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Old 12-26-2011, 11:55 PM
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UK Dopers: Tell Me About British Tea


I've been a tea drinker for, oh, about 30 years now. Yes, yes, I know, we Americans can be bar'brous what with the tea bags and Lipton's and lukewarm water offered in restaurants, however, some of us do understand that loose leaf tea exists, have seen (or even possessed) electric kettles and proper teapots and so on.

Lately, (probably due to watching too much Doctor Who) I have been wondering what it would be like to have tea in the UK. Not necessarily "tea" in the formal sense, but rather what tea is actually like in the UK for the average person. So, a few questions:

1) The British still use loose leaf tea, correct? (I'd expect you've heard of tea bags, have no idea if the concept have ever made any in-roads, or if it's viewed like instant coffee is here - a poor substitute at best)

2) What, if any, "beverage condiments" are used? Milk? Cream? Sugar? Lemon? (I think I recall the latter as being something more American, but as I've never been to Britain I thought I'd ask)

3) Is tea seen as a "certain time of day" beverage or is it consumed throughout the day?

4) What is the typical way of brewing it for an office, in the average person's home, etc?

5) What are the common varieties of tea usually consumed?

6) Tell me anything I missed.
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Old 12-27-2011, 12:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Broomstick View Post
I've been a tea drinker for, oh, about 30 years now. Yes, yes, I know, we Americans can be bar'brous what with the tea bags and Lipton's and lukewarm water offered in restaurants, however, some of us do understand that loose leaf tea exists, have seen (or even possessed) electric kettles and proper teapots and so on.

Lately, (probably due to watching too much Doctor Who) I have been wondering what it would be like to have tea in the UK. Not necessarily "tea" in the formal sense, but rather what tea is actually like in the UK for the average person. So, a few questions:

1) The British still use loose leaf tea, correct? (I'd expect you've heard of tea bags, have no idea if the concept have ever made any in-roads, or if it's viewed like instant coffee is here - a poor substitute at best)

2) What, if any, "beverage condiments" are used? Milk? Cream? Sugar? Lemon? (I think I recall the latter as being something more American, but as I've never been to Britain I thought I'd ask)

3) Is tea seen as a "certain time of day" beverage or is it consumed throughout the day?

4) What is the typical way of brewing it for an office, in the average person's home, etc?

5) What are the common varieties of tea usually consumed?

6) Tell me anything I missed.
Not in the UK, just next door in the other main tea drinking nation in this region.

1) Teabags are near ubiquitous in the UK
2) Milk and/or sugar are standard. I'm sure you'd get cream or lemon the odd time but the first two are pretty much the standard.
3) If, and I suspect it is, the UK is like Ireland in this regard then tea is drunk every time of day or night.
4) In an office canteen there may well be a water boiler but typically an electric kettle is used to heat the water and then water poured into a mug that has a teabag placed in it.
5) Perhaps the UK is more sophisticated than here with regard to same but typically tea is just tea, and the main divisions are by brand name rather than particular type of blend. I can't think of what variety is the main one but it's definitely not Earl Grey. (OK i remembered it's Assam tea in Ireland anyway, have never noticed a difference in UK but YMMV)
6) Just to emphasise the "down home" nature of tea drinking in these isles, people have their preferred brands, PG Tipps, Lipton, Barry's, Lyon's etc. but both flavoured teas and more specific varieties of teas are less common than they seem to be among US tea drinkers.

(We'll have to see when a UKian tea drinker comes along whether I've posted any scurrilous lies.)

Last edited by An Gadaí; 12-27-2011 at 12:18 AM.
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Old 12-27-2011, 12:45 AM
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Also not a Brit, also no first hand answers, but regarding your first question: My British out-laws* drink teabag tea exclusively. When we first met and I pulled out the teapot they got all excited in that "Ooh this is something I remember from my childhood and only do on special occasions" way. I pretty well only drink loose leaf, so they make a fuss about my tea but when they go "home" they bring back PG Tipps teabags and post about it on Facebook... I gather my loose leaf is still only considered second best.

If the UK is anything like Australia, loose leaf drinkers are becoming increasingly uncommon judging by the relative shelf space given over to leaves vs bags in the supermarket. I'm unusual amongst my friends in predominantly drinking LL.

