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11 facts about tea

Updated: May 25

Impress your friends at your next tea party!

1. Brits drink 165 million cups of tea a day. That’s a staggering 60.2 billion a year.


2. All teas come from the same plant. So black, green, oolong, white and pu-erh all come from the camellia sinensis, a sub-tropical evergreen plant native to Asia but now grown all over the world.


3. Tea was first discovered in China by Shen Nung in 2737BC, who used it as an antidote to poisonous herbs.


4. The most expensive tea bag in the world was created by Boodles jewellers to celebrate PG Tips 75th birthday. The diamond-encrusted bag was worth £7000 and was auctioned off for charity.


5. In the 1700s, tea replaced gin as the UK’s favourite tipple. It’s said that it was introduced to these shores by Catherine of Braganza, queen of Charles II, who landed in Portsmouth in 1662 and asked for a calming cup of tea.


6. Tea really took hold in the UK thanks to the British East India Company, which held a monopoly on Chinese tea in the eighteenth century. Coffee was hard to come by as the UK went to war with France and Spain, cutting it off from countries that supplied it.


7. Until Victorian times, English upper classes pronounced it ‘tay’. It was seen as the preserve of the rich, and posh ladies would even carry the key to the tea caddy round their necks to keep it safe from maids.


8. Tea now grows in 52 countries – the oldest tree, in China, is 3,200 years old.


9. Scots have the sweetest tooth when it comes to their tea. 41% take sugar with their cuppa, compared to 26% of people in Yorkshire.


10. Thought Brits were the biggest tea drinkers? You’d be wrong! In fact, Ireland has the highest amount of tea consumption per person, with 75% of the population gulping down tea at an average of six cups a day.


11. Expenditure on coffee in Britain first overtook the amount spent on tea in 1998

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