Where did the tradition of English tea drinking come from?
English tea drinking is the most famous of the British traditions. However, tea was introduced to England relatively recently, in the middle of the XVII century. The popularity of the drink grew quite slowly, spreading from Asia to Europe in the late XVI – early XVII centuries, when the supply of tea by Dutch and Portuguese merchant ships became regular.
Surprisingly, tea owes its popularity to coffee shops. The owner of one of the first London coffee houses, Thomas Harvey, sold tea both in dry and brewed form, as early as 1657. At that time, it was called cha (tcha), a Chinese drink, tay (tay) or tee (tee) and was recommended as a cure for all diseases; not everyone could afford such a curiosity.
By the beginning of the eighteenth century, tea was offered to visitors for more than five hundred establishments, and half a century later, tea became a favorite drink even of the lower strata of English society.
In the early 19th century, Anne, 7th Duchess of Bedford, introduced the custom of evening tea drinking: yes, the author of the five-o’clock tradition is a very specific person who made the use of tea not only pleasant, but also fashionable.
Tea in modern Britain.
Today, tea houses can be found in any corner of the Foggy Albion, but they have had a hard time in recent years: the growing popularity of coffee shops has led to a significant outflow of clientele.
But still, the British are proud of their status as a “tea country”, and this is not a stereotype: the average citizen of the United Kingdom drinks about 2 kg of tea a year (we are talking about tea leaves). Interestingly, the country with the highest tea consumption per capita does not grow tea itself.
Tea in the USA.
The tradition of evening tea drinking in the United States did not take root: after the rulers of Great Britain introduced a tax on the import of tea to the United States in 1773, American colonists defiantly poured a cargo of tea into the waters of Boston harbor. The “Boston Tea Party” became a key event in the development of the American revolution, and the purely English tradition of five-o’clock came to naught.
Therefore, if you order tea in the United States, you will in most cases be brought iced tea with lemon (ice tea), which is perfectly refreshing on a hot day.
So why are the Brits crazy about tea? Listen to the story of a charming British vlogger:
English tea party etiquette.
Please welcome those present. After you sit in your seat, place your purse on your lap or on the chair behind you. Take the cloth napkin in front of you, unfold it, and place it on your lap. If you need to leave the table, leave the napkin on the chair. First, put sugar in the cup, then lemon. If you drink tea with milk, do not put lemon, otherwise the milk will curdle. Proceed to the appetizers in the following order: first, spicy and salty snacks, then scones, then cakes. Scones (classic British buns) are cut horizontally and smeared with cream, jam or curd (custard). A teaspoon is placed next to the cup: leaving it in the cup is bad form. Holding a cup with your little finger sticking out is also considered bad form. When you drink tea, your gaze should be directed into the cup, not over it.
How to make tea in the British way.
Pour fresh water into the kettle (the high level of oxygen in the water is necessary for proper brewing of tea leaves) and bring it to a rapid boil. Warm the teapot by pouring boiling water over it. Put the tea leaves in the teapot. Pour boiling water over the tea leaves and let them stand for 2-5 minutes (you can cover the tea cosy teapot with a tea warmer). Add milk to the cup (optional).* Put a strainer on the spout of the teapot. Pour the tea into a cup.
- What to pour first, tea or milk, is still the most burning question of the English tea party. George Orwell, who dedicated the famous essay “A Nice Cup of Tea” to the culture of English tea drinking, wrote: “Whether to put tea in the cup first and add the milk after, or the other way around, has split public opinion, indeed in every family in Britain there are probably two schools of thought on the subject.” (Pour tea into a cup, and then milk, or vice versa – here public opinion is ambiguous. In fact, in every family in Britain, there are two points of view on this issue).
Aroma Aroma Boling water Boiling Water Brew Brew To brew tea Brew Tea Ceylonese tea Ceylon Tea China 1) China 2) China China tea Chinese Tea Cup Curd Cup Curd custard Darjeeling Darjeeling (tea variety) Earl Grey Tea with Bergamot Green tea Green Tea Herbal tea Herbal Tea Indian tea Indian Tea Kettle Kettle (for boiling water) Lump (of sugar) Piece (sugar) Milk Milk Mint tea Mint Tea Oolong Oolong (tea variety) Saucer Saucer To stir Stir Scone Scone, Classic English bun Strong tea Strong Tea Sugar Sugar Taste Taste Tea house, tea shop Tea house, tea Tea leaves Tea leaves Tea strainer Tea Strainer Teapot Teapot Teapot Teaspoon Teaspoon Weak tea, watery tea Weak tea White tea White tea.
Idioms about tea.
cup of tea — something preferred, desirable, favorite.
Letters’. “someone’s cup of tea»
Something pleasant, familiar, to your taste:
Teaching children to read is just my cup of tea. “Teaching children to read is my thing.
not one’s cup of tea — something alien.
Letters’. “not someone’s cup of tea”
“Not my thing”, ” not mine»:
Going to church, Mary said, was not her cup of tea. “She doesn’t like going to church,” Mary said.
tea party — 1) crazy party 2) simple and pleasant event.
- Violent, noisy,” crazy ” party: There was a loud tea party going on in the pub when Jess came in. — There was a raucous party going on in the pub when Jess came in.
- An easy and pleasant event that does not cause fear and excitement: The test was a real tea party. No sweat. – The exam was easy. No pressure at all.
not for all the tea in China — not for anything in the world.
Letters’. “not for all the tea in China»
Not for any price, not for any cakes, never in my life:
I wouldn’t give up my car, not for all the tea in China. — I will not give up my car for any wealth in the world.
tempest in a teapot — tempest in a glass of water.
Letters’. “tempest in a teapot»
Also tempest in a teacup (“tempest in a teacup”), tempest in a glass of water (“tempest in a glass of water”), much ado about nothing (Shakespeare’s,” much ado about nothing”); in the British version — storm in a teacup. Overreacting to a minor event:
All that because a handful of the thousand invited guests didn’t show up? What a tempest in a teapot! — And all this because a bunch of a thousand invited guests didn’t show up?” What a storm in a glass of water!
tea and sympathy — empathy, compassion.
Letters’. “tea and sympathy»
An old-fashioned expression of support and compassion for someone who is upset:
Sometimes people want practical advice and sometimes they just want tea and sympathy. — Sometimes we need good advice, and sometimes we need simple human sympathy.
And if you prefer stronger drinks, read our article about pubs in Britain and the United States.