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“If the day is a sentence, tea for me is the punctuation.” —Andy Callaghan
Just saying the informal word of cuppa brings an upturn to the corners of my mouth. Understood to mean “a cup of tea”, the phrase originated in Britain and always refers to tea, not coffee (unless someone directly states a cuppa Joe ;)).
Hinting at comfort, warmth and a deep breath of reassurance and good ol’ gumption to persevere, enjoying a cuppa is to enjoy the everyday all the more.
While there there is some debate on when the word cuppa came about (Merriam Webster’s claims 1934, and (thank you TSLL reader Susanne for teaching me!) by a New Zealand novelist’s mystery titled A Man Lay Dead by Edith Ngaio Marsh in which cuppa was used inferring a cup of tea). Whenever it came to be, it has remained and with good reason.
Tea is the oldest beverage in the world to be enjoyed, only second to water, and is enjoyed the world-round. Americans haven’t quite caught on to the daily ritual of enjoying a warm cup of tea as while we drink 1.42 million pounds of tea a day (reported by the United States Tea Association in 2010), 85% of the consumption is iced tea which is not what the British are referring to when they seek out their cuppa.
An interesting idea to ponder, as one writer asserts, the primary reason Americans may not have been quick to adopt hot tea is because it runs counter to our culture habit of hustling, not sitting still and trying to not waste a minute, “Its inherent slowness, its tendency to gather people, its relative subtlety — stand in opposition to the American patterns of consumption that have allowed coffee to thrive, and historically acted as impediments to tea gaining a greater cultural foothold.” However, I have a strong inkling that this cannot be said for the Americans who are a part of TSLL community as I know many of you savor your cuppa on a regular basis, just as I myself do.
As I shared in the pilot episode of The Simply Luxurious Kitchen, my first memory of being introduced to tea was when I traveled to Victoria, Canada, with my mother well before I began the blog, in my twenties, and enjoyed High Tea at Victoria Hotel. Never looking back, tea became my hot drink of choice and my frequent multi-cup per day choice. To enjoy tea in such a celebratory and grand occasion, complete with a triple tier cake stand full of afternoon tea sandwiches, biscuits and cakes, served by dapper and welcoming waitstaff is to enjoy a taste of this British mainstay – tea.
On average, the British enjoy 165 million cups of tea a day (as reported in 2017) or approximately 60 billion cups of tea a year. And as you will see below, there are many ways to enjoy one’s tea, but there are also ways not to enjoy one’s tea if is to be best savored.
“But indeed I would rather have nothing but tea.” —Jane Austen
Let’s take a look at 18 wonderful ways to savor a cuppa, perhaps reading this list while sipping your favorite varietal should be the first item on the list. 😉 And do feel free to add on to the list in the comments, how do you best enjoy your own cuppa?
1.To begin the day, a single-origin black tea perhaps?
2. At 4pm, the historically designated time for afternoon tea
Anna, the Duchess of Bedford (1788 – 1861), first began enjoying her tea, with scones, at 4pm. Now long after she began, 4pm soon became known as the English tradition of Afternoon Tea Time.
3. As Builder’s Tea, which consists of milk and often sugar
While it is often that Britons will enjoy milk or cream and/or sugar in their tea, some enjoy it straight (without adding anything), but this is more unusual.
4. Poured from a teapot into a favorite teacup and saucer.
Many Brits will have the classic teapot, their Brown Betty made by Cauldon Ceramics (now also available in cobalt as well as the traditional brown hue). Inexpensive, and made to last, but most importantly Brown Bettys pour without dribbling.
Be sure to visit this post to enter the giveaway for your own Brown Betty teapot, the first giveaway of this year’s TSLL’s 2nd Annual British Week.
5. During times of crises
There is nothing better in the moment of high stress or uncertainty or loss or pain then to slow down and catch one’s breath with a cuppa.
6. During times of celebration
7. Paired with your favorite biscuit (a cookie that is less sweet than the traditional cookie, often a digestive)
8. Made from Twinings, the top tea of choice in Britain for everyday tea consumption.
9. Whilst having a simple tea party
No need to get too fancy, as the necessary essentials will make it fancy enough – take out your best cups and sauers, cutlery and teapots, and do not forget the scones.
~View last year’s British Week recipes for ideas on food for your afternoon tea party (see below), and look for new recipes to be shared later this week.
10. With Scones – always scones
Two of my favorite recipes are Blueberry Cream Scones and Maple Scones, and be sure to stay tuned as later this week I will share one more scone recipe.
11. Or with cake.
12. With someone or many someones or a handful of someones.
The British are well habituated to ask and remember how people in their lives take their tea. If you are enjoying a cuppa, and others are sharing the room with you, always asking if they would like a cuppa is good form and practice.
13. Often, throughout the day.
Brits on average enjoy 3-5 cups a day and Americans 2-3 cups a day.
14. Whilst taking a break at work
15. Using an electric tea kettle to bring the water to boil.
The super majority of Brits heat their water for tea in an electric tea kettle rather than on the stovetop. Breville is my brand of choice when it comes to electric tea kettles, as I have one in my classroom and have been using it for now five years and counting.
16. Only with fresh water
Discover how this is crucial for the best cup fo tea, watch the pilot video.
17. To welcome guests into your home.
18. To wind down the day, often choosing a de-caffeinated varietal – a fruit-blend or herbal tea.
A hot cup of tea is a staple in my everyday routine. I will pack my favorite varietal teabags with me into my carry-on and luggage when I know I will be away from home, tuck a few teabags into my handbag to enjoy at a restaurant or cafe if I know that tea is not their specialty, and I always have oodles of my favorite black tea stocked in my classroom as I enjoy about two cups each day while at work.
While Americans may be coming around to enjoying a regular cuppa, I know that many readers like yourself, no matter where you call home in the world, enjoy the simple, yet powerful gifts of sitting down to enjoy a cuppa whether alone to unwind or with others to catch up and come together. Perhaps it is by example that will reveal to others who have not found the pleasures of tea to be the best tool, as it was when the Duchess of Bedford began to savor the combination of tea and scones at 4pm each day. Pleasure, a simple pleasure, but one to help us find a lovely rhythm in our everydays.
Cheers and may we enjoy many scrumptious cuppas in the coming days, this annual British Week and well beyond.
As a way to begin TSLL’s annual week of celebrating all things British, I would like to invite you to share a captured moment of your own enjoyment of a cuppa and share on Instagram. In doing so you will automatically be entered into the first giveaway of the week (this can be your second entry and increase your chances of winning). Simply tag @thesimplyluxuriouslife, and include in your caption “Sitting down to enjoy a cuppa and looking forward to TSLL’s Annual British Week #tsllbritishweek !”, and I will be sure to share on my IG stories as we enjoy this year’s annual British Week. You are welcome to copy verbatim what I have quoted above or write your own text with the necessary tags (the tags will make sure I see your post and enter you into the giveaway).