“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.
(Yorkshire and PG Tips came in second and third respectively)
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).
~Learn about the health and lifestyle benefits of drinking tea in this detailed post which includes a list and links to my favorite teas – Why Not . . . Drink Tea?
63 thoughts on “18 Ways to Enjoy a Good Cuppa”
I really need to keep the tea as a way of everyday life. Thanks for the sweet reminder. ❤️
My pleasure! Thank you for stopping by Christie. ?
I live for my thrice (or more) daily cuppa! I’m Canadian from good solid British stock & “a cuppa” is standard usage here. But I have to gently correct you on a technicality, Shannon, sorry: Edith Ngaio Marsh was born in New Zealand in 1895 & her first novel (“A Man Lay Dead”) was published in 1934, so it’s possible that hers WAS that first published reference to “cuppa” you mention. I grew up devouring her novels. I much prefer her to Christie — she was a better writer & her plotting & main character, detective Roderick Alleyn, stand up to anything Christie did. [Although to be fair, I find Christie’s novels make great movies & TV series. We’re watching “The ABC Murders” now, in fact, with John Malkovitch, who is certainly no David Suchet & plays Poirot as you’d expect John Malkovitch to play him: much more Malkovitch than Poirot, unfortunately. Sorry, I got sidertracked . . . . ] Great kickoff to Brit Week, by the way!
Thank you very much Susanne. I will make this correction. 1934 would be right then! 🙂
That’s it, you have (once again) inspired me to become a tea enthusiast, rather than an occasional imbiber. Plus think of all the lovely cups and sauces I get to collect! Off to revisit your “Why Not…Drink Tea?” post and the pilot episode of TSLL Kitchen!
…saucers of course 😀
Thank you for stopping by Rona. Happy to help! Some of the best cups and saucers I have found have been at secondhand shops. It is a fun treasure hunt to embark on. Have fun. ?
Shannon, if you ever get the chance, you would love a visit to my neck of the woods, Niagara On The Lake in Ontario, Canada! Our Bristish roots run deep as does those of my own family! The Prince of Wales hotel serves a fabulous “high tea” and the entire town is steeped in history (pun intended!). I love a good cuppa or three myself everyday and today you have inspired me to bake up a batch of blueberry cream scones!
Thank you very much for sharing Maureen. Your neck of the woods sounds like a lovely place to visit. I appreciate your comment.
I love tea. After my morning coffee you can usually find me
With a cup of tea. At home I always make it in a beautiful pot and use a beautiful cup and saucer. It is such a simple pleasure and it brings me so much happiness.
Thank you for sharing Sasha. ?
You have inspired me to get out my tea cups and saucers, Shannon.
My grandmother was from England and whenever I would visit, she would make us tea. She was a true eccentric, and I miss her very much. This week is sentimental and fun!
Thank you, again.
What lovely memories, and the ritual of tea, while so simple is truly comforting and helps us to relax and just be. Thank you for sharing. Jennifer. 🙂
I love this post! As a regular tea-drinker, you spoke to my heart! Enjoying this post with a cuppa Fortnum & Mason Earl Grey and a homemade strawberry scone. Cheers, Shannon!
Sounds absolutely delightful and scrumptious! Thank you for sharing. ?
A friend presented to me a darling tea cup and matching saucer (will show it off when I enter my Instagram photo) and I could not be more thrilled and pleased with her thoughtfulness.
I cannot wait to see it Diana. ????
My father instilled the love of tea in me! His philosophy was as soon as you are old enough to hold a tea cup, you start drinking tea! I drink milk and sugar earl grey in the morning and afternoon then in the evening I drink a peppermint/vanilla green tea from trader joes (with a truffle…) He drank tea all day long…I cannot imagine handling all that caffine! Tea makes me slow down and relax.
I just discovered that you can order Frères Mariage tea from Neiman Marcus and it’s currently 25% off! My favorite is Marco Polo – first had it in France and it takes me right back.
Awesome news! I know NM just filed for bankruptcy, so scoop up the discounts. 🙂 Thank you for sharing with us all.
The perfect way to start off British Week on TSLL! I plan to sit down every afternoon at 4 to enjoy a cuppa and TSLL!
