National Tea Day
Today (21st of April) is National Tea Day in the UK, a celebration of the drink, that is so deeply engrained within the national psyche, that it fundamentally fuels much of Britains’ stereotypical image to the world. For about 3 centuries, here in the UK, 4pm signals an almost ritualistic tradition of ‘afternoon tea’, and whilst nowadays being far from from the aristocratic image usually associated with it, it is nevertheless an undeniable part of the British routine. From cafes to construction sites across the UK a tea break is an important aspect of people’s everyday schedule . It represents and embodies so many aspects of our collective sense of British-ness from socialising, to work breaks, and even a point of stress relief. Or as novelist Jasper Fforde puts it “there is no problem on earth that can’t be ameliorated by a hot bath and a cup of tea”, we are truly a nation of tea drinkers.
Story Of Tea
Of-course we are far from alone in our adoration of tea. Behind water it is the most consumed drink on the planet, with an estimated 297 billion litres being consumed annually, and is by all means a truly ancient drink. Tea itself started to permeate the coffeehouses and markets of London in the mid 17th century, but the drinks origin story can be traced all the way back to 2737 BC in China, with the legend being that Emporer Shen Nung discovered it when the wind blew leaves into a pot of boiling water.
Within European history the first mention of tea can be seen in 1555 by Giovanni Battista Ramusio in his work Voyages and Travels, and the first evidence of tea being traded to Europe was in 1606 by the Dutch. From that point onward the popularity of the drink exploded in the western world (having been hugely popular in other parts of the globe for centuries prior). Initially it was viewed as a luxury drink for special occasions, but by the 19th century, aided by huge importations of Indian tea, it had become an everyday item in the UK and across much of Europe.
Tea also played a key role in shaping the socio-political landscape of the modern world. Look no further than the story of the United States to showcase this, with the Tea act of 1773 and subsequent Boston Tea Party being key factors leading to the outbreak of the American War of Independence just 2 years later.
Whilst the 21st of April celebrates the British love of tea, it’s important to remember that it is very much the worlds drink. There are over 20,000 varieties of tea that all have their own stories and unique history. From Senegals Ataya tea tradition to Afternoon tea a vast amount of communities and countries have deep cultural connections to the drink. In America alone there are an estimated 159 million daily consumers of tea and it is still, even after thousands of years, a growing market with a predict 6.9% annual growth until 2023.
Sproud x UKTA
At Sproud we are strongly aware of the importance of tea which is why we would also like to take this opportunity to formally announce our official partnership with the UK Tea Academy (UKTA). Founded in 2015 by one of the foremost tea experts in the world, Jane Pettigrew, author of 17 books on the subject of tea, and winner of the British Empire Award in 2016 (as well as a whole host of other prestigious accolades) the UKTA provides students with the highest level of education on all aspects of tea, from sommelier courses to understanding the history of, and allows for graduates to leave with a insightful and profound knowledge of the world of tea, as well as a professionally recognized accreditation, to propel them to success careers in the food and beverage industry and beyond. The UKTA is regarded as the leading UK body for tea training and its success has lead to the UKTA being franchised across the world in places such as South Korea, Italy, and Japan.
We at Sproud are extremely excited and honoured to be associated with the UKTA and the brilliant work they do. With this partnership we like to think that Sproud can play a very small role in the unique and ever-changing story of the world’s most popular drink.
If you want to find out more about the UKTA please check out their website:
Written By: Alex Forbes