The history behind Britain's obsession with tea

Builders in Leicester challenged students to make the 'perfect' cup of tea Photo: ITV News Central

After students from Leicester University unveiled a formula for the 'perfect' builder's tea today, after accepting a challenge from a local construction firm, here are some little-known facts about the popularity of tea in the UK:

  • The British have been drinking tea for nearly 400 years
  • The UK imports and consumes 140 thousand tonnes of tea per year
  • The UK drinks 165 million cups per day - 62 billion cups per year
  • Tea outsells coffee in the UK by two-to-one
Students from the University of Leicester have come up with a formula for the 'perfect' cup of tea Credit: ITV News Central

Tea has a 'rich' history worldwide, as these interesting facts surrounding the origin of the tea-leaf demonstrate:

  • Tea bags were invented in America in the early 1800s, and were initially used to hold samples of teas brought from India.
  • Today, 96% of all cups of tea served around the world were made using teabags.
  • After tourism, the cultivation of tea is India’s second largest industry.
  • Indian tea, is the most popular in the world, despite the fact that it originates from China.
  • There are now estimated to be about 1,500 different varieties of tea
British people are known to love a cup of tea Credit: ITV News Central

Further facts to suggest why tea is so popular, whatever the formula:

  • Tea is a natural antioxidant, rich in vitamins
  • Theanine is a stimulant found in tea leaves
  • There is less than half the amount of another stimulant, caffeine, which is found in coffee

And finally:

  • 'The Tea Party' is a political movement which calls for less state intervention in the USA.
  • 'The Tea Party' name harks back to the Boston Tea Party - which protested in the 1700s.
  • Americans destroyed cases of tea which had arrived from India as a way of rebelling against the British government.

Facts and figures courtesy of The Beverage Association and Fine Dining Lovers.