One of the most popular stereotypes of the British is that they love to drink tea, and at 5 o’clock. It is certainly true that we love our tea. The Brits are renowned worldwide for their love of tea and no wonder with the average Brit drinking over 2 kg of the stuff a year. Tea is in England, is what vodka is to the Russians, beer to the Germans and coffee to the Italians – a staple. One of the things most Brits miss while abroad is ‘a good cup of tea’ as ‘it’s just not the same’. So why is it that we love tea so much, how can you make the perfect cup of tea and when is tea time? Find out here…
So when exactly is tea time?
Well, the simple answer is any time! The day will start with a cup of tea (affectionately known as a cuppa) at breakfast, then again at around 11am, probably with a biscuit or two (some call this elevenses), then again at lunch, then throughout the afternoon, at dinner and sometimes even before bed (though probably decaffeinated). The joy of tea is that it can be drunk in any situation – it’s always appropriate. If you’re having a bad day you can have a cup of tea, a biscuit and a sit down to make you feel better. If you have a problem, you will normally ‘put the kettle on’ and discuss it over a lot of tea. If there is a family crisis, there will be tea. If a friend pops round to your house, you will, of course, offer them a cup of tea (also known as a brew). If there is good news, you’ll probably have a cup of tea. It’s no wonder we’re not very productive with all that tea drinking going on! Though a few people do have ‘afternoon tea,’ the traditional cup of tea and array of sandwiches and cakes at 5 o’clock, it is not something most people do on a regular basis. It is however possible to go for afternoon tea in a cafe or even at The Ritz…
Afternoon tea and Cream tea
A cream tea usually consists of a pot of tea and a scone, jam and cream – delicious! The best cream teas can be found in country tea rooms.
Afternoon Tea on the other hand involves far more food – cucumber sandwiches, various types of cakes, scones, and of course lots of tea. Much is made of this tradition in English literature, so that is probably where the stereotype that we all sit down at 5 o’clock every day for afternoon tea comes from. Well, it would be nice! For the princely sum of £39 you can enjoy a traditional afternoon tea at The Ritz (in London. It’s a highlight for many tourists visiting London, so popular in fact that there are 5 sittings a day and the website advises you to book in advance to avoid disappointment.
Other than scones and cucumber sandwiches there are several tea specific foods you can eat to accompany your tea – toasted tea cakes, tea loaf, crumpets, English muffins, and of course biscuits which can be dunked in your tea.
How to make a cup of tea
This is a hot topic for debate in the UK. Many theories abound regarding how much milk you should use, what kind of tea (tea purists maintain a proper cup of tea can only be made with leaf tea, not tea bags), how long you should leave the tea to brew for and so on. It’s a complicated business. Adding sugar is also a subject for debate – some say it ruins the taste and personally it’s not my cup of tea, but many people do add sugar as tea has quite a bitter taste. Then there is the matter of putting the milk in before pouring or putting it in after you’ve poured the tea. Nowadays people generally use teabags and so they put the milk in afterwards, but historically speaking the milk was always poured into the cup before the tea was poured. Apparently this was so that if you had poor quality china it wouldn’t crack…
So how do we go about making the perfect cup of tea?
Well, watch this video to find out from the expert
Now you can make the perfect cuppa!