If you are going to be living in London, then you might want to explore some of the culture surrounding tea, the drinking of tea and the preparation of the beverage. If it seems a little odd to devote an entire article to the consumption of tea then you might be surprised to learn that on average British people consume nearly 3 kg’s of tea per annum. It is the national drink of the United Kingdom and if you are entertaining people during the day, then you should be able to prepare and serve tea to your guests. Part of living in a new country is the chance to immerse yourself in the culture and customs of the country, and drinking tea at any time of the day is very much a part of the culture in England.
The popularity of tea as a beverage dates back to the height of the British Empire when England controlled most of the world’s tea trade between the East and West. It has been around, however since the 1600’s as a drink made fashionable by the gentry. As tea grew in popularity, an entire culture surrounding tea burst into existence. Tea gardens and Tea dances were immensely popular for decades.
Today tea is served in two ways. The most common way is known as ‘builder’s tea’, this is a hot drink served at any time of the day. It is not served in a teacup and saucer, but in a mug and it is a strong tea, that is served with sugar and milk. People in England drink up to seven mugs of tea a day and will have it with a meal, or biscuits as a quick snack. The more refined way of serving tea involves using a cup and saucer and is almost ritualistic in nature.
How to prepare and serve tea:
- Boiling water is poured into a teapot, which is a utensil with a spout that is used for pouring tea. Once the pot is warmed, the water is discarded.
- Tealeaves are added to the warmed pot, some people use tea bags today for convenience, but purists would stick to loose tealeaves to better bring out the flavour.
- Hot water is added to the tealeaves and the mixture is allowed to settle for a few minutes to brew. A tea cosy is often placed over the pot; this is usually a knitted cover that keeps the tea warm while it is brewing.
- Tea is never allowed to brew for more than ten minutes as the tea is spoiled and turns bitter.
- The tea is poured into a cup and milk and sugar are added depending on how the individual prefers to drink it. There is some debate about whether or not to add milk before or after the tea, but this is really a question of personal taste.
Crazy about Coffee
If you are going to be moving to London, do not panic that you will not be able to drink your favourite cup of java. Coffee is served as often as tea, although most people in England will serve instant coffee in their homes, as opposed to the real deal. If you are craving a shot of espresso, then never fear, London is a cosmopolitan city and you’ll be able to find a Starbucks on most high streets.