Maybe it’s a cliché, but is there really anything so English as a cup of tea?
More or less considered a cure for everything from heartbreak to stress, we love it so much that we’ve started giving it a red letter day on the calendar - National Tea Day, which celebrates its fifth anniversary on 21 April.
The event aims to encourage a new generation of tea drinkers “to discover the amazing breadth of choice and variety the world of tea has to offer”, as well as “get us drinking better tea.”
Here at Erudus we’re committed drinkers of the stuff (and check out the amazing range we have on our platform) and so we’ll be taking part in the movement’s virtual tea party with enthusiasm… and a really full kettle.
And to get us in the mood we’ve put together a list of fascinating facts about this national treasure...
Tea has been considered Britain’s most popular drink since around the mid-1700s, when it overtook ale and gin (...which let’s face it are still pretty popular).
According to The Grocer, In the UK Breakfast tea is the most popular blend, followed at some distance by Earl Grey.
Last year Twinings overtook PG Tips as the most popular brand in the UK, due in part to their innovations such as “as “cold infusions” offered by the likes of Twinings can fetch six times the price per bag of standard black tea” according to a fascinating in-depth look at the tea industry published earlier this year by the Financial Times.
The introduction of tea to Europe is usually credited to Portuguese Jesuit Father Jasper de Cruz, who brought it over from the Far East in 1560. It’s thought it was popularised in England by the also Portuguese Catherine of Braganza, wife to Charles II.
In India, tea is the nation’s biggest industrial activity aside from tourism.
All teas are derived from the camellia sinensis - so whether you’re drinking black, green, oolong, white and pu-erh, it all comes from the same sub-tropical plant.
Unsurprisingly, Earl Grey tea is named after… Earl Grey. Twinings created the variety for him in 1831, when he was Britain’s Prime Minister.
We find most people in this country drink their tea with milk, but that wasn’t always the case - and it’s a habit borne not for taste reasons, but rather porcelain preservation. Tea drinkers began adding it so that the cooling milk would prevent their cups from cracking with the drink’s heat, and prevent brown stains. We suppose the same goes for your teeth...
Though tea does contain caffeine, its absorption into the body is slowed down by the antioxidants also present in the drink. So with tea you get a longer and gentler caffeine buzz with no crash at the end.
You should always store your tea away from other pungent ingredients like spices so you can preserve its own gentle aroma. Tea tin it is then.
As mentioned on Episode 4 of the Erudus podcast, sometimes tea even gets political… Yorkshire Tea found themselves in a social media storm earlier this year after a Tory politician tweeted a picture prominently displaying the brand. The company denied any particular affiliation.
CBD tea is also on the rise. Like other legal CBD products it has a less than 0.3% concentration of cannabis’s psychoactive compound, but many users claim it helps them with everything from anxiety to insomnia.
Lots of people find a herbal tea helps them sleep – particularly lemon balm, chamomile and valerian root. Because there’s actually very little scientific evidence to prove this, it’s generally put down to the relaxing aromas and ritual of tea drinking.
Tea can be paired with food in the same way that wine can – some suggestions from the experts are Dim Sum and ginger tea, lamb kebabs and mint tea, and curry and darjeeling.
Tea contains methylxanthines, theophylline and theobromine, which have all been showing to increase metabolic rate. Great for fat-burning.
Forget your cold-infusions, turmeric sleepy teas – the new trend for forward-thinking tea drinkers is sparkling tea. Fortnum & Mason recently teamed up with Copenhagen Sparkling Tea Co to bring the UK its first range, and also on the market in SkinTē, a sparkling canned tea also containing collagen.