Brits’ Love Affair With Tea May be Waning

Lust for tea may be waning (Reuters)

The long love affair with tea appears to be on the wane as Britons switch to other drinks, according to research on Wednesday. “The traditional English cuppa is fighting a real battle,” said Ellen Shiels of consumer information group Mintel. Britain’s total tea market fell by 12 percent to 623 million pounds in 2004 from 707 million pounds in 1999.

Traditional tea types, like the exotically named Lapsang Souchong, Darjeeling and Earl Grey, are being challenged by coffee and soft drinks, not to mention herbal and fruit teas. “Although young tea drinkers are drinking a wider variety of teas, they are drinking less of it,” said Shiels in a statement. Over the last two years, sales of standard tea bags fell by 16 percent.

The British addiction to the beverage dates back to the 18th century when the ritual of “taking tea” established itself as part of aristocratic life. Highly expensive at first — early tea-caddies came fitted with locks to stop the servants pinching the precious leaves — tea’s popularity boomed as prices fell.


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James Joyner
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James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. DC Loser says:

    There must be more Starbucks per square mile in Central London than anywhere else except probably Seattle.

  2. That’s a shame, it’s much better for you than pretty much any other drink.

  3. James Joyner says:

    True. I drink a lot of both coffee and tea. I’ve been fond of Arizona brand bottled teas, especially the peach and raspberry ones, of late. Their flavored green teas, especially blueberry and apple-cranberry, are also quite good.