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The British and Their Love of Tea

The British and Their Love of Tea

You may have heard of brands such as Yorkshire Tea, PG, Barry’s, or even Lyons. That’s because The Brits are obsessed with their tea! If you doubt that, simply take a look at all the fancy associated terms that they have coined! There is high tea, low tea, afternoon tea, cream tea and simply, tea. For some statistics, Europeans race through one hundred and sixty-five million cups of tea every day! Convinced about the obsession as well as confused a little? Fantastic, because here we take a look at why, when and how the British love their tea!

The Beginning of a Bea-Tea-Full Romance

You have no doubt heard about the British East India Company. In the mid-sixteenth century, the British East India Company played cupid and created an unlimited and growing supply of tea as part of British imports. This came at a time when Britain was excluded from coffee exports from the Mediterranean region due to their wars with France. So, while their neighbors got hooked on coffee, Britain fell in love with their cup of tea.

You would be correct to think that tea initially used to be the drink of choice for aristocrats and the wealthy. However, the rising prices of tea crafted the path for tea smuggling and fake tea. Used tea leaves were mixed with other dried leaves and then sold at cheap prices. This made sure that the labour class had access to this divine beverage and the rest is history!

The Duchess of Bedford deserves special mention in the story of the thriving relationship between the British and their beloved beverage. Thanks to her hungry tummy, she paved the way for the social convention of low tea or afternoon tea. All she did was begin to enjoy a hearty pot of tea with a light snack to keep her stomach from grumbling in the late afternoons. Before long, low tea became a social event and even got officialised when Queen Victoria held a low tea event at Buckingham Palace.

Understanding the Tea Terminology

Low tea or afternoon tea is a pot of tea (or two) served in the late afternoon with an accompaniment of scones, finger sandwiches, pastries and homemade cakes. Low tea is called so for the tea and snacks were served on low tables. If you want to host your own afternoon tea party, you can find all the necessary supplies in British grocery stores Perth.


A simpler version of low tea is known as cream tea, which is contrary to popular notion, not cream mixed in tea. Rather it is the practice of having a pot of warm tea with scones, clotted cream and jam.

High tea or meal tea is a heavy meal of meat pies, casseroles, vegetables and bread washed down with a pot of tea. This teatime meal was typically eaten by workers and laborers at the end of the day. The term high tea comes from the fact that the meal was served on high (regular) tables. If you wish to enjoy a high tea at home with family, you can find the necessary supplies for some quintessential items at Best of British, located in Perth.

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