Why is Tea So Popular in the UK? 

The Rosebery Afternoon Tea full spread of treats
Credit: The Rosebery at the Mandarin Oriental

It’s no secret that in the UK we love our tea. We’re always finding a reason to pop the kettle on, whether you’re having an Earl Grey at teatime or an English Breakfast to have a natter with your neighbour. Britain loving tea is a well-known stereotype that definitely holds up as a survey showed that 63% of respondents shared that they consume a cup of tea daily.

While we can agree that tea is one of the UK’s favourite beverages, the question remains as to how we got to this point. Here are our reasons why tea has become so popular in the UK:

Reduced tax

When tea was first imported to the UK in the early 17th century by the East India Company, there was hefty taxation on it which meant that only a select few could purchase it. Only the wealthy were able to enjoy a warm cuppa but as soon as the tax was reduced, it became available to the normal and working classes in the UK!

Everyone could start enjoying every type of tea available, whether that was green tea, earl grey or oolong!

Tea for every occasion

afternoon tea claridge's hotel london
Courtesy of Claridge’s

Prime teatime is between 3 and 4 but no task or occasion doesn’t pair nicely with a cup of tea. Whether you are coming together for a night out as a family, celebrating some good news, getting started on the day, returning from a night out, or settling in for a relaxing night, tea is the answer.

The versatility of the beverage makes it easy to understand why tea is the default response to most situations. Some people even measure the length of a task by how many cups they can drink before it ends!

Tea culture

Though we’ve established that there’s no one perfect occasion for tea, the beverage’s popularity has seen the rise of days out purely dedicated to drinking tea and snacking on baked goods and finger sandwiches. Going to hotels and tearooms for a cream tea is a favourite for birthdays and weekends.

It all started in the 1800s when the Duchess of Bedford complained that she wanted something to stop that “sinking feeling” during the late afternoon and voila! Afternoon tea was born, and an important British tradition had begun. There’s nothing more refined than a spot of tea and biscuits and there are many renowned afternoon tea venues to pick from in the UK.

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