When people think of tea, it is commonly associated with the UK, and for good reason. The United Kingdom is the largest per capita tea consumer in the world, the average British person drinking around 2.5 kilos of tea annually (why don't I live there?). But what has always bothered me was how people differentiate 'British Tea' from other types of tea. What's the difference?
When someone is referring to British tea they are talking about simple black tea, either loose leaf or bagged, usually taken with milk and with one or two teaspoons of sugar in it. There isn't really a special ingredient that singles it out from any other sort of tea. You can have 'British Tea' anywhere. Why it is known as being specifically British however comes from tradition.
Tea is not only a beverage but a light meal served in the late afternoon. The idea was introduced in the 1800's and is still practised today. Tea is not even required at 'Tea'. It can be simply a snack consisting of small sandwiches or pastries such as scones to ward of the hunger that might be apparent between lunch and dinner.
There are certain protocols to hosting a formal Tea, such as specific steeping instructions and the use of particular china, however those terms are loosly followed in today's culture. Today Tea is a light snack and the drink is brewed whenever, usually kept in a mug rather than a teacup and a saucer. And that's not to say black tea is the only type they have in the UK, they do have others like flavoured greens and whites, they are just harder to come by.
For Christmas my friend bought me a cute little British tea set. It was three containers (painted to look like a Telephone Booth, A Double Decker Bus and a Post Box) of black loose leaf labelled, English Breakfast, English Afternoon and London Tea. I was curious on the actual difference between them because honestly they didn't taste that different to me. But when I read the back, all it said for all three was INGREDIENTS: TEA. Helpful.
So I was wondering, do you know the difference between them? Have you ever participated in the British Tea tradition? Do you know any other tea related traditions? I'd love to learn more, let me know in the comments!