Last night the second episode of Victoria Wood’s Nice Cup of Tea aired on BBC1, looking into the little plant that changed the world, or in her words, ‘the story of two leaves and a bud.’ This two parter took a closer look into our national obsession with tea and how it came to be the most popular drink in the world after water, with Brits putting away over 60 billion cups a year.
The most interesting part of the programme was the closer look into the history of this much sought after plant, and how it changed Britain. The focus was on the two oldest and most traditional tea nations, India and China, the latter being the origination of tea around 5,000 years ago, derived from just three original tea bushes ‘the mother trees.’
Moving on from the history, there’s some rather less interesting interviews with celebrities about what tea means to them, and a look into the role of tea in the wartime effort, before bringing it back to the modern day and the possible need for a ‘rebrand.’ Apparently there’s a real need to make tea appeal to young people today as it’s joys have been diminished by designer coffees, energy drinks and lack of time to sit down and enjoy a brew.
While this programme was a really interesting insight into the history of tea and the challenges facing tea drinking today, it does skim over some important factors such as the introduction and popularity of herbal, fruit and iced tea varieties, as well as the fact that tea drinking still retains a great sense of national identity and community, whether that’s within an office environment or with friends.
The programme also overlooked some of the most significant tea producing countries in the world, notably Kenya and other African nations. Kenya is the third largest producer of tea in the world and exports the bulk of its tea, with the UK as one of the major recipients. In fact, Kenyan tea makes up more than 50% of our most popular blended teas like PG Tips or Typhoo, making its exclusion from this closer look at tea in Britain a disappointing omission.
Posted by Gemma Hood