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Tea: That Very British of Drinks

by Claudia Foleng-Achunche

Do the British really drink more tea than any nation on earth?

Tea, considered to be that most quintessential of British drinks and a great British tradition, is a relatively newcomer to the British Isles compared to the Chinese.

The custom of tea drink dates back to China around the 3 rd millennium BC, where practically every-one drank tea and considered it to be a drink given by the gods to the people for their well-being. It was not until the 17 th century that Britain was first introduced to tea.

Porcelain, mostly referred to as ‘fine China’ or ‘bone China,’ can be traced to the origin of tea in China.

Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, first introduced the ritual of afternoon tea in England in 1840. It was recalled that the Duchess quite often would become hungry at around four o’clock, thus leaving a long period between then and eight o’clock, which is when dinner was served.

The Duchess, on one occasion, asked that tray of tea, bread and butter, sandwiches and cakes be brought to her room at 4pm. This became a habit of hers and she soon began inviting friends to join her.

The break for tea during the 1880’s upper society became a fashionable social event where they would change into long gowns, gloves and hats for afternoon tea.

Traditional afternoon tea consists of a selection of dainty sandwiches, scones, cakes and pastry served with clotted cream and preserves. Tea is brewed and poured from silver teapots into delicate bone china.

Today however, in the average suburban home, afternoon tea is likely to be just a bun, biscuit and a mug of tea or on its own in offices around the world usually produced using a tea bag. ABOMINATION, I’m sure the Duchess of Bedford would say if she were alive today.

To experience the best of the afternoon tea tradition, indulge yourself with a trip to one of London’s finest hotels or visit or visit tearooms around the counties.

On average the British drink 3-4 cups of tea a day, with 70% of the population drinking tea on a regular basis. On –going research is discovering that at this level of intake there may be significant health benefits.

In addition to tea’s contribution to overall daily fluid intake- helping in Hydration, the presence of powerful anti-oxidants, tea, when taken with milk may also contribute to our daily in-take of nutrients such as the following: Calcium, Zinc, Vitamin B6, Niacin, and many other vitamins helping to support overall health and well being.

Tea, in a nutshell, is that which could be offered to make people feeling welcome in ones home, or used instead of offering food (which I think could be more hospitable), used in breaking the ice in arguments or fine just as a tool in keeping those cold rainy English days a bit warm.


The following hotels have been awarded by the Tea Council, UK (A major independent body for the promotion of tea at its finest).


The Ritz Hotel Tea Room (Winner London’s Best Tea place 2004)
150 Piccadilly, London W1J 9BR, UK
Tel: +44 (0) 207 493 8181
Fax: +44 (0) 207 493 2687
Web: www.theritzlondon.com


Bird on the Rock (Winner Top tea place UK 2004)
Bird on the rock, Abcott, Clungunford, Shropshire, SY7 0PX, UK
Tel/Fax: 01588 660 631
Web: www.stmem.com/birdontherock


Cliveden (Winner Top Country House Hotel for afternoon Tea 2004)
Cliveden, Taplow, Berkshire SL6 OJF, UK
Tel: 01628 668 561
Web: www.clivedenhouse.co.uk

Margaret’s Tea Rooms (Winner Top Tea title 2003)
Chesnut Farmhouse, the street, Baconsthorpe, NR25 6AB, UK
Tel: +44 (0) 1263 5777 614


The Tea Tree (Winner runner up for the best Tea place 2003)
12 High Street, Winchelsea, East Sussex, TN36 4EA, UK
Tel: +44 (0) 1797 226 102



Claudia Foleng-Achunche (c_foleng@yahoo.co.uk) is the Author of Tasty and Exotic Foods – an exotic blend of West African mouthwatering cuisine for the 21 st century. She lives and works in the United Kingdom.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the businesses in question before making your plans.

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