Sounds lovely! Thank you for your interest! 🙂
My hubby is a good Irish Boston boy who loves tea and toast. I thought this habit odd until we went to Scotland and discovered that EVERYBODY there has that as a snack. I recently bought him a cobalt blue Betty as a surprise and he absolutely adores it. She is very jaunty indeed!
I’m British, and tea and toast is so much more than a snack. Really buttery toast is easy on the stomach and hot milky sugary tea gives you energy and calms you down.
It’s what your mum, dad or nanna gives you when you’re getting over being sick or had a fright as a kid. It’s what your sympathetic housemate makes you to deal with a hangover. It’s what your SO makes you when you have morning sickness and can’t keep anything else down. It’s the first thing you’re given at hospital to eat when you come out of surgery.
If in a real emergency the police have to look after you (e.g. a family member is missing) they make you tea and toast either in your own house or down the station. The fire service even give you tea and toast if you’re in shock at some incidents. The best thing i’ve ever eaten was the tea and toast a midwife magicked out of nowhere after I gave birth last year.
Tea and toast what someone makes you when you really need looking after. It’s more than food, it’s an act of love and comfort!
Thank you Jo for sharing these lovely details. ?
As a student nurse on the wards in Edinburgh in the 1980s, one of our tasks was the tea and toast trolley rounds in the afternoon and bedtime. Making the giant pots of tea and huge plates of buttered toast was a lovely routine and moment to spend with the patients and staff. Nowadays its the treat i give my teenage sons, whenever they are ” starving”. As Jo says, its a staple of life and a comfort at any time. Thank you for reminding me of those lovely memories.
How ironic that as I sit down in front of fire (cool, rainy, windy day here in Wisconsin) ready to enjoy your blog…that it is about tea…and I am waiting for my herbal tea to steep. I don’t enjoy black tea, but do love an herbal infusion. I tend to have tea in the evening…and a latte with oat milk between 3-4 o’clock. I adore the soothing ritual of making tea…choosing just the right variety to suit my mood and mug to enjoy it in. Hope you had a wonderful weekend, and enjoy the week ahead. Very much looking forward to the British week! Thank you! ?
That’s an odd time my post is noted at…it’s 7:06 p.m. here…not 2:05 a.m.! ?
Jeannine, thank you for settling in with the blog with a hot cup of tea. Your afternoon sounds lovely. 🙂
On my first trip to England, 1969, I traveled alone and discovered the Lyon Tea shops where I had my first cuppa. I’ve been a fan ever since. Thank you for your Anglophile and Francophile posts. They’re wonderful, as are all your posts.
Thank you for sharing with us all Marge. And thank you for stopping by. It is truly my pleasure. I absolutely love bring these themed weeks to readers. 🙂
As an Oregonian who once lived in Portland, you’ve probably already tried Jasmine Pearl’s teas, but just in case you haven’t, do check them out. Their teas are wonderful! Thanks in advance for a fun week of Anglophile-mania–cheers!
Thank you for the reminder. I may have long ago, but will be sure to check them out again. 🙂
So excited for this week! What a fun kick-off.
As a Phoenician (we hit 106* at the beginning of May), iced tea is my go-to, however, I still do enjoy a good cuppa almost daily. Preparing tea feels so much like taking good care of myself. I just love the dishes, the tea… the entire ritual.
Sherala, Iced tea would definitely make sense in Phoenix. 🙂 I could not agree more. Part of the joy of enjoying a good cuppa is the ritual. 🙂
Shannon, as a fellow high school English teacher, I’m very curious about your workday tea routine! I also have all the materials for a cuppa in my classroom, but I haven’t yet mastered the timing to enjoy the 2-3 midday cups I would love to make habit. This is a lovely post! Thanks for sharing 🙂
We learned to drink loads of tea when, as children, we “decamped” to a former English stronghold – Khartoum, Sudan! Our arrival was a short four years into independence and there were plenty of English Colonials still resident and their children were our playmates. My youngest sister went to the Anglican church preschool and we all participated in the annual Fancy Dress parade. Lots of tea parties! A wonderful influence still on our lives. Twenty years later found another sister and me in England on our own, and we had Afternoon Tea at the Savoy twice in our visit. She still talks about the tea shop Upper Crust in Belgravia which served whole-wheat scones to order! Patience is still a required ingredient for the perfect cuppa.