*Not married to their son so they're not my in-laws.
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Old 12-27-2011, 01:28 AM
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3) Is tea seen as a "certain time of day" beverage or is it consumed throughout the day?

Get up, have a cup of tea.
Eat breakfast, have a cup of tea.
Do some chores, have a cup of tea.
Going to do the shopping, have a cup of tea first.
Done the shopping, have a nice relaxing cup of tea.
Have a lovely lunch, finish it with a nice hot cup of tea. And a biscuit.
Decide to watch some telly. Make a cup of tea first.
More chores. More tea.
It's four o'clock! Time for tea.
Should really get the dinner on, will have a cup of tea first.
Enjoy dinner, would make a cup of tea, but too full.
Decide to watch something on telly, make a cup of tea first.
Program finishes, make a cup of tea.
Time for bed? Make a cup of tea to take to bed.
Finish bedtime brew. See if partner will make you another.

Information based on observations of my parents, champion tea drinkers.
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Old 12-27-2011, 01:47 AM
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Originally Posted by An Gadaí View Post
Not in the UK, just next door in the other main tea drinking nation in this region.

1) Teabags are near ubiquitous in the UK
2) Milk and/or sugar are standard. I'm sure you'd get cream or lemon the odd time but the first two are pretty much the standard.
3) If, and I suspect it is, the UK is like Ireland in this regard then tea is drunk every time of day or night.
4) In an office canteen there may well be a water boiler but typically an electric kettle is used to heat the water and then water poured into a mug that has a teabag placed in it.
5) Perhaps the UK is more sophisticated than here with regard to same but typically tea is just tea, and the main divisions are by brand name rather than particular type of blend. I can't think of what variety is the main one but it's definitely not Earl Grey. (OK i remembered it's Assam tea in Ireland anyway, have never noticed a difference in UK but YMMV)
6) Just to emphasise the "down home" nature of tea drinking in these isles, people have their preferred brands, PG Tipps, Lipton, Barry's, Lyon's etc. but both flavoured teas and more specific varieties of teas are less common than they seem to be among US tea drinkers.

(We'll have to see when a UKian tea drinker comes along whether I've posted any scurrilous lies.)
Yup, that's all accurate for the UK too.

Until I was about 13 I didn't even know there were different types of tea - I thought there was just tea in different brands, same as there's cola in different brands.

The only thing to add is that pretty much every house has a kettle, an electric one plugged into the wall which switches off automatically - I would genuinely be very surprised to enter a kitchen and not see a kettle - and when people come round your house you're expected to offer them a drink, usually a cup of tea.
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Old 12-27-2011, 02:02 AM
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Thanks ScifiSam, I just sometimes worry that I have a wrongheaded impression of you guys. If you ever see me posting something wrong about the UK please correct me.
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Old 12-27-2011, 02:19 AM
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I'm a Brit living in Italy. I buy my favourite tea in the international shop here unlesss I can get visitors to bring it over for me.

I drink Twinings Earl Grey, there is a version of it here in Italy, made by Twinings, but it doesn't taste anything like the English one. Italian tea is much weaker, I like my tea strong, or as you would say in England "Stewed" or "Cabbage Water".

In Italy the tea bags are also all individually wrapped in paper which strikes me as strange but I assume it to be because they don't use them quickly enough and worry about staleness.

I have my tea with a splash of milk and no sugar. You 'should' have lemon with Earl Grey but I can't drink tea without milk.

I drink a cup of tea when I wake up, one in the car on the way to work and anything between one and four at work. I drink one as soon as I get through the front door, I put the kettle on before I take my coat off or get the children out of the car. I take one to bed with me too.

I use tea bags and Mr Scotch gave me a thermal teapot which I love, so I have 3 cups of tea on hand for several hours.

Thinking about it, I will have a cup of tea before I do anything much like sandra_nz.

Everything said up-thread rings true, especially about the kettles, I have one here in Italy and it is quite a conversation piece, as Italians boil water for tea in a saucepan. Yuk.

One other important thing about tea is that you drink it in a crisis. If something bad has happened, on any kind of scale, the correct response is always "Come over, I'm putting the kettle on/ I'm on my way, put the kettle on."
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Old 12-27-2011, 03:02 AM
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UKian reporting in.

