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LET'S TALK ABOUT TEA BABY, LET'S TALK ABOUT TEA AND ME.

Like many things, one tea does NOT fit all!


cups of tea with various milk arranged in a circle


Aahhhhhhh. That’s the sound of a Brit who is very satisfied with their cuppa. But like many things one tea does NOT fit all, there are many ways to drink tea and each person has their preference. Every British person I have ever come across (and I’ve come across a fair few) is extremely particular. It’s me. I’m ridiculously particular about my tea, to the point that I have started to hate ordering English breakfast tea here in America because of the sheer disappointment I feel 99% of the time. So let’s delve a little deeper into Brits, their tea, and how to make “a proper brew.”


Let’s begin with a little hisTEAry lesson. Let’s go way back to ancient China and the legend that is said the be the humble cuppa’s origin story. In 2737 BC, the Chinese emperor Shen Nung was sitting beneath a tree while his servant boiled drinking water, when some leaves from the tree blew into the water. Shen Nung, a renowned herbalist, decided to try the infusion that his servant had accidentally created. The tree was a Camellia sinensis, and the resulting drink was what we now call tea. Whether there is any truth in this story we will never know but I like to think of the creation of tea being a coincidental accident. Despite this being true or false tea became firmly established as the national drink of China under the Tang dynasty (618–906 AD), although tea containers have been found in tombs dating from the Han dynasty (206 BC–220 AD). It was sometime during the late eighth century that tea was brought to Japan by Japanese monks who traveled to China. Tea drinking and tea ceremonies rapidly become a very important part of Japanese culture.


Tea drinking and tea ceremonies rapidly become a very important part of Japanese culture.

At this point in British history, believe it or not, tea was non-existent. It wasn’t until the mid to late sixteenth century that tea even got mentioned in Europe, mostly by Portuguese traders and missionaries, but it was the Dutch that first shipped tea to Europe in 1606. Tea drinking became fashionable in Dutch high society and began spreading throughout Europe.


Although it was highly likely that sailors and traders who worked for The East India Trading Company brought home tea from their trips it wasn’t popularised until the coffee houses of London started selling it. The first reference for tea was an advert from a London newspaper in 1658 placed by Sweeting’s Rents coffee house in London. Then the marriage of Charles II to the Portuguese princess and tea addict Catherine of Braganza really established tea as the drink of choice among British nobility and those who were rich enough to afford it. The first shipment of tea from The East India Trading Company was placed in 1664.


Us Brits took to tea drinking with incredible enthusiasm and tea became more popular in British coffee houses, used for business just as much as pleasure and relaxation. Although during this time they were dominated by middle and upper-class men, women usually took their tea at home. The popularity of tea caused the government to see an opportunity to install heaving taxes on tea some as high as 25p per pound which almost killed tea trading outright in 1689. This led to the smuggling and adulteration of tea. Tea was laced with other dried leaves, sheep dung, and even poisonous copper carbonate to make it look authentic! This continued until 1784 when William Pitt cut tea taxes.


During WW1 tea was used as a morale booster for British troops.

Tea continued to grow in popularity and in 1901 when we started to import tea from India and Sri Lanka with cheaper import costs tea became a firm part of everyday British life. During WW1 tea was used as a morale booster for British troops fighting on the front lines in Europe. It was around this time that the tea bag was invented but they didn’t rise in popularity until the 1970s. Now, I know I can speak for the majority of Brits when I say I really couldn’t imagine life without them!


 

So now that you've had me waffle on about the history of tea, let’s get to the nitty gritty. What brand of tea do you prefer? Are you a Tetley person? A PG Tip kinda tea drinker? Or are you a Yorkshire Tea lover like me? You might be thinking, “Aren’t they all the same?” To which I would answer, ABSOLUTELY NOT! Everyone has their preferred brand of tea bag and for me, Yorkshire Tea is my favourite and in my opinion far superior. It has a stronger taste than the others which is what I prefer. Will I drink other brands, yes, of course, I am just giving you the low down on what I like.



Now let’s get to how I make my tea. I am a mug kinda gal. The bigger the mug the better. Some people like dainty tea cups like my Nan but not me, I would basically drink tea out of a bucket if I could. But, you know, manners and all that, and my Nan would disapprove. Let’s start with boiling the kettle, yes a kettle, no boiling a mug of water in a microwave please, I’m looking at you Americans. That mortal sin is enough to put any Brit in an early grave. I’ll get myself a mug and pop my Yorkshire tea bag inside, as soon as that kettle is boiled the water goes in, and here is the real waiting game. I hate putting my milk in with the tea bag still in my mug but others love that. It’s a no-no for me. I give the tea a little stir and wait about 2–3 minutes. Then you want to give the bag a final stir and squeeze that sucker on the side of the cup with a teaspoon before throwing it out. Then comes the milk, I add a good amount, I like mine a touch milky but strong. Somewhere between numbers 3 and 4 going from darkest to lightest on the little tea image above. I don’t take sugar because I’m not a satanist but my tea will always and forevermore be accompanied by a nice biscuit to dunk, preferably a digestive or a custard cream. And there you have it, that is how to make a proper cuppa. Obviously, you can make whichever way you most enjoy it and I jest a lot about mine being the best but for me IT IS! If you think otherwise then comment and let me know how you take your tea, I would actually love to know, but please, leave the microwaves out of it!


Go er… Drink a cuppa?

Imi xo



 




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