Janet, Thank you very much for sharing your experience and these lovely memories. 🙂
I wonder if Brits are more likely to use loose tea or tea bags? Anyone know? Great post by the way and I’m enjoying mint tea at the moment!
Michel, while researching for this post, I saw it reported both ways. However, I too would love to hear from our TSLL Britons. 🙂
It depends really.
Most teabags are the lowest quality tea that have been ground up into dust. They are designed to give you a strong drinkable tea within 30 seconds of hot water making contact. Everyone has teabags because their perfect for on the go. I wouldnt drink this tea without at least a bit of milk though because its more bitter.
Tea leaves take longer to steep but taste nicer so are more likely to be drunk by green tea drinkers, hobbyists or at afternoon tea. It’s more of a treat and an indicator of a classy shin-dig!
Some people are also turning back to loose leaf because some teabags (usually the cheapest kind) have microplastics in them. Hope that helps with the question
This was very insightful. Thank you Jo.
Almost always teabags and loose tea is usually for “special occasions” or relaxed afternoons. At least thats how it is in scotland generally nowadays.
Shannon, after you featured the Brown Betty teapot on an earlier blog I purchased the blue one for my daughter-in-law’s birthday. She adores it! Now maybe I will have a chance to win one for myself! I been a tea drinker my entire life. My two favorites are Twining’s oolong and Harley and Sons tropical green tea. So looking forward to this week!
P.S. A British friend of mine says loose tea is the way to go.
Hildred, thank you for helping answer the question of what Brits prefer regarding loose or bag. 🙂
A lovely post, as I enjoy my lovely morning tea. I have a preference for Twinings and Fortnum & Mason teas, and tea & toast (with butter and jam) is a favourite treat for me, as one of your other readers comments.
I usually brew just my single cup at a time in my tea mug, so I have a question about using the beautiful teapots – as you likely brew enough for multiple cups in a teapot, how do you keep them warm until you consume the next cup? Must you reheat in the microwave, or do you consume them fast enough that it is still warm in the teapot? I would appreciate your insights!
Hi Shannon! I had the great fortune to live in the UK for almost two years. Believe it or not, I had received a Watson Fellowship to study the folk and traditional dances of the British Isles. Fabulous, right?! Anyway, another common “tea time” is Elevenses. It is a late morning tea time used as a pick me up (and a snack time…often buttered toast) before lunch. In the work setting, it often becomes time for a common break where folks gather for tea and a chat. When I first arrived, I was living in a group home in Wales and was suffering from home sickness. The group home staff would gather for Elevenses and started asking me to join them. It was such a comfort. It is also very common for people to make tea immediately upon entering home after being out….right after work, after a shopping trip, etc. It is a way to welcome themselves home and to knock the chill off!
Interestingly, I found that coffee was more commonly offered in the homes of fOlks when I lived in Scotland. I commented on it and my Scottish friends said it could be a subtle way of rejecting of an English tradition!
I am loving your posts and British Week. It reminds me of my time there. I have decided that a trip to Wales to visit friends will be my first travel adventure post quarantine!
Jennifer, thank you very mcuhf ro introducingme to Elevenses! I love it and will gladly welcome it into my routine (maybe I already do and just didn’t know it ;)). How wonderfully funny about the coffee in Scotland and their response. 🙂 Thank you again for your comment. I know other readers will enjoy it as well.
Hello there, wonderful Shannon! I loved this post. As an Egyptian-American, tea is so intertwined with my family stories. One of my earliest memories is dipping anise biscotti into tea with milk and sugar with my mom, aunts and cousins in Cairo. The kid version of the tea with milk (we learned later) was 80% milk with just enough tea to color the milk and make us feel so grown up.
Tea is still such a ritual and an embodied meditation. When my cuppa is cold even though it’s half full, it’s a prompt for me to slow down the day.
I thought you all would love this post on the Met’s blog:
Thank you for sharing Dahlia and I am looking forward to checking out the link. ?
