Tea: A UK Tradition

by Bleen Sharma
Enjoying a cup of tea at the library café at
Queen’s University, Belfast.

“There’s nothing like a nice cup of tea in the afternoon”. For some this phrase is fairly familiar, and for others this phrase is a way of life. In the United Kingdom, tea has steeped (tea pun) its way into the lives of individuals to form part of their identity, causing majority of those in the UK to identify themselves as “tea people”.

Even before I arrived in Belfast, I identified as a “tea person”. This is primarily because I grew up in a household where tea was the prominent beverage of choice. In the morning, the afternoon, even the evening, it was teatime; there was no time that was not suitable for tea. You would think that my family was from the UK, but we are from India, which is one of the world’s largest consumer of tea. Even though tea had been around in India since around 750 BC, the British were recognised for tea cultivation at a commercial level.

A new day, a new café, a new cup of tea.

Another interesting tea fact is on the sophisticated act of afternoon tea. This social activity has been adopted because the seventh Duchess of Bedford would become hungry around 4pm in the afternoon, during a time when dinner and lunch were eaten at considerably later times. This became her habit and she started inviting her friends to join in. Imagine, starting a tradition simply because you are hungry, how tea-rific is that? Nowadays afternoon tea is simply a cup of tea with a biscuit or two, which is sometimes all that is needed after a long day studying in the UK.

A wee cup of tea at the café at the Giant’s Causeway.

There have been days in which I have 3-4 cups of tea, once in the morning, before an afternoon lecture, and then of course at the end of a long day of attending lectures and studying. English breakfast, Irish breakfast, Earl Grey, green tea, I enjoy it all. If I had to pick a favourite, it would have to be a Winter Spice blend from any type of brand, it is absolutely so tas-tea. Honestly speaking, any tea with different types of spices, especially cinnamon, is my tea of choice and is something I could drink all the time.

Nothing goes better together, than a cup of tea and board games on a chilly afternoon.

Typically, I drink my tea black, with no milk or cream and no sugar. This way I am able to enjoy the mixture of tea leaves without any additions, which may alter the taste of the tea. However many individuals do enjoy their tea with milk/cream and sugar, which is the more traditional way of drinking tea, but that’s not my cup of tea. I truly cannot stop with the tea puns, but I do think they are tea-riffic.

In the UK, tea is definitely an essential component of every day life. It is a beverage that is able to provide warmth and comfort, as well as a degree of sophistication and class. Whether in the morning, afternoon or the evening, tea is a beverage that is enjoyed by many, and as long as it is able to be cultivated on earth it will continue to be enjoyed by many.

The most extravagant of teapots at a local café in Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK.

References

https://www.historic-uk.com/CultureUK/Afternoon-Tea/

https://www.teacoffeespiceofindia.com/tea/tea-origin