The British famously believe that nearly everything can be cured by a cup of tea. - British Tea Etiquette, Huffpost
Just as I do, the British love their tea! And if you have ever longed to emulate the British tea culture or lifestyle, you’ve come to the right place, because I will tell you all about it.
Whether they take their tea with milk, sugar, lemon or just plain, it’s clear that the British have a fondness for its flavour. The British consume 60 billion cups per year, according to the Tea and Infusions Organisation. That’s more than 900 cups a year for every man, woman and child in Great Britain – though we no doubt all know someone who likes many more than that. Tea has become entrenched in the British way of life. -BBC.com
What the British Tea Lifestyle is
The British tea lifestyle refers to the way that Brits include drinking as part of their everyday routines throughout the day, both in casual settings or occasions, and in more formal ones. They easily drink 6-8 cups a day.
Their fondness for tea is said to have begun in the 1600s and persists to the present day.
In 1600, he British East India Company was created, and they soon became the go-to source both for Britain and the Far East.
At that point, tea had been introduced to Europe but was still an oddity in Great Britain. That changed when Charles II married Catherine of Braganza, a Portuguese princess who loved tea. Thanks to her, tea became the "in" drink among monarchs and the wealthy class. - Black Tea World
The Early Morning Tea
Brits may have their first cup of tea upon awakening, sometimes as early as 6 a.m.. But they also have a cup of tea with breakfast, which might occur a couple of hours later.
This tea occasion is not a late breakfast, or a drink upon rising. It’s a tea break that traditionally occurs around 11 a.m., hence the name, and the tea is often served with a finger food. Cake, anyone?
Lunch and Tea
Usually, tea will be served with lunch, too, so you can see how the number of cups of tea are beginning to add up. It isn’t always the same tea, though.
Not only is there often a selection to choose from, but often a pot of boiling water comes with the pot or cup of tea, so that they can dilute their tea to the desired strength.
The Afternoon Tea Ritual: Downton Abbey Style
(1) Make a pot of tea each afternoon and have a small crustless cucumber sandwich, and a small cake or scone with it. A more modern example might include a small tuna or chicken salad sandwich, and a cupcake, scone or biscuit with jam.
(2) If you’re not alone, pour a cup of tea for each guest, one by one, and hand the cup and saucer to one guest before pouring and serving the next one.
(3) Offer milk and sugar, and pour the milk into your tea first.
(4) Have two cups of tea, but not three, and hold it by the handle (no cradling). Put it back onto the saucer in between sips.
(5) Eat the sandwiches or other food with your hands, and take small bites until each one is finished, putting them down in between the bites.
Want more British tea party ideas for an afternoon tea? Here are some great resources you can check out...
Afternoon Tea Menu Templates
Taste of Home Tea Party Ideas
How to Throw a Proper English Tea Party
BBC: How to Throw an Afternoon Tea Party
High Tea refers to the evening meal, and it does come with a hot cup of tea, sometimes a softer Earl Grey.
This later dinner meal was considered to be a necessity for the working class, while afternoon tea occurred more often among wealthy women.
English tea is completed, as well as it starts, in bed. Shortly before bedtime they drink tea without caffeine, as well as a variety of teas with fruit flavours.
That’s quite a bit of tea each day! Do we think these cups might be a wee bit smaller than Americans use? I have seen smaller ones paired with saucers and I imagine that could limit the quantity of each serving.
What about Jane Austen?
References to tea in Jane Austen’s stories reveal the significant part that tea played, the times at which it was drunk, and the gradual shifting of mealtimes in late Georgian and Regency England. - The Tea Things of Jane Austen, Tea Maestro
In my own observation, the most interesting way tea things were used in Jane’s works to create a reason for neighbors to come and visit. She also made it clear that tea was thought to be restorative and comforting.
Tea meant rest and pleasure, and its absence would be a severe disappointment. - Mansfield Park
I am a definite Jane Austen fan, and I loved the sense of tea lifestyle that I got from many of her books.
I also love the idea of drinking tea throughout the day as part of a tea lifestyle, in general.
Do you drink tea?
If you’ve ever been unsure of how long to steep your tea, here’s a free printable chart you can use as a guide.
Free Printable: Steeping Times
See you next time!
Hi, I'm Jeanine
Author, tea matchmaker, self care coach and lifestyle blogger. I help women who want more time for tea breaks & self care simplify, and find time for both. More here.