By William I. Lengeman III
Is tea under threat in Britain, a country that’s pretty much a poster child for our beloved leafy beverage and which chose it, a few years back, as one of the icons that have formed the nation’s identity? Well, not so fast, Jack. While there are those who decry the influx of outlets dedicated to serving that other hot drink – you know the one – it’s hard to imagine that this most British of customs, one that’s been in place for centuries, is likely to be cast aside anytime soon.
As in the case of Mark Twain’s fabled non-demise, it’s safe to say that the rumors of tea’s death have been greatly exaggerated. Not that some people aren’t worrying about it. As London’s Telegraph recently reported there are a number of British citizens who are calling for, as they put it, a “return to civilised tea time.”
As the article notes, one Tania Baker, owner of the By Jove! Tea Rooms, in Burwell, has begun to push back against the nightmarish notion of coffeehouses on every corner and is calling for other citizens to join her in fighting the good fight. Baker is drumming up support for tea – as if it needed it – with a petition she will send to the Tea Guild and Visit Britain singing the praises of the beloved custom of afternoon tea.
The article goes on to note that the British still drink a rather respectable amount of tea – in the amount of 165 million cups daily. Coffee, however, appears to be closing in, with an estimated 70 million cups consumed every day. According to figures from the UK Tea Council, 96 percent of the more than 60 billion cups of tea consumed annually in Britain are made using tea bags.
British tea fans can also take heart in the fact that not all is necessarily well in the world of the bean. As an article in the Guardian reported this summer, coffee giant Starbucks reported losses for its British locations. Other popular British coffee chains include Costa Coffee and Caffè Nero.
Don’t forget to check out William’s blog, Tea Guy Speaks!