and the British
father of modern economics, Adam Smith, once described the British as a
"nation of shopkeepers". He might just as easily have described them as
a nation of tea-drinkers, since tea has long been a national favourite.
The image of the tea-drinking British is not just a myth; it is a
reflection of reality. Today, tea accounts for 43% of all the drink
consumed in Britain, excluding plain water
Tea-time in a traditional
English tea-room : tea, scones and cream, and cake.
There was a time in the 1960's and
1970's when some people believed that coffee would replace tea as
Britain's favourite beverage
In the event,
that did not occur, and today, tea remains
firmly anchored as Britain's favourite drink, accounting for over two
fifths of all the drink consumed in Britain with the exception of water.
To say that the British are fond of tea
is something of an understatement
From the Royal Family down to the humblest of the homeless and the
out-of-work, tea is more than just a pleasure; it is an essential part
of life! It is one of those things that distinguishes life in Britain
from life anywhere else. The average Briton over the age of 10 drinks
three and a half cups of tea per day, or 1,355 cups per year
– mostly tea with milk in it — which puts Britain
miles ahead of any other country in the international league of
tea-drinking nations! Second and third in the league are the New
Zealanders (889 cups) and the Australians (642 cups); in Europe, the
nearest rival to Britain is Russia, where people only consume on
average 325 cups of tea per year.
The popularity of tea in the United
Kingdom has a long history, reflecting the nation's development since
the seventeenth century. It was in 1657 that Thomas Garway, the owner
of a coffee
house, sold the first tea in London. The drink soon became popular as
an alternative to coffee, and by the year 1700, there were over 500
coffee houses in the British capital selling the new drink.
In those days however, it was not
something for anyone; the cost of a pound of tea in the year 1700 (up
to 36 shillings
a pound) was almost the same as it was in 1985 (average:
£1.80 a pound).... but in 1700, a working man earned one
shilling a week, compared to £140 in 1985!
For a century and a half, tea remained
an expensive drink; many employers served a cup of it to their workers
in the middle of the morning, thus inventing a lasting
institution, the "tea break
but as a social drink outside the workplace, tea was reserved for the
nobility and for the growing middle classes. Among those who had the
means, it became very popular as a drink to be enjoyed in
cafés and "tea gardens".
It was the 7th Duchess of Bedford who,
in around 1800, started the popular fashion of "afternoon tea", a
ceremony taking place at about four o'clock. Until then, people did not
usually eat or drink anything between lunch and dinner. At
approximately the same time, the Earl of Sandwich popularised a new way
of eating bread — in thin slices, with something (e.g. jam or
cucumbers) between them, and before long, a small meal at the end of
the afternoon, involving tea and sandwiches had become part of a way of
As tea became much cheaper during the
nineteenth century, its popularity spread right through British
society, and before long, it had become Britain's favourite drink
— promoted by the Victorians as an economical, warming,
stimulating non-alcoholic drink. In working-class households, it was
served with the main meal of the day, eaten when workers returned home
after a day's labour
This meal has become known as "high tea".
Today, tea can be drunk at any time of
day. The large majority of people in Britain drink tea for
breakfast: the mid-morning "tea break" is an institution in British
offices and factories
(though some people prefer coffee at this time of day); and for anyone
working outdoors, a thermos of tea is almost an essential part of the
day's equipment. Later in the day, "afternoon tea" is still a way of
life in the south of England and among the middle classes, whereas
"high tea" has remained a tradition in the north of Britain.
CLASSIC ENGLISH "CUPPA"
To make tea. Put two teabags or teaspoonfuls of tea into a
warmed pot. Add boiling water, and leave to brew
for three or
four minutes. Serve with a dash
of milk and/or sugar. Tea without sugar is the best accompaniment with
sweet snacks (biscuits, jam sandwiches, cakes).
Ty-Phoo, Brooke Bond etc. "Standard"
British teas are Indian varieties, which can be drunk quite strong.
Varieties of tea:
The best Indian tea is reputed to be Darjeeling tea. Assam tea is a
much darker stronger tea. China teas are more delicate: the most
popular are Keemum and Lapsang Souchong.
"Earl Grey" tea is a blend
of China and
with oil of bergamot.
: drink - in the event:
reality - an
the opposite of an exaggeration - owner
proprietor - shilling
0.05 pounds (5 modern pence) - to
to continue - a break
a pause - labour
work - factory
industrial building - cuppa
cup of tea - brew:
- a dash
small amount - a brand
a trade name - a blend
mixture - flavour
for the Firefox
© Linguapress. Do not copy
this document to any other website
Copying permitted for personal study, or by teachers for use with their
Tea and the British
Here is a summary
of the article on tea. However, it contains 10 errors of fact. Can
you find them, and correct them. After doing this, try to
rewrite this résumé, changing as much of the
expression as you can, without changing the meaning.
Tea is the most popular drink in Britain, accounting for
almost half the liquid consumed by people in Britain; furthermore, the
British are the world's biggest tea drinkers —
having been so ever since Thomas Garway became the first
person to sell tea in London, in the year 1567.
Three hundred years ago, however, tea
was a very expensive drink. Nevertheless, the great British tradition
of the "tea break" began very early on, as employees got into the habit
of serving tea to their workers in the middle of the day. As
a social drink, tea was initially reserved for the middle classes and
the nobility, who could not afford it.
The ceremony of "afternoon tea", a snack
of tea and sandwiches between lunch and dinner, was invented by the
Earl of Sandwich in the early eighteenth century; then the drink became
very popular with the Victorians, who preferred it to alcoholic
Today, tea is still extremely popular,
since it can be drunk at mealtimes at any time of the day