Tetley Tea Academy asked Irene Gorman, Communications manager of the UK Tea & Infusions Association, why the nation is falling even more in love with this classic beverage.
“There are lots of situations where I’ve noticed that tea has become increasingly popular. For instance, people would drink coffee after a dinner party, but more and more people are now choosing to drink tea.
“There’s such a wide range now from Earl Grey to Ceylon; if you don’t like any of those, there are others you may like. People don’t say, I don’t like wine, but rather, I like red, or I like dry wine; it’s the same thing with tea.
“You wouldn’t have asked yourself a few years ago, will I like that particular blend of tea. We didn’t really have an opinion about it; it wasn’t a discussion point. But that’s all changed now.
“Tea menus are very important now and work rather like a wine menu. If someone wrote Oolong on a menu, it wouldn’t mean anything to you without the description. If you saw Sauvignon Blanc you would see that it says honey, grapes and whatever and think that sounds nice; that’s my kind of thing. Well, the same is true of a good tea menu. It tells me what’s in the blend and I like the idea of it. It also means I don’t feel embarrassed to ask about it; it’s the beginning of a conversation.
“Equally you may not like a particular way a person is making the tea. You may have your own favoured method, so you can tailor it to your taste.
“It’s very social going out for afternoon tea to a tearoom or in a hotel – they’re not at all stuffy. It’s not an elderly thing any more, it’s become a young and fun thing to do. And people like to dress up for afternoon tea because it’s an occasion. If you say to a friend let’s meet for coffee, you wouldn’t think anything of it, but if a friend says we’re going out for tea, your whole outlook is different.
“I’ve noticed more and more young women are choosing tea to drink. Young mothers have their friends round for tea now on Sunday afternoon. For baby showers they’re now having tea and pre-wedding afternoon tea is very popular.
“Also at business meetings they’re all drinking tea – lunch cuts into your day and can drag on, so more people are having meetings at 3.30pm – 4pm and you know you’ll be gone from there by 6pm.
“Now is a very good time to start up a tea room. Anyone can do. I’d advise to start small and expand. And it’s important to give the customer choice – variety of tea is of the upmost importance - and remember to ask customers how they like their tea. A good cup of tea is a matter of personal choice – not the way someone else likes it!”
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