When you think of Britain, chances are you’ll think of Harry Potter, Buckingham Palace and tea. But there have been some troublesome murmurs through media outlets in recent years that something terrible could be afoot for Britishness as a concept. It seems that in this world gone mad, British people are allegedly drinking less tea than we used to.
But who is to blame for this atrocity? Brexit? iPhones? Millennials?
We shouldn’t declare a state of emergency just yet though. While research shows traditional tea consumption was down by 870 million cups in 2017, the value of tea rose 0.6%. The market is far from floundering; so, what is happening to the British cup of tea?
What tea drinker are you?
Interestingly, half of tea brands have said that 24-35 year olds is the demographic that’s increasing for them the most. Perhaps because of this, the view of tea has changed. It’s no longer a milky, warm beverage that sits on a table while people discuss problems, though it is still the go-to makeshift remedy for everything from a bad day at work to a broken leg. Now, tea has a swathe of health benefits to its name. It’s more than murky brown leaf-water; it’s a bright and colourful variety of health and wellness beverages. Unsurprisingly then, 80 per cent of brands are watching the wellness trend as a key asset for tea.
1. Is it more important to you for your tea to be comforting or healthy?
- If a good strong brew can’t fix it, it’s probably not worth fixing.
- A good tea should give me energy, pep, and cleanse my inner being.
2. Your perfect cup of tea would be…
- Creamy or milky. Best described as a ‘hug in a mug’.
- Whether it’s red, blue, green, or purple, it needs to be bright and beautiful.
3. Sensory-wise, you expect your tea experience to be…
- Sweet, or sweet-ish. If you wanted to assault your tongue with bitter tones, you’d have ordered a coffee…
- Sensual, or aromatic. The experience of my tea is not just in taste but in smell. It should pamper my nose as much as my tongue.
Did you answer a? Well, you’re a traditionalist. You care about your tea being a healing drink, but not necessarily in the sense of it carrying antioxidants or being hydrating. It’s just about comfort for you, a means to relax and calm down with a soothing cup of milky tea.
Did you answer b? You’re a modernist. Times are changing, and so is your go-to tea. Your tea isn’t always designed to make you fall into a milk-and-sugar-wrapped blanket of cosy warmth. Sure, camomile tea will relax you when you need it, but you have tea for every occasion. For energy, for a cold, for digestion, for preserving health, for anxiety, you name it, you’ve got a type of tea to wind around all the senses and sort it right out.
Constant growth for tea
Although you may be used to putting the kettle on, having a cuppa has become more of an experience these days. This ties in with the rise of herbal teas over standard black leaf tea — herbal teas come in so many varieties, from all over the world, and often have intricate ceremonies or stories attached to them. These aspects are as much of the ‘sensual’ experience as the tea itself. Cafés and tea rooms have been using this to their benefit too, offering tea experiences for their customers, such as offering food created to complement the flavour of different herbal teas, or brewing the leaves in a beautiful antique silver teapot in order to achieve a higher brewing temperature than a normal teapot, and making use of silver’s neutrality, protecting the pure taste of the tea. The whole experience is catered for the customer’s enjoyment.
What you need to know about tea
When looking at the rainbow tea varieties, what is the actual meaning behind them?
Red = hibiscus tea
Hibiscus tea has a sweet and tart taste and is popular in North Africa and Southeast Asia. Particularly in Africa, hibiscus tea is touted as having many benefits, including helping with a sore throat and high blood pressure. Indeed, one study has noted that hibiscus tea contributed to the reduction of the systolic blood pressure of its participants.
Blue = butterfly pea flower tea
Now, here’s one for Instagram. This blue brew changes colour depending on the pH level of ingredients added to it — for example, a little lemon will turn it purple! Butterfly pea flower tea sounds fancy, looks fancy, but does it bring anything fancy to the table of health benefits? The sapphire-hued drink has been used for centuries in Asia, but it’s only started fluttering into the western world of tea in recent years. The tea, like green tea, carries a lot of antioxidants, and has been tied to claims of protecting the skin. There are studies that support butterfly pea flower tea’s ability to help reduce internal inflammation.
Orange = barley tea
This tea is popular in the likes of Korea, China and Japan. Served hot or cold depending on the season, this go-to Korean drink is made from whole grain roasted barley and has a mild nutty taste. Like hibiscus tea, it is caffeine-free. There are a lot of health claims tied to barley tea, but only few have been proven by scientific study. These range from claims to help with cold symptoms, aiding a sore stomach, clearing complexion, and even weight loss. But, if nothing else, it’s a great caffeine-free alternative to coffee and traditional tea!
Yellow = lemon and honey tea
The beloved remedy of many cold and flu sufferers, lemon and honey tea is uniquely soothing. This golden-coloured tea has the main claim to fame for fighting cold symptoms, but it’s also been said to help with everything from weight loss to acne. With the vitamin C boost from the lemon, and the cough-supressing nature of the honey, this is a drink that does have some scientific backing in terms of helping with a cough and general sniffles. But sadly the claims of clearing acne and weight loss are as yet unconfirmed by scientific study. Still, it is definitely one to reach for next time cold season comes around.
Green = green tea
Green tea is known to have many health benefits. You’d be forgiven for thinking green tea was brewed from the Fountain of Youth, for all the attention it has gained in the wellness industry. But are any of the stories true? Luckily, the answer is yes. Green tea is packed with antioxidants and catechins, the latter of which could slow down bacterial growth. The green brew has also been claimed to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and boost metabolic rate.
Believe it or not tea does count towards your daily water needs, with the dehydrating claims of tea having been debunked. So, top up that tea cup — it’s trendy and healthy!