It makes me smile to read all your comments and to know that people far from England are discovering the joys of a ‘nice cup of tea’ as my grandmother would say. I was born in the north of England and brought up on sweet milky tea with a jam sandwich. I cannot imagine a life without a cup of tea. It’s an instinct to put the kettle on as soon as people visit, it would be considered rude not to and especially during any crisis, a cup of tea Is essential it is comforting and always part of the remedy. I have fond memories of my grandparents kitchen, grandma’s knitting needles clicking away noisily and grandad making the tea and toast. This best pot of tea is made as follows according to my old grandad: always warm the pot first with boiling water from the kettle, the water used for the tea must be boiling too otherwise it will not brew properly. Once the teapot has been filled, pop a tea cosy on the top (preferably a knitted one with a Pom Pom on top that grandma has made) and leave it to brew for a few minutes before pouring. Always use a china cup it doesn’t taste the same in any other. To keep the tea warm for a second cup, pop the tea cosy back on the pot to keep it warm, some people remove the teabags so that it doesn’t get too strong.
I enjoy all your posts Shannon and look forward to your weekly podcast, thank you.
Yes, Jane, I think you have perfectly summed up the ethos of a proper British cuppa!
I personally, being British, cannot live without my cups of tea during the day. The kettle goes on early in the morning, usually around 7 am to make the first one, the next for ‘elevenses’ at 11am, possibly again at around 1pm at lunchtime and most definitely at 4pm for afternoon tea!
If I have been out the first thing I do when I get home is put the kettle on. If visitors come round, the kettle goes on with an invite for them to have a cuppa.
I have lived in various countries in many parts of the world but I never travel without a few months supply of good British tea ( both bags and loose tea) in my suitcase. Although many countries do sell tea, I find that their brands are often not to my liking. Hence I take Yorkshire Gold Blend – super strong but very smooth. I also take my own tea bags if staying in a hotel.
Actually, I’m a bit obsessed about British tea!!!!!!!
SMG, Thank you so much for sharing this!! 🙂
Rain patters, grey skies, a lit candle, a chair with a soft cushion and table at its side, classical music, and a good book/magazine provides the ambience for a cuppa of Earl Grey tea (with a splash of cream and a spoon of sugar) in a pattern- designed china cup and saucer. Favorite accompaniments for this quiet time are Sally Lunn bread or a madeleine. Sitting by a favorite window with a view of nature makes it complete.
Now if I were in London, perhaps at the Goring Hotel or at Harrods, it would be even better!
Robin, Superb. You have painted such a lovely picture our minds. Thank you. ????
As a Brit I can say that tea is generally the only way to get through the day! I start my day with at least 2 cups of strong black tea with some milk in a massive mug. Teacups are usually saves for best or enjoyed with afternoon tea. Tetley’s teabags are my favourite too.
I stop drinking caffeinated black tea by 4pm and usually enjoy a peppermint tea after dinner and then a camomile before bed..
We tend to believe that tea can solve all of life’s problems !
Often when travelling abroad you just cant get A good English brew – most places in Europe seem to offer herbal varieties of tea rather than breakfast (black tea) .
Shannon, Enjoyed this blog post! I love taking tea with my co- workers each day and missing that since we are all working from home. I have a precious memory of afternoon tea at The Plaza Hotel with my daughters a couple of years ago! What a delight and with my favorite people! It would be such a treat to win this teapot!
Cindy, tea at the Plaza! What a wonderful memory and experience. Yes, enjoying a Cuppa with others, as everyone relaxing and takes a break, is a moment missed in our current times.
I really must begin having tea in the afternoon at work. This would be relaxing and hopefully become a daily ritual.
I have been trying to decide which electric kettle to purchase. I was looking at the ones that have adjustable temperatures, where you can set the temp according to the type of tea you are brewing. Is your electric teakettle and adjustable one, and do you think it is worth the extra money to buy one that is adjustable, or is the regular electric kettle all you really need?
Mine is not adjustable, so I cannot speak confidently on the ability to do so; however if you are particular about your tea temps, it might be a perfect purchase for your daily ritual to ensure a tea to your preference. Why not? ☺️
Our British family always calls for “one for the pot”, meaning one extra spoon of tea when making a potful!
Yep! Must not forget the pot. 🙂