british tea

British tea (and the Brit’s obsession with it) is a longstanding stereotype that does have some basis in truth. So how can you navigate the confusing world of British tea as an expat in the UK? Here’s everything you need to know about British culture and tea.

Is it true – do the British love tea?

A large part of British culture does revolve around tea – it’s true! But it’s wrong to believe all Brits love tea. More recently, coffee has become more and more popular, although it’s not as well-loved as tea. Numerous coffee shops and cafes have been popping up all over the UK over the years, and they’re a popular place to meet up with friends. Most places should serve both tea and coffee, along with other drinks and snacks.

As an expat living in the UK, you’ll eventually see how tea works its way into everyday life in the UK. Where you work may even have a “tea fund” that goes around the office to put towards teas, milk and sugar to have in the office.

What are the best British teas?

Everyone has their own personal favourite when it comes to tea, and I would recommend giving as many of them a shot as you can! You never know – you may find your own favourite British tea! The most common type of tea in the UK is black tea. Brits may drink is as is, or add a combination or sugar or milk. This is compared to other countries where common teas include green tea, herbal teas or Earl Grey. You can still find these types of tea in the UK, but the standard is black tea.

The biggest brands of tea in the UK are:

  • Yorkshire
  • Tetley
  • PG Tips
  • Typhoo
  • Twinings

Each brand has different types and flavours as well. Many of the big grocery store chains also make their own “store brand” tea, such as Co-Op and Tesco. These are pretty popular as well, even though they’re a grocery store brand.

My personal favourite is Yorkshire tea! The flavour is wonderful, even for someone who doesn’t really drink tea.

Taste testing the best British tea brands

Milk first or tea first? Tea bags or loose-leaf?

There’s a century-old debate on whether milk should be added to the mug first, or the hot tea. In reality, it really depends on your own personal preference. Many Brits will tell you the “correct” way, according to them!

There’s also a split between Brits who use regular tea bags and Brits who prefer loose-leaf tea. Again, it depends on you! Tea bags are certainly more convenient and the most common type of tea in regular offices and workplaces in the UK. However, many Brits swear by loose-leaf tea.

British tea etiquette

It’s important to respect the UK’s love of tea, even if you’re not a tea drinker yourself. However, it’s not disrespectful to turn down a cup of tea if offered. However, I would recommend having a box of tea and some sugar in your cupboard at home in case of visitors. It’s common curtsey to offer a cup of tea to friends, family or visitors so it’s helpful to always have the supplies on hand.

So next time you find yourself at a cosy cafe in the UK, try a cup of famous British tea!