History of tea in the UK Google Doodle: Why you've been brewing your cups of tea all wrong

60.2 billion cups are consumed each year in Britain, but a survey reveals that 80 per cent of us have been doing it wrong

Harry Cockburn
Friday 23 September 2016 11:37 BST
Oh dear. Britons are not patient enough to make tea properly, scientists say
Oh dear. Britons are not patient enough to make tea properly, scientists say

A Google Doodle is celebrating Britain’s 358-year love affair with tea – the hot drink that has become a defining part of our international identity.

But despite having had over three centuries to master the process of brewing tea, there apparently remain a significant number of people in Britain who are making it “wrong”.

According to tea experts at University College London, a “worrying majority” of the cups of tea we consume may have been prepared incorrectly or inadequately.

A study carried out by the British Science Association revealed the alarming information.

As part of this year’s British science week, they asked over 1,000 adults about their tea-making habits and found that Britons were failing to brew their tea for the required amount of time, which they claim is up to five minutes.

An average of 60.2 billion cups per year are consumed every year in Britain, but the survey revealed that as many as 80 per cent of us have been doing it all wrong.

Mark Miodownik, Professor of Materials and Society at University College London, said: “This may be controversial, but the British do not understand how to make tea! Or at least they’re not doing it properly. And it’s because they don’t understand the variables.”

He blamed impatience for our inability to allow tea leaves to properly infuse.

“Expediency is causing us to throw chemistry out of the window,” he said. “We’re not allowing our tea to brew for long enough to release the flavours properly.”

Could this be the reason why our national beverage has seen a steady decline in popularity in recent decades?

According to data published by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) published earlier this year, since 1974, weekly tea purchases have crashed by almost two thirds, from 68 grams per household per week, to just 25 grams.

This equates to roughly eight cups of tea per household a week, down from 23 a week in the 1970s.

In 2015 the British Standards Institution released a guide called “preparation of a liquor of tea for use in sensory tests”, which contained everything you need to know about making the perfect cup of tea.

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