Watch: Nice Cup of Tea

Gingerbread and tea

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

(I’ve missed out a lot of history here – but the UK Tea Council has some excellent information, or you can watch the documentary of course)

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?

See also: E visits Betty’s Tea Rooms; How to make the perfect cuppa; How to make Teacup Candles

Are you a tea or coffee person? Milk? Sugar?

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4 thoughts on “Watch: Nice Cup of Tea

  1. Laura says:

    I do love my tea, and just watched the 1st episode of the documentaries, it was really good! Thanks for the recommendation x

  2. hi E & B,

    my name is Retno. I am Indonesian living in The Netherlands. I did watch Victoria Wood’s two-part documentary program on tea for we have BBC channels run here. I was almost half way late in watching the first part. I could watch fully the 2nd part. I found the documentary very interesting. It is partly because I am a great tea drinker. I love tea!
    I wonder if you have ever read “The Secret Mandarin”. If you have not, I recommend you to read it. It is a novel written by Sara Sheridan based on true history…. about tea.. I found the book very interesting and exciting.. :) Have a good weekend. – Retno –

    • makedospend says:

      Hi Retno – glad you enjoyed what you could watch of the documentary! I haven’t read the book but I’ll add it to my to-read list! Thanks for stopping by :) B x

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