This week we have a guest author on the blog - the lovely Jade Johnson, author of 'TEA... The Great British Answer To Everything!' and host of the podcast Fuelled By Tea, on which I was a guest a few weeks ago. A link to listen will be at the end of this blog post.
“Whether you consider it a philosophy or a dependency to be concerned about, there’s no denying that ‘Tea’ is a thread sewn deep into the fabric of British Culture. No decision can be made, no plan properly considered or celebration complete, without a cup of tea in one’s hand.”
These are the words that I tapped into my phone one day, using my spare hand, whilst snuggled up on the sofa with my newborn and I remember thinking how funny but how true it was… The British really do love their tea. And so it goes… I started chipping away at all the ways in which we Brit’s have embedded tea into our lives and low and behold, it became a book. That’s how much we Brits love tea… you can literally write a book on it!
No matter if you’re a mug-hugger or handle holder; tea leaves or tea bag lover; the words ‘I’ll put the kettle on,’ brings each one of us a genuine joy that’s hard to beat. So why do we love it so much? I’m quite certain that there are far more reasons than I can list but some of the main categories for consideration would be culture, connections and no doubt climate too.
It was only through the historic import of Tea to the shores of the UK by a soon to be Queen, Princess Catherine of Braganza, who adored tea and brought it with her (as any tea lover would), that we slightly more ‘common’ folk got a chance to experience it in the first place. Particularly in those days, if it was good enough for the Royals, then it was desirable to the wider community. Pop culture at its best you might say! Since then it has become somewhat of a National Standard and a clear part of our everyday culture.
Ask yourself, how many of the following apply to me?
- When you wake up in the morning, the first thing you do is put the kettle on.
- You’ve made a cup of tea, only to forget about it and think, ‘what a waste!’
- Genuine disappointment to you means making a cup of tea, only to discover that you’ve run out of milk.
- Upon arrival at someone’s house, you consider it poor form if they don’t offer you a cup of tea within the first fifteen minutes……. And so on!
Chances are, most British people can relate to all of these in some way, further adding to how dear tea really is to us.
In short, tea has a way of connecting us back to something we cherish for one reason or another. Family, friends, relaxing, creative bursts, a good book by the fire whilst it’s blowing a gale outside. The positive associations start young too! With children picking up on its everyday inclusion and no doubt its ability to bring a bit of happiness to their parents, grandparents or caregivers. It’s cemented very early on and as such becomes a natural progression for most growing up. I think it's still widely loved today for its ability to bring people together and to create mini moments that we all cherish.
I would be remiss not to mention the British climate and I hope to do so in a positive way. A brisk winters day, marching along outside (we tend not to shuffle along lethargically for fear of the cold catching up with us) taking in the change of colours from one season to the next ,and we get home to strip off the extra layers and warm our hands with a cup of tea in hand. It’s that ‘snug-as-a-bug’ feeling that makes home feel so good. Or it's a sunny spring day and you pop outside to sit with your morning cuppa to take in all the new colours starting to bloom in the garden. You can’t help but think to yourself ‘how good is this!’ Come rain, hail or shine and everything in between…. Our trusty cup of tea is there to add to the day. A drink for all seasons.
A cup of tea to a Brit means so many things, but the more people I am fortunate enough to chat with about it, the more I come to understand that it is a ‘bridge’ between people that keeps us connected and sharing something simple but very lovely with each other at the same time. A pot with a best friend, an end of day debrief with your partner, a reunion, celebration or a quiet minute with me, myself and I. Whatever the reason, tea is a much loved part of our British way of life and one that I hope continues to be shared and enjoyed for a long time to come.