Britain and its Relationship with Tea

The British is known as a nation obsessed with tea, which is unsurprising, as us Brits consume 60 billion cups of the stuff every year. Therefore, it’s no secret that the English, Scots, Welsh and Irish can’t get enough of this quintessential brew – a longstanding favourite drink we’re incredibly passionate about, with 76% of the UK population drinking tea every day.

It is rather surprising then, when people learn about the late blooming history of tea on British soils. Tea dates back to the third millennium BC in China. Yet, tea didn’t arrive in England until the mid-17th century, spreading slowly from its Asian homeland through trade ships.

Tea, however, quickly gained popularity, cutting the sales of ale, gin and other alcoholic beverages. The government, relying on the sales of liquor, taxed tea imports heavily. With the demand for tea so great, a tea smuggling industry developed where local fishermen smuggled tea into the country through underground passageways.

Tea smuggling declined in 1784, allowing tea to manifest into the thriving industry it is today. Traditional tea customs such as tea gardens and afternoon tea have continued to remain prevalent in British custom, with Buyagift campaigning for a ‘Teamoji’ during Afternoon Tea Week. After all, £654 million was spent on tea in 2015, with 165 million cups of tea drunk each day, proving that even with coffee’s increased popularity, tea still stands the test of time and continues to be the nation’s most cherished beverage of choice.

How britain takes its tea