So firstly, apologies to anyone not living in the UK who won’t be able to watch this…
But if you do live in the UK and you haven’t seen Victoria Wood’s two part documentary on tea, can I divert your attention to BBC iPlayer
I’m generally a bit rubbish at just sitting and watching television – without also having a magazine on my knee, or making something, or flicking through blogs online
However for programmes I really want to absorb, I give them my full attention – and I’m so glad I did for this documentary as I feel like I learnt a lot
Tea for two?
The first episode explained how tea was first imported from China to Britain, as a fine drink for the wealthy – and how that agreement was very much tied up with the opium trade (feeding two different addictions, as Victoria puts it!)
The Chinese were incredibly careful about keeping the details of growing and processing the tea plant secret from the British
Rightly so, as the Brits wanted to find out so they could make it themselves – as they finally did, on huge tea plantations in India
Since then having a nice cup of tea has turned into a national pasttime for everyone from the Queen down
Milk and sugar?
Victoria must have drank a lot of tea while filming the shows – and it was interesting to see how differently each county and individual took their’s
It made me laugh when she visited a tea shop called Tea and Sympathy in New York, run by a UK ex-pat who had started the business because (she says) Americans can’t make tea properly
She’d even written a ‘how to’ card (see E’s own guide to tea making here!)
I have to agree – but neither can any other country I’ve visited… in fact, I usually just stick to coffee on holiday
Of course they are making tea properly for their tastes – but it’s just not British!
The last part of the documentary looked at the future of tea
It’s still Britain’s most popular drink (after water) but it’s not as widely drunk as it once was
Coffee is well marketed by big corporations and people are more likely to pick up a coffee on the way into work, than a tea
Victoria spoke to a marketing team for a major tea company, who were looking at how to re-brand the image of tea to attract a younger crowd – even suggesting using Lady Gaga as an ambassador?!
I’m not sure they have too much to worry about though – tea is so entwined in British culture, I can’t ever imagine us not brewing up
I used to hate the taste, up until a couple of years ago
But I found it unavoidable – it’s something that’s always offered to you by friends, family and (sometimes) complete strangers
So I wanted to like it, and eventually I just got used to it – and now I wouldn’t be without
It’s inclusive, comforting and can act as an icebreaker
Finally, my favourite tea fact…
Green, black and white tea all come from the same plant – Camellia sinensis – they’re just processed differently
But I bet you already knew this, right?
Are you a tea or coffee person? Milk? Sugar?