An English national sport... (Social rituals: imposed article)
In England, drinking tea is much more than just a habit, it is a custom. More than 60 billion cups of tea are drunk yearly in the UK (around 165 000 000 every day) and 87% of Brits consume tea. Consequently, tea in UK is a great market that weights £655 million in 2011 and met a 22% growth in only five years.
Where does this custom comes from? Contrarily to beliefs, tea appeared only recently in England compared to the length of its existence. Indeed, tea came far away from China in the seventeenth century while it existed since 2737 BC in China. History of how tea was brought in England is rather blurred but the most probable explanation is that it was brought as a gift by sailors of the British East India Company and remained something of a curiosity until the wedding of Catherine of Braganza to Charles II. The princess was a tea addict and her love of tea made the drink fashionable among the court and the wealthy classes. This last event is the turning point of the history of tea in Britain because then began the importation of tea in Britain by the East India Company.
During a long period tea was imported from China until the British monopoly on trade with China was ended. The East India Company then started to grow tea in India starting in Assam and began the era of the tea clippers: As the Company lost its monopoly, individual merchants raced with their own ships to bring home expensive tea, leading to the famous races between British and American clippers around 1860.
Gradually, tea established as part of the British way of life, which was officially recognized during the First World War when the Government insured its importation at affordable prices because of its morale-boosting effect.
While the tea was already strongly established as a national beverage, it met over time great innovation such as the tea bag invented in the US and introduced in England in 1953 by Tetley or the multitudes of flavors now available on the market.
Tea in England isn’t just a beverage but a social tradition. For instance, gathering around a tea break is a custom since 200 years (not to mention the tea parties) and there is a formula to realize the perfect cup of tea with a specific brewing time according to the county and the type of tea (if you are interested in making the perfect brew click on: http://www.tea.co.uk/make-a-perfect-brew) .
Finally, 98% of people in Britain drink their tea with milk and 30% of them add sugar to their “cuppa”. So if you ever have the chance to visit England, don’t forget to savor a delicious cup of tea with milk of course!
Source: UK Tea Council (http://www.tea.co.uk/tea-a-brief-history-of-the-nations-favourite-beverage and http://www.tea.co.uk/teafacts.php ), Mintel study (http://www.mintel.com/press-centre/food-and-drink/britains-growing-appreciation-for-green-and-herbal-tea-hits-sales-of-builders-brew ) and Tetley's website (http://www.tetley.co.uk/about-us/history)
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