The vast majority of people drink tea with teabags, with loose leaf being seen as a luxury and generally served in better classes of restaurants. Most people drink "builders tea", that is Tetley's or PG Tips brand tea squeezed or sufficiently stewed so the flavour is fully in the water, before adding a generous dash of milk. Sugar is optional, a lot of people take one spoonful or a sweetner.

Tea is drunk all the time, probably too much actually as it has more caffeine in it than coffee (it's less concentrated though so you don't feel it so much). I do my utmost to not drink tea after 5pm. But there are the positive health aspects of drinking tea too, it's frequently being touted as a source of antioxidants that help reduce cancer, although if that were true, given how much the UK drinks tea compared to its continental neighbours, you'd think our cancer rate would be near zero!

Not offering someone a tea or coffee when they visit your house is grounds for defriending.

In closing I would like to point out that people who drink only Liptons have never actually had tea, in the same way that people who have only eaten Quorn have never eaten meat.
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Old 12-27-2011, 03:57 AM
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Tea is drunk all the time, probably too much actually as it has more caffeine in it than coffee (it's less concentrated though so you don't feel it so much).
Tea has more caffeine per pound than coffee. However, a cup of normally steeped tea will have less caffeine in it than a cup of normally brewed coffee. So someone who drinks six cups of tea won't get as much caffeine as someone who drinks six cups of coffee, assuming that both tea and coffee are standard strength.
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Old 12-27-2011, 07:16 AM
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Texan here--where we drink most of our tea iced.

But I watched Gosford Park over the Christmas weekend (on my new flatscreen TV!) One character (the idiotic Inspector, I believe) betrays his humble origins by pouring milk into the teacup before adding the tea; one of the Quality gently reminds him to pour her tea first, then add the milk.....

(Gosh, Julian Fellowes could actually write when he had time constraints.)

Last edited by Bridget Burke; 12-27-2011 at 07:16 AM.
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Old 12-27-2011, 07:48 AM
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Brit here, what AN GADAI said.

I recall once on these boards someone (Am assuming American) said that they were a connessieur of tea and would never pour boiling water onto their leaves as this was harsh, or indelicate or something or other.

Sorry but if you don't pour boiling water on your brew, you might just as well throw your tea down the toilet.
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Old 12-27-2011, 08:03 AM
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Asian types of tea demand the most care with regard to brewing temperature and time, rather than the standard British black tea with milk and sugar. brewing guide
Lots of specialty shops and blends are springing up in the US, and Canada has wonderful teas. But my favorite teas come from a tea purveyor in France. Better than any of the UK teas I've gotten from British specialty shops.

(I realize that, as an American, my opinion is suspect. Please ignore as desired.)

Last edited by Tapiotar; 12-27-2011 at 08:04 AM. Reason: addendum
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Old 12-27-2011, 08:48 AM
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Asian types of tea demand the most care with regard to brewing temperature and time, rather than the standard British black tea with milk and sugar. brewing guide
Lots of specialty shops and blends are springing up in the US, and Canada has wonderful teas. But my favorite teas come from a tea purveyor in France. Better than any of the UK teas I've gotten from British specialty shops.

(I realize that, as an American, my opinion is suspect. Please ignore as desired.)
What you're missing is that there are two meanings for "tea". Most of the world uses the word to refer to blends, including green teas, iced teas, and a million other combinations which involve - well, tea.


To us British, while we might use the word in that context occasionally, when we say "tea" what we mean is one very specific way of drinking tea. Black tea, milk, (optional sugar), hot. If someone asks you if you want a cup of tea, they're asking if you want a very specific drink.


That's not to say we're unaware of other tea-drinking-methods, and, indeed, partake in them to about the same extent as anyone else does, but that one particular drink is what we mean when we say it, and we drink it all day, every day. If we ask if you want a cup of tea, you're not going to get green tea, or iced tea, or anything weird like that (and yes, most of us would consider those things a little weird and hippy).

Last edited by Candyman74; 12-27-2011 at 08:49 AM.
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Old 12-27-2011, 09:17 AM
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So, if I was in Britain and wanted a cup of tea I should just ask for it, correct? And expect a tea bag (which is totally fine by me - I'm not a tea snob) and black tea.

What would be the proper way to request it without milk? I expect as an American it wouldn't be considered to weird to ask for it that way.

