American Tea versus English Tea: A Contrast of Culture?

Posted: 12/10/2014
One can hardly think of Great Britain and not have tea come to mind. With a high popularity in the United States today as well, one might wonder:

Have the English and Americans always shared in their love for the world’s most popular beverage? To answer this question, we need to look back at the beginning of tea in America.Originally imported by early Dutch settlers, tea first landed on American soil in the 17th century. At that time, tea was wildly popular with all classes of immigrants. From the farm to the city, the poor and rich alike sipped and savored tea. Most tea was imported through Great Britain and the large population of early English immigrants passed their tea drinking customs to the colonists. By the 1700s, those living in America and Great Britain shared very similar tea culture.The American Revolution was a turning point in American tea culture. When the British parliament raised the import tax on tea, early Americans were understandably outraged. The Boston Tea Party of 1773 ensued when protesters boarded English ships carrying tea and dumped the entire shipment into Boston Harbor. All the wasted tea, and the war that followed, created a chasm between the two tea cultures. While tea drinking in England always remained popular, the drinking of tea in the United States came to a crashing halt and was even considered unpatriotic and Un-American for a time!Thankfully, with the passing of more than two centuries and the mending of the American and British relationship, the popularity of tea in the United States is once again on the rise and both cultures share in a love for tea with some similarities in tea culture.While the English are more inclined to make tea a classy affair, both countries regularly steep a simple cuppa using a tea bag (an American invention) for day-to-day enjoyment. In both the U.S. and Great Britain, premium black tea is the most popular choice. It is common for Brits and Americans to augment tea with a splash of milk and a sweetener of some sort. And, of course, we all take joy in sharing our tea times with friends and loved ones.Although there is a similar love for tea, some differences remain in tea drinking techniques. The consumption of iced tea is much greater in the States than in Great Britain; In fact, 80% of the tea consumed in America is served over ice. Also, sweet tea that is ever so popular in the southern states is a treat that the English have never adapted. In recent years, Americans have become more adventurous tea drinkers and are not afraid to stray from black tea to try the more exotic blends like oolong and rooibos.Thankfully, both Great Britain and the United States have come a long way since the war that divided us as countries and our love of tea. At The Republic of Tea, we rejoice in our shared appreciation of tea, as well as delight in the charming differences that have developed over time.

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