Don’t Get Egg on Your Face! Full English Exposé – The British Obsession with Tea (Easy)

The Full English Exposé teaches you more about the English speaking world, so you can be confident you know what you are doing, and you don’t do or say the wrong thing, and don’t get egg on your face.

This edition of the podcast we’re helping make sure you don’t get egg on your face, with the Full English Exposé, all about Tea.

For the hard version, click here.

The British Obsession with Tea

The British are known for our love of tea. We drink over 60 billion cups of tea a year. That’s more tea than 5300 Olympic swimming pools. We drink over twice as much tea as we drink water.

Tea first became popular in Britain’s coffee houses in the 17th century, when King Charles II wife, Queen Catherine of Braganza, started the custom of drinking tea in the British Court.

Tea imports increased. In the 19th century, we imported so much tea from China that it caused big money problems. To solve this, the British sold opium to the Chinese. This caused major drug and money problems for China. When they tried to stop the opium imports, we had two wars to force them to continue: the Opium Wars, which killed millions of people. All because the British really like tea.

We mostly drink cheap, strong, black tea, from a big mug, made using a tea-bag, usually with milk and often sugar too. Tea made this way is called builder’s tea, due to its popularity with tradesmen, but it’s well-loved by nearly everyone.

Builder’s is an everyday tea for every situation. A morning cuppa, a quick drink between jobs, something to wet your whistle as you have a good natter, and to cheer people up, along with the phrase “I’ll get you a nice cup of tea”.

For an occasion, we’d serve our tea in dainty cups, resting on saucers. We’d use loose-leaf tea, not tea-bags, and a more refined flavour – maybe a black tea like ‘darjeeling’ or an oolong, green or smoked tea. Earl Grey is very popular too. Flavoured with Bergamot oranges, it was made famous by the Earl Charles Grey, an English Prime-Minister in the 19th century.

People argue about how to make the best tea. Whether you put the leaves or water into the pot first. If you have to warm to pot to avoid scalding the tea. Whether loose-leaf tea tastes better than tea-bags. If you should add milk to a cup before or after pouring the tea.

There’s a stereotype that posh people hold their little finger out when they drink their posh tea from posh cups. The story is that cultured people would only eat with their first three fingers. So, people would stick out their little fingers, hoping people would notice and think they were cultured. No-one does this seriously anymore, but you’ll often see it done for a joke.

Is all this talk making you thirsty? Only one thing to do: pop the kettle on, and have a nice, hot, cup of tea!

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