The Importance of Tea to the British

The English language has so many words related to tea, tea break, teatime, afternoon tea, high tea, rich tea biscuit, teacup, tea plate tearooms, teapot, tea caddy, tea chest . Tea is important to the nation, Britain runs on tea. The Civil Service and the army could not run without it. Lorry drivers navigate by the transport cafes, that serve huge mugs of the amber liquid. Road menders brew tea on spirit lamps, down holes in the road.

When returning home from a holiday abroad the very first thing all British people do is to brew a decent cup of tea. The British are convinced that other nations cannot make a decent cuppa.

A British ex-pat living in another country will be so grateful for a present of proper English tea. I live in France; there were many lovely things in my Christmas parcel from my mum in England, but the best thing of all was a large packet of tea all wrapped up in Christmas paper. On the supermarket shelves in France there are packets labeled English Breakfast Tea. I have no idea what it is but I do know that it is not English Breakfast Tea.

Tea helped the United Kingdom to fight the Second World War. London survived the blitz because of tea; old newsreel shows Londoners, whose homes were undamaged handing out cups of tea to their neighbours, who had been bombed out. When the fleet of “Little ships” returned British soldiers from the beaches of Dunkirk, as the soldiers stepped on Untied Kingdom soil, the ladies of the WRVS (Women’s Royal Volunteer Service) greeted each soldier with a welcome cup of tea.

Many people remember Lyon’s corner houses, where real afternoon tea was served by “nippies” in black and white uniforms, and incidentally where working people and women could get a good lunch at a reasonable price. Although Lyon’s Corner houses have disappeared, under the onslaught of plastic coffee bars and fast food outlets, independent tearooms are still around. Tearooms serve proper afternoon tea with tea in a teapot served into china teacups with saucers and delicious sandwiches and cakes.

In households across the United Kingdom, news, joys, sorrows, difficulties and problems are still all debated over a cup of tea. The first thing most British people do in the morning, is put the kettle on for a cup of tea.

A recent BBC television series travelled around the United Kingdom to determine the best drink in the British Isles. On their travels, the two presenters learned about, and sampled mead, beer, wine, stout, whiskey, Perry, cider. At the end of the series of several programmes, the two presenters concluded that the best drink, in the British Isles, was a cup of tea. Tea’s importance to the British cannot be over-stated, The United Kingdom runs on tea.

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