The State of English Tea

Tea still supreme in the UK?
Tea still supreme in the UK? (Photo source: The English Tea Store)

Nobody knows anything. Screenwriter William Goldman probably wasn’t the first person to use that phrase but when he applied it to the movie business, it caught on and has become something of a pop culture catchphrase. One that could apply to the state of tea drinking in the UK, now that you mention it.

If you wanted to find a study that bemoans the demise of British tea drinking, whether it be from the onslaught of coffee culture or for whatever other reason, you won’t have to look too hard. If memory serves, I’ve commented on several such studies and reports in these very pages. Here’s an article I wrote about a year ago on the alleged decline of tea in the UK and China.

You might have to look a little harder to find reports that all is well and good with tea drinking in the UK, but they’re out there. Take a study that was cited repeatedly in the British press not so long ago. As one article triumphantly noted, Still a Nation of Tea Drinkers: More Brits Enjoy a Cuppa than a Coffee.

The study of hot beverage drinking habits was conducted with the help of some 5,000 British consumers. Though a little more than a third of the aforementioned prefer a cup of coffee in the morning, more than half of those surveyed said that they like to get things underway in the veddy British way, with a cup of tea. The Brits drink more than 78 million cups of tea every day though the study also found that 46 percent preferred to take their tea from a mug.

As other reports have indicated over the years, the tea bag reigns supreme in the UK nowadays. Only 20 percent of survey respondents said that they bothered to make tea in a teapot. Of those who drank tea from a bag about 40 percent said that they only managed to steep the tea for a minute or less. More details about the study here.

All of which sounds promising for the British tea scene, though it undoubtedly won’t be too long before another report moaning about the demise of British tea culture. Which brings to mind Mark Twain’s often requited quote, the one about “lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

PG Tips - a return to loose tea? (Photo source: The English Tea Store)
PG Tips – a return to loose tea? (Photo source: The English Tea Store)

In other British tea news, here’s word on an initiative to reduce the environmental impact from all of those used tea bags being tossed in the bin. Tea bags are said to be the number one source of food-related waste and PG Tips, who are said to have introduced the tea bag there in 1960, are part of an effort to reduce this impact.

See also:
Joining the “Save the Teapot” Campaign

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2 thoughts on “The State of English Tea

    1. A.C. Cargill

      Since Bill said “are said to have”, he probably has a source for that. I will let him address this issue. Thanks for reading. 🙂

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