Frankly, I think in some ways it would be a relief to be in a country where tea was understood to be something so specific unless otherwise specified - in recent years here not only have varieties of tea proliferated, but all sorts of weird herbal things AND a proclivity to add completely unnecessary fruity flavors to it. Sometimes to the point of overwhelming the tea flavor.
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Old 12-27-2011, 09:29 AM
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Actually, UK teas can now be found in the US. My supermarket has PG Tips and Taylors of Harrowgate for sale, or you can go to the English Tea Store online.
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Old 12-27-2011, 09:38 AM
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In Italy the tea bags are also all individually wrapped in paper which strikes me as strange but I assume it to be because they don't use them quickly enough and worry about staleness.
I'm of the opinion that if a tea bag comes individually wrapped then it is crap tea. All the proper teas come in a big box with about eleventy million of the fellas in there. I'm a PG man myself, which I can thankfully get reasonably easily here in Stockholm.

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Everything said up-thread rings true, especially about the kettles, I have one here in Italy and it is quite a conversation piece, as Italians boil water for tea in a saucepan. Yuk.
I had to buy a kettle for my office. Swedes seem entirely content to make tea using water from the coffee machine that isn't anywhere near the correct temperature. I was having none of that. My moaning about this, bringing my own teabags to work and eventually buying the kettle myself caused much amusement amongst locals and apparently signified that I was "very British".

Last edited by amanset; 12-27-2011 at 09:38 AM.
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Old 12-27-2011, 09:42 AM
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What would be the proper way to request it without milk? I expect as an American it wouldn't be considered to weird to ask for it that way.
Black tea.

"Black tea", as in the type of tea, isn't really said in the UK. It is just "tea", all the other ones get adjectives to point out how they are different to tea.
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Old 12-27-2011, 09:43 AM
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So, if I was in Britain and wanted a cup of tea I should just ask for it, correct? And expect a tea bag (which is totally fine by me - I'm not a tea snob) and black tea.

What would be the proper way to request it without milk? I expect as an American it wouldn't be considered to weird to ask for it that way.
Yup. Just ask for " a cup of tea" (or "a cuppa") and the above is exactly what you'll get. If you wanted something else, you'd have to specify specifically. It's very much the ubiquitous cheap, common drink; not supposed to be anything but.

And yes, you'd be looked at kinda odd for not having milk. If in someone's home, they'll probably add the milk automatically unless you think to mention it beforehand - they'll ask how you like it, and what they mean by that is "how many teaspoons of sugar?", the common answers being "no sugar/just one/two sugars please". If in a cafe or somewhere, the milk will come in a little jug - not because they imagine you might choose not to have the milk, but so you can (a) decide how much to have and (b) have a second cup from the little stainless steel teapot they'll also give.

Last edited by Candyman74; 12-27-2011 at 09:44 AM.
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Old 12-27-2011, 09:44 AM
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Yup. Just ask for " a cup of tea" the above is exactly what you'll get. If you wanted something else, you'd have to specify specifically. It's very much the ubiquitous cheap, common drink; not supposed to be anything but.


And yes, you'd be looked at kinda odd for not having milk. If in someone's home, they'll probably add the milk automatically unless you think to mention it beforehand - they'll ask how you like it, and what they mean by that is "how many teaspoons of sugar?", the common answers being "no sugar/just one/two sugars please". If in a cafe or somewhere, the milk will come in a little jug - not because they imagine you might choose not to have the milk, but so you can (a) decide how much to have and (b) have a second cup from the little stainless steel teapot they'll also give.
My Mum drinks black tea, but she's Scottish.
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Old 12-27-2011, 09:46 AM
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Actually, UK teas can now be found in the US. My supermarket has PG Tips and Taylors of Harrowgate for sale, or you can go to the English Tea Store online.
A British friend of mine had a good laugh about this last time he was here to visit. "Why on earth would you pay $8 a box when you can get perfectly serviceable tea in the main tea section?" He drank my regular old Red Rose (that's a brand, not a flavor FYI) with no complaints. Although he did seem to use the term "builders tea" to definitely indicate milk and sugar.
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Old 12-27-2011, 09:51 AM
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I became a tea drinker when I was in England and found their coffee undrinkable. Then I happily discovered good tea! I search for it in the US, and in NY it is easily findable, both loose and in bags.

