Tea plays an essential role in some country especially in Asia and Europe. Tea construct in their culture and social events, which we call “Tea culture” . The afternoon of United kingdom is most well-known for European tea culture because of spreading across the world.

British tea custom gives an aesthetic and emotions like being posh and gorgeous.

Tea is amazingly more than drinking.

“Tea culture” involves in many cultures and social events for a while. It defines how tea is brewed and drunk; and how people interact and appreciate tea.

       The fact shows India is the largest tea consumer in the world. Indian people drink tea approximately 6,200,000 tons every year. Next biggest tea consuming country is China, United Kingdom, and Japan.

       However, if we look at the amount of tea drank by each person, United Kingdom is a winner. Due to the Afternoon tea custom, English people are joyful to drink tea most. Each person consumes on average 1.9 kg      (4.2 lb) per year.

  • Portugal
  • England
  • Ireland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Slovakia

When was tea introduced to Europeans?    

& history of Portuguese tea culture

Europeans knew tea in 1569 for the first time. Portugal’s missionary mentioned tea in his letter to his king. In history, Portugal actively made contacts with East Asian countries such as China, Japan, India. Therefore, Portugal is the first European country to bring and produce tea to Europe.

British tea culture

Tea was introduced in England in 1662 by Catherine of Braganza of Portugal, who married CharlesⅡ of England, and then she brought tea to the Royal house of England.

In the 17th century, Portugal lost its power trading, whereas England and Holland have more power and advanced to East India.

Therefore, the Dutch East India Company started importing teas from China, and then this company has actively involved the trade between China, Japan, and Java ( island of Indonesia).

In 2000, Japan celebrated the 400th anniversary of the first contact with Holland. After that, the East India Company shipped tea to Amsterdam and spread it throughout Europe. Hence, tea was first introduced to France in 1635, Germany, and England in 1650.

We have used to hear “Afternoon tea” from any film, TV Shows, etc. 

Afternoon tea has been a belonging of British custom since 1840. By the end of the 19th century, afternoon tea became ubiquitous in all British social classes.

Afternoon tea is a light meal as a “Merienda”- a light meal in southern Europe. Therefore, they typically drink tea between 3:30 pm and 5 pm. There are various kinds of afternoon teas: the old-fashioned tea, the at-home tea, and the high tea. All of them have a few different menus depending on the place, occasion, and people. Besides, each type provides you different aesthetic.

The traditional British afternoon at the expensive London hotels served with general ingredients such as tea, biscuits, sandwiches, pastries -especially scones with jam. For the upper class, biscuits are not available on the menu.

The snack of tea meal for the upper-class usually consists of finger sandwiches: cucumber, egg, cheese, curried chicken, with shrimp canapés.

The taste of English afternoon tea (a traditional blend of teas originating from India, China, Africa, and Sri Lanka) is lighter than English breakfast tea (a conventional blend of black teas originating from Assam, Ceylon, and Kenya)

The left picture is the afternoon tea, and the right photo is the English breakfast.

For strong tea, The tea shop serves with milk, and they can optionally add one or more teaspoons of sugar if they want.

In south-western England: Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, and Somerset, Tea usually accompanies with scones on top with clotted cream and strawberry jam. It is called Devon cream tea. Some places will provide butter instead of clotted cream. Devon cream tea spread to Australia, but Australian peoples refer to it as “ Devonshire Tea” .

The picture of Devon cream tea comprises tea, scones, clotted cream, and jam.

Thus, among all European countries, England is the only country where tea took in the root of its culture due to the British royal family and nobility first drinking tea. Moreover, British people had especially believed in the majesty and aristocracy. So tea has been being developed in British society until the present.

Furthermore, the British Empire spread its interpretation of tea to its colonies like Hong Kong, India, and Pakistan.

Iris tea culture

Ireland is the second-largest amount of consuming tea per capita across the world. It got an impact from United Kingdom because of a neighboring country. The Irish tea culture is also similar to the tea culture in the United Kingdom. However, the taste of Irish tea is spicier and stronger than traditional English Blends. Irish tea brands being popular are Barry’s, Bewley’s , and Lyons.

