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National Tea Day 2023: Over Half Of Brits Move Away from Traditional English Breakfast

Over half of all Brits have moved away from Traditional English Breakfast Tea as their preferred blend, finds new research for National Tea Day (April 21).

With more than a quarter drinking around a cup or more an hour during an average working day  

  • 55% of Brits say they prefer a herbal or other leaf based tea blends over traditional English Breakfast tea 
  • Over a quarter (27%) drink tea purely for wellness. 87% drink tea as a source of comfort or to relax 
  • 60% of Brits start drinking tea from primary school age with 16% five years or younger  
  • Over 90% of Brits best like to pair their tea with a biscuit, cake or sandwich  

Despite the Nation’s long-standing love of English Breakfast tea, new research reveals ahead of National Tea Day on April 21st, that Brits are moving away from tradition with over half (55%) opting for a herbal like green tea or Rooibos, or other leaf-based teas like Earl Grey, as their preferred choice of blend.  

The findings, based on 2086 consumers, come just three weeks before the King’s Coronation and marks a shift away from the Traditional English Breakfast tea which has always been widely regarded as the UK’s hot favourite, accounting for 85% of sales in 2019 according to a Unilever report.  

This year’s research into Brits’ tea drinking habits by global tea specialists, The Tea Group found that 55% of the nation now prefers a herbal brew with 22% choosing a green tea such as Matcha, and 11% picking a rooibos, ginger, peppermint, chamomile or fruit tea as their blend of choice. The remaining 22% chose Earl Grey or picked ‘other’ for their tea, other than Traditional English Breakfast.  

More than half (54%) like to take their tea in the morning with milk.  A quarter like it rich and malty, and 15% prefer aromatic and herbaceous, all made directly in a mug for most people (68%) as we opt for convenience over complexity. However, one in five agreed that the traditional way to serve tea - using loose leaves, served in a china cup and poured from a teapot - still makes the perfect brew.  

Drinking a cup an hour 

And it’s not just a cuppa a day. The Tea Group found that Brits are now drinking a sizable amount with 47% of the population consuming up to five cups a day, while over a quarter (27%) drink between six to 10 cups of tea a day which is around one brew an hour during the average working day.  

Nearly half (46%) of consumers use teatime as a chance to socialise with others, 37% see it as an opportunity for some ‘me time,’ while the majority (87%) say that tea makes them feel ‘calm and relaxed’ or ‘comforted.’ In fact, over a quarter (27%) of people drink tea purely for their wellbeing with 38% drinking tea for both wellness and taste.   

And there are some traditions that Brits are sticking to, with biscuit, cake or sandwich the nation’s top three favourite foods to accompany their tea.  

Commenting on the research, Díaz Ayub, Managing Director at The Tea Group, said:

“It is wonderful to see how Brits are embracing the range of artisan tea, cold brews and herbal varieties available today. The Traditional English Breakfast Tea has been a staple part of UK culture for centuries, and remains so for 45% of the tea lovers we surveyed.

"However, our findings reveal that the future of tea is much more diverse with a new generation of tea drinkers who are moving beyond the traditional brew to embrace a mixology of teas that inspire health and happiness.”  

60% of Brits drink tea from primary school age 

The findings from The Tea Group also found that nearly two thirds (60%) start drinking tea from a primary school age. A third had their first cuppa before the age of seven, and 16% were five or below.  

Diaz continued:

“As our research shows, teatime is either ‘me time’ or an experience which brings people together to create memorable moments. It’s something to celebrate as a nation which is why we founded National Tea Day.

"Tea plays a role in so many cultures and can be enjoyed in so many ways, and we’re seeing this in the UK with more tea-lovers pairing various teas with different types of food.

"Try succulent scallops with Japanese Gyokuro tea served in a wine glass, or pistachio macaron with milky Oolong tea, or the traditional shepherd’s pie is great with an English Breakfast tea.

"It’s a drink that offers a world of opportunity for trying fresh delights and our study shows that Brits’ taste for tea is stronger than ever.”  

‘Self-Tea’ charity appeal 

As part of National Tea Day, The Tea Group, has also launched its ‘Self-Tea’ charity appeal in partnership with award winning British artist, David Arnott. The Tea Group is asking for members of the public to send in ‘selfies’ raising a cup of their favourite tea as a toast to the late Queen Elizabeth II.

The selfies will be collated in a mosaic piece, capturing iconic moments from her reign and British history. Once completed, the artwork will be auctioned, with all proceeds going to its charity partner, Great Ormond Street Hospital. To get involved, simply visit the National Tea Group Instagram page  

Tea and Food Pairing Tips from Díaz Ayub, Managing Director at The Tea Group: 

  • A rich savoury Shepherd’s pie can be perfectly paired with an English Breakfast tea. Definitely without milk, but with a hint of honey and served in a wine glass. 
  • A humble peppermint tea with a buttery shortbread biscuit for a “melt in your mouth” murray -mint like pairing. 
  • Risotto alla Milanese has a creamy texture which can be harmoniously uplifted by pairing with a complex and aromatic, malty Masala chai.  
  • Stilton cheese paired with Chinese Da Hong Pao tea. 
  • Elevate the classic cream cheese and cucumber sandwich by pairing with a humble green tea. 

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