Black only--good tea is ruined by cream or sugar. And I like strong black Russian or China teas, none of that green cat-piss for me.
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Old 12-27-2011, 10:20 AM
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I'm a football/soccer fan, and a lot of times at halftime, the announcers will mention the players having a cup of tea in the locker room (dressing room). Are the players really having tea at that point? I can't see it as being refreshing at all. I wouldn't have coffee during a game of anything.

Also, I get that the water *should* be boiling hot while the tea steeps, but do Brits drink it boiling hot, too? Or is that just the best was to get the right flavor, and then they wait for it to cool a bit? I can't drink piping hot coffee, so I usually have to wait 10 to 15 minutes (another reason I can't imagine having tea at halftime).
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Old 12-27-2011, 10:20 AM
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I'm of the opinion that if a tea bag comes individually wrapped then it is crap tea. All the proper teas come in a big box with about eleventy million of the fellas in there.
See, it's the opposite here in the US (in general). Only bargain house-brand tea bags come without individual wrappers, and Og knows how long those have been on the shelf gathering dust and going stale. Might as well use straw.

The exception would be high-end teas that come in actual tins, which helps keep them fresh.
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Old 12-27-2011, 10:23 AM
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See, it's the opposite here in the US (in general). Only bargain house-brand tea bags come without individual wrappers, and Og knows how long those have been on the shelf gathering dust and going stale. Might as well use straw.
Red Rose doesn't come individually wrapped and neither does Lipton or Tetley, and all are perfectly good teas.
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Old 12-27-2011, 10:53 AM
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Also, I get that the water *should* be boiling hot while the tea steeps, but do Brits drink it boiling hot, too?
You can't put boiling water in your mouth! Try it, and let us know when you get back from the hospital.

Yes, it has to cool a bit. The milk helps cool it, so you don't have to wait long. Under a minute, once milk's been added.

Last edited by Candyman74; 12-27-2011 at 10:54 AM.
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Old 12-27-2011, 11:03 AM
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Red Rose doesn't come individually wrapped and neither does Lipton or Tetley, and all are perfectly good teas.
What, your Lipton bags don't have a paper wrapper around each bag? That's not individually wrapped?

I'm not really familiar with the other two, so perhaps they aren't wrapped after all. I do know unwrapped house brands (which Lipton's, Red Rose, and Tetley's aren't) are typically stale by the time you buy them.
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Old 12-27-2011, 11:15 AM
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Yup. Just ask for " a cup of tea" (or "a cuppa") and the above is exactly what you'll get. If you wanted something else, you'd have to specify specifically. It's very much the ubiquitous cheap, common drink; not supposed to be anything but.

And yes, you'd be looked at kinda odd for not having milk. If in someone's home, they'll probably add the milk automatically unless you think to mention it beforehand - they'll ask how you like it, and what they mean by that is "how many teaspoons of sugar?", the common answers being "no sugar/just one/two sugars please". If in a cafe or somewhere, the milk will come in a little jug - not because they imagine you might choose not to have the milk, but so you can (a) decide how much to have and (b) have a second cup from the little stainless steel teapot they'll also give.
If asked how you like it IME they also mean how strong do you want it .
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Old 12-27-2011, 11:16 AM
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I'm a Brit living in Italy. I buy my favourite tea in the international shop here unlesss I can get visitors to bring it over for me.

I drink Twinings Earl Grey, there is a version of it here in Italy, made by Twinings, but it doesn't taste anything like the English one. Italian tea is much weaker, I like my tea strong, or as you would say in England "Stewed" or "Cabbage Water".

