Tea is an important part of British culture. We drink it, we sing about little teapots ‘short and stout’ and even have stories associated with it. The Tiger Who Came to Tea, for instance, is a popular book by author Judith Kerr that’s been turned into a children’s play. But why is tea such a big deal and so comforting for many? Let’s delve deeper.
The History of Tea in the UK
The world began to unravel China’s tea drinking secrets in the early 1600s when Dutch traders started bringing tea leaves to Europe in large quantities. It arrived in Britain in the mid-seventeenth century and quickly became popular in London’s coffee houses. Due to its high cost, it was mostly consumed by the upper class and British nobility. It was regularly served at high society gatherings and became associated with women and the home.
Following the importation of such an exotic, high-end product, the Brits became more and more fascinated with East Asia. In no time, Chinese porcelain was arriving on British shores and Chinese styles were being incorporated into local fashions. Tea became a status symbol for the rich and many aristocratic families wanted a family portrait painted while sipping tea.
Tea drinking became mainstream by the 18th century, particularly in expanding urban areas and soon, Britain was under pressure to supply even more tea leaves. This led to new tea leaf plantations being established by the British Empire in countries such as India. It also gave rise to several political, tea-related conflicts.
The Cultural Importance of Tea
Tea drinking rituals differ from country-to-country, but one thing remains the same across the globe. A cup of tea brings people together and is a great way to make people feel comfortable, whether you’re hosting friends or attending a business meeting. Tea also has soothing qualities. In Britain, tea solves a wide range of issues and is used to comfort people having a bad day. It’s also served during casual meetups, with friends bonding over a warm brew.
In fact, tea drinking is so integral to our British lifestyle that if you don’t drink tea, you can feel like an outcast. In office settings, tea makers are adored. They’ll receive high praise for bringing the perfect cuppa to other employees and can impress by using the right quantities of tea and milk. Making tea with colleagues is also the perfect chance to have a little natter about things other than work. It’s a socially accepted excuse to get up from your desk and have a wander. Brits even dunk biscuits into their tea - but not any old bake. The ideal biscuit should be hardy and good for multiple dunks. Think Hobnobs or Digestives.
If you’re looking for ‘children’s theatre near me,’ don’t miss The Tiger Who Came to Tea. This roarsome production is one of the best children’s shows out there and is great fun for the whole family. Book your tickets today to join in the fun. Expect clumsy chaos, singalong songs and plenty of interactive moments. Don’t forget to shout as loud as you can when the tiger creeps onto the stage.