20/04/18 | By Dominic C. James

Image of hand illustrated tea and toast

On 21st April each year, people all over Britain celebrate their love of tea on National Tea Day. Whether yours is a Rosy Lee, a cuppa or simply a brew, we Brits drink 165 million cups of tea a day. That's a lot, enough to fill Wembley Stadium 4 times over the course of a year. Despite this, the British are only the third most prolific tea drinkers, behind Turkey and Ireland.

But what is tea and where did it first originate? Officially speaking tea is an infusion of the leaves of Camellia Sinensis, an unassuming evergreen from Asia.  Tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world, second only to water.

Tea originated in Southwest China, where it was used as a medicinal drink. It was popularized as a recreational drink during the Chinese Tang dynasty, and tea drinking spread to other East Asian countries. Portuguese priests and merchants introduced it to Europe during the 16th century. During the 17th century, drinking tea became fashionable among Britons, who started large-scale production and commercialization of the plant in India to bypass the Chinese monopoly. Combined, China and India supplied 62% of the world's tea in 2016.

There are literally hundreds of varieties of tea, from those that are gently dried and cured to those that go through complex processes that can include long stays in caves, there are as many varieties of tea as you can possibly imagine! Try a few new ones on #NationalTeaDay!

How do you take your tea? By S. Y. Palmer

Ease into your day with a cup of Earl Grey
Drink Lemon and Ginger to write like a Ninja
For action scenes take a dose of Green
Have an all-night stint on a Peppermint
Infuse your leaves for just a minute
Or douse with milk and leave your bag in it
Restful or zestful, heavy or light
For early mornings or straight through the night
An Asian invention for us to adopt
We started to drink and never stopped
Our options are endless and sales soar
Sixty billion a year the British will pour
Medicinal and healing, sociable, appealing
Reflects our minds, our bodies, our feelings
Our tea is personal, part of our style
And just for the record mine’s a chamomile

Sue Palmer is author of May's Moon with her second book releasing in early 2019!

Image of Sue Palmer


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