In Italy the tea bags are also all individually wrapped in paper
That's the way Twinings is packaged here in the US, too.
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Old 12-27-2011, 11:18 AM
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I'm a football/soccer fan, and a lot of times at halftime, the announcers will mention the players having a cup of tea in the locker room (dressing room). Are the players really having tea at that point? I can't see it as being refreshing at all. I wouldn't have coffee during a game of anything.
It seems unlikely. The traditional half time refreshment used to be orange quarters (for the juice, I suppose) but these days I would guess the players drink "sports drink" type stuff.
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Old 12-27-2011, 11:25 AM
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If asked how you like it IME they also mean how strong do you want it .
I don't often hear people answer in terms of strength. Sometimes they do, but only if their taste is unusually strong or weak.
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Old 12-27-2011, 11:46 AM
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Lipton--at least the crap they hand out in diners--is not "a perfectly good tea." It is The Bitter Tea of General Yen.
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Old 12-27-2011, 11:51 AM
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OK. To each their own. My feeling about tea is the same as my feeling about coffee: I'm perfectly happy with the inexpensive standard stuff, and if I ever develop a taste for the finer, more expensive types, that will cost me a lot of money. So I will continue to be happy with the inexpensive standard stuff. Although actually I usually just have Red Rose around, because it tends to be on sale most often.
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Old 12-27-2011, 12:09 PM
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Lipton--at least the crap they hand out in diners--is not "a perfectly good tea." It is The Bitter Tea of General Yen.
Half the problem with Lipton's in diners is that the water isn't hot enough to make tea. Use boiling water and it becomes quite a bit more acceptable.
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Old 12-27-2011, 01:00 PM
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That's the way Twinings is packaged here in the US, too.
If it is as horrible as Italian Twinings I feel sorry for you. I buy English Twinings which is much stronger, in a box of 50, no individual wrappers.

I drink my tea hot, I let it brew for about 5 minutes, add milk and start sipping immediately, can't bear it tepid. As Candyman 74 said, the milk cools it down which is just as well.

If someone I don' know well asks how I like my tea I'd reply "stewed, splash of milk, no sugar." People ask because they expect specifics!
  #35  
Old 12-27-2011, 01:18 PM
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Aussie exiled in California here. Among my circle back home, we all drink Dilmah, which I can buy online here. Standard, but good quality, plain black tea. I get it in big boxes of tea bags (200?), and not individually wrapped.

Alas, I can't drink it at work - the water here is so hard, it reacts with the tannins in the tea and forms a digusting film. I drink Genmai Cha (Japanese green tea with roast brown rice) instead, as it has much lower tannin levels, and is also yummy. Doesn't stain my teeth, too.
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Old 12-27-2011, 01:30 PM
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From Chicago, I didn't know I liked tea until I visited friends in England.

My usual is loose Twinings, which I buy in a big canister from the Indian shops on Devon. It's decent, strong black tea. When I can't get that, I default to Aldi's house brand of tea bags. Like a lot of Aldi's stuff, it is usually good quality and very cheap. I brew a pot then strain it into a vacuum carafe that keeps it hot enough to drink three cups. At night, I switch to decaf.

My wife, who I love, insists on stewing her tea to undrinkability. If you want strong tea, toss an extra teabag into the pot - don't leave it in the pot for ten minutes or squeeze the bags!
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Old 12-27-2011, 01:34 PM
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Had to chime in here. Even though I am American I learned to drink tea from some British friends (they also introduced me to a proper G&T). I've come to really love a proper cuppa.

I just received a little gift from a friend yesterday - I have access to boiling water at work, but all of the tea I have is loose leaf so I haven't been able to enjoy it while there. I'm temping so I don't want to carry around stuff, or else I'd use my IngenuiTEA. I've had it for years and it works like a charm but I can't really use it where I am.

My friend knows this so she gave me a box of disposable tea filters. This morning I loaded one up with an old favorite (Harney's Queen Catherine) and I've been enjoying it all day now. The disposable bag is sturdy enough for re-steeping, so as long as the tea you have is up to that task you can drink 4-5 cups from one of the bags.
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Old 12-27-2011, 01:34 PM
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Half the problem with Lipton's in diners is that the water isn't hot enough to make tea. Use boiling water and it becomes quite a bit more acceptable.
Why the hell am I being charged the same price as a cup of coffee for a tea bag and a pot of lukewarm water?

For all the worship of coffee in this country, why is it seemingly impossible to get a cup of brewed tea? Then again, I haven't looked into any of these new tea chains like Argo. Do they actually have brewed tea, or is it just fancy packaging for a place that will hand me a cup of non-boiling water and a tea bag?
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Old 12-27-2011, 03:25 PM
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Obligatory link: George Orwell's A Nice Cup of Tea.

This was of course in the pre- tea bag era.
  #40  
Old 12-27-2011, 03:26 PM
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Half the problem with Lipton's in diners is that the water isn't hot enough to make tea. Use boiling water and it becomes quite a bit more acceptable.
Our break room is coffeecentric, but they've stocked it with a few "tea" bags. That is, Green Tea, Camomile & Earl Gray. I'd far prefer Plain Lipton's to that nasty stuff. Of course, the only hot water is lukewarm, from the red spigot on the water cooler....