On the other hand, French and German have famous drinks such as wine or beer. Tea could not replace. However, they have a diminutive bond with tea.

French tea culture.

France has its own culture, French coffee or Café. On the other hand, afternoon tea is a social habit for the upper-middle class. Types of tea are famous: the variety of black teas, Asian green teas, and fruit-flavored teas. French people usually drink tea in the afternoon as in England.

Generally, they serve tea with exquisite French pastries such as macarons and saint-honorés. If you plan to visit Paris city, but do not know where you should take a seat for your afternoon tea. You can take your time in “Salons de thé”, the shape of a teapot.

“Salons de thé”, tea shop with a sign of the shape of a teapot.

German tea culture

Also coffee is more popular than tea in Germany. The region of East Frisia is a coastal region in the northwest of the German federal state, Lower Saxony.

East Frisia traditional tea blends consisting of Assam tea, Ceylon, and Darjeeling are served in almost time section of the day: breakfast, mid-afternoon, and mid-evening. Furthermore, East Frisian people serve tea as a welcome drink when visitors come to their home or other meetings.

Their traditional tea portrays as land, water, and cloud in order from the bottom to the top one.

How has the traditional East Frisian tea been made?

Firstly, a Kluntje, a natural crystal rock sugar whole, was melted slowly. Secondly, melted sugar is added to the empty cup. Sugar represents as “land”. Thirdly tea is poured over the Kluntje. A heavy cream implies a “cloud”. Fourthly, tea symbolizing as “water” was added last.

How do East Frisian people drink their traditional tea?

East Frisian people serve tea without a spoon because they traditionally drink without stirring.
In the case that they would like to stir tea, they predominantly taste the cream being on the top surface first, then tasting tea, and then the sweet taste of kluntje at the bottom of the cup. After they predominantly taste all three tiers. They will stir the tea that would be blended all three components into one before they appreciate their East Frisia traditional savory tea.

Generally, East Frisia tea is served with tiny cookies during the week and with cakes whenever they have special occasions or on weekends as a special treat. The most common traditional cakes and pastries accompanied tea are apple strudel, black forest cake, and chocolate hazelnut cake.

Slovakian tea culture

In Slovakia, underground tea rooms offer a quiet environment with pleasant music. Slovakian people can take their own time to rethink things. The adorable things of underground tea rooms,
they are usually non-smoking and not similar to most pubs and cafés.

Most European countries created the word “tea” for themselves which is close pronunciation to the original word of tea in Fujian dialog because of Dutch East India Company shipping tea from the Fujian port in China.

Tea house

There are teahouses or tearooms in many countries across the world. They are an establishment that primarily serves tea and other light refreshments. The tea room may be a room set aside in a hotel either serving afternoon tea or cream teas. The function and aesthetic of a tearoom may diverge according to the country and culture. The benefit of tea houses, they can enhance social interaction, like coffeehouses.

British Tea house

The first public tearooms were occurred by a female manager of London Aerated Bread Company; then it thrived many chains later. Tea rooms rose the opportunities for women in the Victorian era.

Nowadays, In the United Kingdom, a tea room is a small room or restaurant where beverages and light meals are served. Tea rooms often have a sedate atmosphere. There is a long tradition of tea rooms within London hotels, for example, at Brown’s Hotel at 33 Albemarle Street, which has been serving tea in its tea room for over 170 years.

These are amazing stories of the tea journey in Europe. My friends and I wrote 3 episodes of tea culture. Thailand also has many tea rooms . If you want to go, and I have already provided you a recommended tearooms in Bangkok, besides my colleagues’ websites writing about the history of tea in Thailand and tea culture in Asia, you can click the links to explore the tea world.

For the tearooms in Bangkok

https://bk.asia-city.com/restaurants/news/terrific-tea-houses-are-very-serious-about-their-cha

For the history of tea in Thailand

https://mediaandsociety.org/history-of-tea-in-thailand/

For the tea culture in Asia

https://mediaandsociety.org/spill-the-tea/