Are you a big tea drinker?
For almost 400 years the British people have had a love affair with tea yet it’s popularity seems under threat as younger people are falling out of love with the traditional cuppa.
Traditional breakfast tea, taken with milk, is less popular with under 35’s today as the younger generation increasingly opt for green or fruit teas or indeed coffee as their hot beverage of choice.
A brief history
The first advert for tea in the British Isles was printed in the London republican newspaper Mercurius Politicus in September 1658, announcing that a drink called Tcha by the Chinese and Tay or Tee by other nations was available in a coffee house in the city. But it was Queen Catherine, wife of Charles II who first championed tea in Britain making it popular with the aristocracy.
The East India Company was born but with tax on tea as much as 118% it was reserved for the elite and tea smuggling became a serious problem. By 1784, in a bid to stop the smuggling, the new Prime Minister, William Pitt the Younger, cut the tax on tea down to 12.5% and tea stopped being the reserve of the elite.
By the middle of the 18th century, tea had become the country’s most popular drink and the East India Company was using tea clippers, such as the Cutty Sark, to transport tea from India and China.
During the second world war, Winston Churchill, viewed tea as being as vital to the British people as the defences that protected our coastline
Churchill is quoted as saying “Tea is more important than ammunition”, directing British servicemen to have as many cups of tea as they wanted.
The 1950’s saw mass production of tea bags in the UK and with it a surge in sales.
How the tea market is changing
Fruity, herbal and decaf brews are driving growth in the tea market today, but traditional black tea still remains Britain’s go-to cuppa.
So why all the fuss? Well, it is interesting to note that according to The Grocer only 30% of younger customers choose black tea as their regular brew and among the 18-24-year-old age group, 39% drink herbal tea and 26% drink fruity brews. Compare these figures to the 65-plus age group where just 14% have herbal tea and 10% take fruit infusions and you can see how the generations vary in their hot beverage tastes.
Although traditional black leaf tea consumption looks set to decline 2019 figures state that Britons drink 165 million cups of tea every day.
Only time will tell whether the traditional cuppa will go out of fashion but I for one could not imagine being offered a fruit infusion in a crisis – surely a restorative cup must and always will be strong, milky and sweet – in other words ‘nothing beats a nice cup of tea.’
Are you a big tea drinker?
What are your views?
We'd love to hear your comments
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