(This thread has convinced me to bring in a little electric kettle & some decent teabags for the afternoon. Coffee is great in the morning but not all day.)

Last edited by Bridget Burke; 12-27-2011 at 03:27 PM.
  #41  
Old 12-27-2011, 03:28 PM
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I really wish people would stop trying to foist things like "camomile" off as tea. It's not tea. It's an herbal infusion. Worse yet, it does nothing for my caffeine addiction and half of them annoy my allergies.
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Old 12-27-2011, 03:38 PM
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Also worth noting that if you ask anyone how they like their tea and they reply "Nato standard" they mean milk and two sugars.
  #43  
Old 12-27-2011, 03:41 PM
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6) Tell me anything I missed.
You're bound to find something on the TVTropes Useful Notes page on Tea and Tea Culture. Here's some stuff I did not know:

Quote:
•The Other Wiki notes that British Tanks contain "a boiling vessel (BV) also known as a kettle or "bivvie" for water which can be used to brew tea, produce other hot beverages and heat "boil-in-the-bag" meals contained in ration packs." This is an absolute requirement, and a unique one, for British armoured vehicles. (The Americans working with the Brits in Afghanistan and Iraq are jealous; they appreciate being allowed to use them and the Brits were only too glad to let them.)

• During half-time during the FA Cup Final, extra power generation capability is online to cope with all the kettles being boiled. The Brits love plug-in, fast-heating electric kettles (probably precisely because they facilitate making tea) over stovetops or microwaves, a trend that didn't much catch on in the States except for college dorms (and more for ramen than tea).
◦ Electric kettles sold in the British Isles are generally rated at 3 kW - it's generally not possible (ignoring the voltage differences) to use an appliance that uses so much power in North American households without getting your kitchen re-wired. A NEMA 5-20R (T-slot) outlet typically found in modern kitchens in the US will only deliver a maximum of around 2.4 kW. There are lower power kettles (cheap junk sold in the UK can be anything from 1.5-2 kW) but they're slow as hell in comparison.
◦ This is the reason why rapid-response power stations such as Dinorwig were built, which can from idling to full power within seconds to accommodate sudden surges in demand. That's right: in the UK they've built specialist power stations inside mountains just so the entire nation can use their high-powered kettles at the same time.
◦ The same effect also apparently happens far more regularly at the end of soap operas: Britain from Above featured a segment showing a National Grid employee watching TV waiting for the end of EastEnders (IIRC) in order to bring online the extra generators needed to cope with the power surge.
◦ Domestic power consumption can double in a few seconds with the load from kettles. This is why we have the fastest responding pumped storage power station in the world. Dinorwig in Wales can bring 1320MW of capacity on line in 12 seconds. All to make tea.
◦ Immediately after the recent televised wedding of Prince William and now-Duchess Kate ended, British utilities reported a surge of electricity consumption approximating 2,400 megawatts, or about 1 million households boiling kettles. (This was not the all-time record; that'd be 2,800 MW consumed right after the 1990 World Cup England-Germany semifinal game ended.)
◦ In fact, British commercial breaks are designed to accommodate the making of tea. It takes roughly three minutes to boil the kettle and make 1-3 cups of tea. Commercial breaks are roughly just over 3 minutes long and the volume is increased substantially over main programmes so that Brits in the kitchen can hear them.

Last edited by BrainGlutton; 12-27-2011 at 03:42 PM.
  #44  
Old 12-27-2011, 03:43 PM
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I really wish people would stop trying to foist things like "camomile" off as tea. It's not tea. It's an herbal infusion. Worse yet, it does nothing for my caffeine addiction and half of them annoy my allergies.
The word for those herbal preparations is "tisanes." They have their places--I quite like Red Zinger over ice--but the marketing folks have packaged Camomile with Green Tea & that nasty Early Gray as The Office Alternative. (Over here, of course.)

Then, there was our long-ago administrator who decided that only decaf coffee would be available in the afternoon. She was corrected very quickly....
  #45  
Old 12-27-2011, 03:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Damfino View Post
Obligatory link: George Orwell's A Nice Cup of Tea.

