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Tea culture in Britain, China and the United States

Everyone may not be a tea connoisseur but it's uncanny how different nationalities bring with it their own norms and taboos for prepping and drinking tea.

The Brits and their cuppa

It is evident that tea is a source of sanity and inspiration in the island of Great Britain as most of its esteemed authors have a quote about their favourite beverage; Arthur Wing Pinero sentimentally stating, “Where there is tea, there is hope.”

Tea first, Milk second
Tea first, milk second

The Brits don’t always pull out elegant china and have crumpets on hand but they do have a distinct pattern in how they prepare this household staple.

For one thing, they like their tea light and strong. Ceylon tea is a favourite for morning and afternoon teas; typically black and preferably loose-leaf, are enjoyed with fresh, low-fat milk. The Brits also take temperature very seriously when prepping and some go as far as using a pre-warmed teapot to pour in the boiling water, wrapped in a fluffy tea-cosy for further insulation.

The usual motto is “tea first, milk second” as too much milk can prove to be a catastrophe. Tea is typically drunk with sweetener, accompanied with biscuits, scones or a hearty slice of cake.

China’s tea rituals

Tea is the heart and soul of Chinese culture and it’s not surprising that this nation treats tea preparation as a beloved art.

Chinese Tea Culture
Chinese tea culture

The Chinese use loose leaf tea prepared in unique and delicate tea sets which are initially warmed and handled with tongs. The tea that makes its grand entry into the teapot is typically a measure of one teaspoon for every six ounces of hot water. Most commonly relished are Black, White, Oolong and Green teas drunk in their completely natural form. The steeping is conducted according to the type and quality of the tea leaves and is finally enjoyed slowly, without milk or sweetener.

The ceremonial tea tradition is not the only way of preparing tea, however; there is also the special Gaiwan teapot for both convenient and quality tea-making as well as the mundane tea in a pot that is also used in China despite its slight on tradition!

The American style of tea

Whereas in Britain, tea is a staple and in China, it is a tradition; in the U.S. it is a trend that can be played with and innovated as much as one desires.

Ice Tea
Ice tea

Americans opt for iced teas over ‘hot teas’ and are not afraid to splurge on the unconventional flavours like the Starbucks iced chai lattes and honey citrus mint tea and deck the drinks with syrupy sweeteners. This hitherto coffee-loving nation has seen a rise in the consumption of tea; particularly of the black variety, and fruity as well as green teas claim a significant level of ardour.

Unlike in Britain and China, there isn’t a precedence on how tea should be made but we’re confident that in good time America will find its own signature standard for its tea. 

About the author

Lasith Lansakara

Lasith Lansakara

Co-founder at teakruthi

Lasith is a co-founder at teakruthi and occasionally a contributing blogger to the Tea Break. His writes on topics that include the health benefits of different teas and the various tea cultures he's experienced across the world. Lasith is a true and avid #TeaLover. His favourite morning cuppa tea is teakruthi's Lemon Kandy and Blissful Harmon for the midday lull.

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