and China. By 1800, tea had become the national drink of Britain.


The British love affair with tea is often credited with helping to spread its popularity around the world. British traders and colonists introduced tea production to many countries, including India and Sri Lanka. Today, tea is grown in more than 30 countries and is enjoyed by billions of people every day.


In Britain, tea drinking is often associated with a traditional afternoon tea, which typically includes finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, and cake. Afternoon tea was introduced in the early 1840s by Anna Maria Russell, Duchess of Bedford. The Duchess found herself feeling hungry around 4pm each day and would often order light snacks to be brought to her room. She began inviting friends to join her for “tea and a walk” and the tradition soon became fashionable among the British aristocracy.


And thereafter, Tea quickly became a staple of British culture, and over the years it has come to be associated with many different aspects of British life. From high society to working class culture, tea drinking is an important part of British identity.

Today, there are hundreds of different varieties of tea available on the market. But despite all the new choices, traditional English Breakfast Tea remains the most popular type of tea in the UK.


Brewing the perfect cup of tea is a ritual that many Brits take very seriously. The key to a good cup of tea is using fresh, cold water and allowing the leaves to steep for 3-5 minutes. And of course, there’s the all-important question of milk or no milk? While some prefer their tea black, most Brits add a splash of milk to their brew.


There are many different types of tea available on the market, but when it comes to the British palate, there are three main varieties that reign supreme:


Black Tea: This is the most popular type of tea in the UK and is typically made with Assam or Ceylon tea leaves. Black tea is full-bodied and has a rich flavor.


Green Tea: Green tea is becoming increasingly popular in the UK, but it’s still not as widely consumed as black tea. Green tea is made from unoxidized leaves and has a lighter, more delicate flavor than black tea.


Herbal Tea: Herbal teas are made from a variety of different herbs, fruits, and spices. They are caffeine-free and can be enjoyed hot or cold. Chamomile and peppermint are two of the most popular herbal teas in the UK.


Whether you’re a tea aficionado or a casual drinker, there’s no denying that tea is an important part of British culture.


History of Tea in the UK


Tea first arrived in the UK in the early 1600s, when it was introduced by Dutch traders. At first, tea was a luxury item that was only affordable by the wealthy. But by the mid-1800s, tea drinking had become commonplace among all social classes.


During the Victorian era, tea became an important part of British culture and society. Afternoon tea became a fashionable social event, and tea gardens began to spring up around the country.


Tea played an important role during World War II, when rationing meant that people had to make do with less food and drink. Tea was one of the few items that wasn’t rationed, so it became a vital source of comfort for many people during wartime.


Today, tea is still an important part of British culture. In fact, according to a recent study, 96% of people in the UK drink tea on a regular basis. That’s more than any other country in the world!


Timeline of Tea in the UK


1700s- Tea drinking became popular in the UK during the 18th century. At first, it was only consumed by the wealthy, but by the end of the century, it had become commonplace among all social classes.


1840- Afternoon tea is introduced to Britain by Anna, 7th Duchess of Bedford.


1940- During World War II, tea was one of the few items that wasn’t rationed. As a result, it became a vital source of comfort for many people during wartime.


1960s- The British love their tea so much that they even have a saying about it: “There’s always time for tea.”


2000s- In the UK, tea is often served with milk and sugar. This tradition dates back to the early days of tea drinking in Britain, when milk was added to tea to make it more palatable.


2010s- The British are so fond of tea that they even have their own national holiday dedicated to it: National Tea Day, which is celebrated on April 21st.


So there you have it: everything you need to know about tea and its important role in British culture. Now it’s time to put the kettle on and enjoy a nice cup of tea!


Tea in British Economy


The United Kingdom is the biggest importer of tea in Europe, importing over 500 million pounds of tea each year. The majority of this tea comes from countries in Asia, such as India and Sri Lanka. This imported tea accounts for billions of pounds in tax revenue for the UK government each year.


Tourism is another important part of the equation. After all, what would afternoon tea be without scones and clotted cream? The UK's tourism industry benefits greatly from visitors who come to experience traditional afternoon tea. In fact, some estimates suggest that afternoon tea contributes nearly £300 million to the UK economy each year!


As you can see, tea is big business in Britain. From import taxes to employment and tourism, tea plays a significant role in the UK economy. In fact, the UK’s tea industry is worth an estimated £1 billion per year. That’s a lot of tea!


So next time you sit down for a cup of tea, remember that you're not just enjoying a delicious beverage; you're also supporting an important part of Britain's economic engine.


Did You Know?

  • Tea is the second most popular drink in the world, after water.

  • Around 165 million cups of tea are drunk in the UK every day. That’s more than 60 billion cups of tea per year!

  • The average Brit drinks around 2.1 cups of tea per day.

  • There are around 1,500 different types of tea available on the market.

  • The UK is the fourth largest importer of tea in the world, after Pakistan, US and Russia.

  • The first tea plantation in the UK was established in Cornwall in 1796.

  • The London Tea Auction was the oldest and largest tea auction in the world. It’s been held since 1769 and ended in 1998.

  • Tea drinking became popular in the UK during the 18th century. At first, it was only consumed by the wealthy, but by the end of the century, it had become commonplace among all social classes.

  • The British love their tea so much that they even have a saying about it: “There’s always time for tea.”

  • In the UK, tea is often served with milk and sugar. This tradition dates back to the early days of tea drinking in Britain, when milk was added to tea to make it more palatable.

  • The British are so fond of tea that they even have their own national holiday dedicated to it: National Tea Day, which is celebrated on April 21st.


So there you have it: everything you need to know about tea and its important role in British culture.


Ceylon Tea in the UK


When it comes to tea, the British have been drinking it for centuries. In fact, tea is such a big part of British culture that it’s estimated that over 165 million cups of tea are consumed in the UK every day.


So, it should come as no surprise that Ceylon tea is a popular choice among tea drinkers in the UK. Although tea is now grown in many countries around the world, Ceylon tea will always hold a special place in British hearts. For centuries, Britain has been importing this delicious brew from Sri Lanka (formerly known as Ceylon), and it remains one of the nation's favourite hot drinks.


There are many reasons why we love Ceylon tea. Firstly, it has a wonderfully refreshing flavour that is perfect for enjoying with a biscuit or two. Secondly, the rich history of this tea means that there are plenty of interesting stories to be told about its origins. And thirdly, Ceylon tea is relatively easy to find in the UK - meaning that we can all enjoy a cup or two without having to travel too far!


No matter how you choose to enjoy your Ceylon tea, one thing is for sure – it’s a delicious way to start (or end) your day. So, next time you fancy a brew, why not give Ceylon tea a try? We guarantee that you won't be disappointed!



Today, tea drinking is as popular as ever in the UK. Whether you’re enjoying a cup of tea at home or in a busy café, there’s no denying that this humble beverage plays a big role in British culture.



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