This was of course in the pre- tea bag era.
I thought he was talking about teabags here:

Quote:
Fifthly, the tea should be put straight into the pot. No strainers, muslin bags or other devices to imprison the tea. In some countries teapots are fitted with little dangling baskets under the spout to catch the stray leaves, which are supposed to be harmful. Actually one can swallow tea-leaves in considerable quantities without ill effect, and if the tea is not loose in the pot it never infuses properly.
Anyone care to agree or disagree with the bolded part?
  #46  
Old 12-27-2011, 03:50 PM
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There IS a problem with Earl Grey these days - I've been an Earl Grey drink for 30 years now. It used to be Earl Grey was:

TEA with (bergamot)

Now it is (tea) with BERGAMOT

This is in keeping with the hideous trend of "flavored" teas. If you don't like the way tea tastes don't drink it!
  #47  
Old 12-27-2011, 03:56 PM
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There IS a problem with Earl Grey these days - I've been an Earl Grey drink for 30 years now. It used to be Earl Grey was:

TEA with (bergamot)

Now it is (tea) with BERGAMOT

This is in keeping with the hideous trend of "flavored" teas. If you don't like the way tea tastes don't drink it!
Do you have proof they've actually changed the recipe?
  #48  
Old 12-27-2011, 04:06 PM
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You're bound to find something on the TVTropes Useful Notes page on Tea and Tea Culture. Here's some stuff I did not know:
And here's some more very interesting stuff I did not know:

Quote:
• The American Revolution was set off in part by tea. The Boston Tea Party occurred due to Parliament assuming it could tax the colonies without their say so, although, ironically, the final straw was lowering the tax on tea with the Tea Act, making it cheaper than tea smuggled in or imported legally from elsewhere, upsetting the smugglers and merchants who weren't in on the deal, who were the ones who actually dressed up and threw the legal tea into the harbor, then convinced most Americans that they were protesting a tax increase. Since most Americans bought from a smuggler (either directly or not) they had no clue as to what real prices were, so they bought the whole thing and followed the smugglers' lead. Consequently, the Intolerable Acts were enacted after several hundred pounds of tea were destroyed. The Intolerable Acts led to much chaos, protest, and generally warlike tendencies within the colonies. Soon, the British decided it was a good idea to seize the arsenal in Concord, Massachusetts. The result was the Battles of Lexington and Concord, which ignited the American Revolution.
◦ The reason coffee tends to be so much more popular than tea in America is mainly due to tea being associated with British imperialism - during the American Revolution, it was popular to give up tea in favor of coffee as a symbolic act of defiance, and coffee's popularity stuck. Of course, this really pissed off the tea smugglers that started the whole thing.
  #49  
Old 12-27-2011, 04:15 PM
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Originally Posted by BrainGlutton View Post
You're bound to find something on the TVTropes Useful Notes page on Tea and Tea Culture. Here's some stuff I did not know:
I'm not sure about the veracity of the entirety of that TV Tropes link, but there have been a few documentaries about grid engineers monitoring TV shows/ big football matches/ big national events in order to make sure that there's capacity to absorb the spikes. A load of that will be kettles switched on, other house lights going on (maybe toilet flushes?)
  #50  
Old 12-27-2011, 04:21 PM
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Texan here--where we drink most of our tea iced.
Texan here, Houston as well.
well not all of us drink it mostly iced. I prefer mine freshly steeped, hot.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Butterscotch View Post
In Italy the tea bags are also all individually wrapped in paper which strikes me as strange but I assume it to be because they don't use them quickly enough and worry about staleness.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Omega Glory View Post
That's the way Twinings is packaged here in the US, too.
The tea that I get are EG, but they're packed 4 to a pouch, in a kind of metallic paper wrapper. I assume the metallic interior coating is to prevent the paper taking or giving any taste/smell to the final brewed result.



Quote:
Originally Posted by BrainGlutton View Post

Quote:
and if the tea is not loose in the pot it never infuses properly.
Anyone care to agree or disagree with the bolded part?
I disagree, with qualifications.
I think that if the loose leaf container contraption does not impede the leaves in a significant manner, then it's probably peachy.
By that I mean that when I use a wire ball or plunger kettle (kinda like a french press, sorta) I allow for enough room for
a) the tea to fully expand without cramping, and
b) add enough water so that the water line is high enough to allow a, when using my kettle w/ integrated plunger hole.

Now, I'm among the unwashed masses, so that may be completely incorrect. But you didn't ask for fact, you asked for opinion.
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