Is the Sun Setting on Britain’s Tea Empire?

Some popular British tea brands
Some popular British tea brands

There’s probably no other nation that’s more closely associated with tea drinking and culture than the United Kingdom. They’ve gone so far as to coin their own term for a cup of tea (“cuppa”) and their annual per capita consumption (5.2 kg) is more than double that of the next closest contender (Turkey, 2.1 kg).

With this in mind it should probably come as no surprise that sensation-hungry media outlets periodically bemoan the demise/decline/destruction/whatever of tea drinking in Britain. The most recent outbreak of this sort of mild hysteria was reported in London’s The Sun and Daily Mail, just to name a few of the outlets that got in on the act.

As the Daily Mail article noted, the population of British tea drinkers is aging, which could end up being to the detriment of the tea industry. More than half of the tea drinkers there are over the age of 45, but only four percent are under age 25. However, as the survey conducted by tea company Typhoo also found, the situation is apparently not too dire just yet, given that “80 per cent of Britons still rely on one or more cups of tea a day.”

Among the other findings, the tried and true English Breakfast tea, which made up about half of all tea consumed some forty years ago now makes up about forty percent of all tea consumed, as Brits have gradually begun to turn to green tea and other varieties. The survey also found that nearly all young tea drinkers prefer to drink tea made with a tea bag, with about one-fifth of tea drinkers of all ages resorting to this method.

Courier: Nasty Cuppa?
Courier: Nasty Cuppa?

In a more or less similar vein, here’s an article that appeared in another British newspaper a few months back. It bemoaned the demise of British tea drinking culture with the somewhat sensational headline “Is the cheap and nasty cuppa typically British?”

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