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Tea versus Coffee

Rob Rob | 12:10 UK time, Thursday, 30 June 2011

Hello again. My last blog got people discussing whether the British preferred tea or coffee.

The answer is we enjoy both but there is no doubt that since the 18th Century we have been one of the biggest consumers of tea. "A nice cup of tea" really makes our day.

A nice cup of tea

Tea's popularity is a historical thing when countries like India were part of the British Empire and India is where tea is grown in large quantities, so it was easy to import. London also became the centre of international tea trade.

It's good to chat over a cup of tea or coffee

So tea became popular then and still is now. There are so many rituals associated with making and drinking it. The proper way is to make it in a pot, that's the way I like it. Just add tea leaves to a pot of boiling water, let it brew and then pour it in to a mug. Everyone likes their tea made in a certain way but for me it has to be strong - something we call 'builders tea'. I know people who like it weak, so it looks almost like a cup of brown water and no taste!

Of course these days we make tea in a rush by just putting a tea bag in to a cup and adding hot water. But the main ingredient to make a proper cup of British tea is to add milk and optional sugar.

Herbal teas have become popular. Flavours include nettle, apple, blackcurrant and camomile flavours. They don't contain caffeine and make a refreshing drink - but it's not real tea to me!

Instant coffee - not to everybody's taste!

So what about coffee? Well it's become more popular recently as the there has been a rise in the number of coffee shops opening everywhere around the UK. Coffee has more of what we call 'a kick' to it. The caffeine in it is stronger and helps make us more alert. It used to come in just instant form where you added hot water to the coffee granules - not for me!

Now you can drink cafetiere coffee, filter coffee and percolated coffee. And these days, Italian style coffee has become big business with people sipping cappuccinos and lattes with their friends. These can be made in various ways with different strengths and different types of milk. I prefer a 'double strength skinny latte. The latest style to come from Australia is a 'flat white' which is a stronger coffee.

'Posh' coffees

Anyway, whatever you prefer there seems to be a type just for you whether it's tea or coffee.

What's your favourite and why?


  • Comment number 1.

    Hello Rob!

    Thank you for the topic :), especially because I was one of those, taking part in the discussion about tea and coffee.

    I, like you, prefer tea made in a pot, but not too strong and not too weak. Maybe because of that I usually choose a mixture of black and green teas or make it by myself. At home, we put tea leaves in to a pot, add boiling water, let it brew for about 4 minutes, then pour it in to a cup and add another portion of boiling water. Honey is an excellent sugar substitute for me :).

    And in our family, sometimes, we drink tea with apple :). My mom was born in the south of Russia, and it’s the way she used to drink tea in her childhood. This is quite a simple recipe. You make your tea in the way you usually do it, and then chop an apple or just a part of it and add its small pieces to your tea. That’s it. As for me, I love slightly sour apples. But if you don’t drink tea with sugar or honey, you can add sweet apple.

    I’m not a coffee lover. But I adore its smell - sometimes, it’s so seductive that I cannot refuse a cup of coffee with little ground coffee and a lot of milk :). And as for coffee, I drink it only with sugar :).

  • Comment number 2.

    Hi Rob
    I notice one interesting thing reading books of European and Russian authors. In European countries like France, Holland or Sweden coffee was an everyday’s drink for ordinary people. In the same time (especially in 19th century) there in Russia coffee was a drink of aristocrats and wealthy people. Ordinary people preferred tea. Russian merchants had well organized trade relations with China so tea was peoples drink. Russian pronunciation of the word ‘tee’ is also connected with China. It sounds ‘chai’. Until now the most Russians (and me of course) prefer tea.
    Early in 2000th my wife had been worked in Uzbekistan and brought a tradition to have a tea with fruits. Sometimes we add pieces of apples or dried apricots in hot tea. A cup of cold green tea is also well in a hot summer day.
    Good luck
    Samara, Russia

  • Comment number 3.

    Hi Rob ! Thank you for nice topic as I 'm a teaholic ! Tea is national drink of Iran , too . I like herbal tea such a thyme , pennyroyal and cinnamon and sour cherry tea . Good to say I drink herbal tea when I have a cold . recently I try to drink green tea as it 's more healthy and natural . I haven't tried apple ( fruit ) tea ( yah sour cherry tea is an exception ...ha ha ) yet so let's to try it !
    Have a Fab sunday and bye
    Pary from Iran

  • Comment number 4.

    Hi Rob!
    I also like this topic. Because I have a dream to open a little tea-house. So I spend some time with browsing tea houses on Internet. It's very inspiring for me to see photos taken in British tea-houses. In your country everything is so elegant and specially lovely isn't it:-) I love your first picture about the table with porcelain tea set. I have a favourite tea-house in Miskolc, Hungary. It's name is Green Dragon. My favourite tea is made with cinnamon and I like fruit teas too. I also can cure my sore throat with herbal teas.
    I can't drink coffee, although I like the smell of it. The caffeine in the coffee is bad for my heart. I think tea is healthier, you can drink it before going to bed and you can sleep well.
    Have good teas!
    Virág, Hungary

  • Comment number 5.

    I like this discussion. I belong to India. To be specific, South-India. Here the home-made filter coffee is special and i like that very much.

    Varad, India.

  • Comment number 6.

    Hello Rob and everybody,
    This seemed to turn into a largely tea-dominated collection of comments until - to my surprise - a person from India spoke up for coffee. Hi, Varad, I share this preference of filter coffee with you! Coffee is generally favoured in Austria. Especially in Vienna there is a tradition of preparing many different kinds of coffee, so you can't just order "a coffee" in a Vienna café. I personally prefer a not-too-strong filter coffee with milk, but without sugar - and it has to be fair-trade coffee.

    As regards tea, I really started liking this drink when I first stayed in England - I loved it with milk and the special type of biscuits my host family would serve it with. But when I brought English tea to Austria and tried to make it here, it just wasn't the same. So for me it's tea in England (or Ireland for that matter) and coffee in Austria.

    Speaking of herbal and fruit teas, we had an interesting discussion the other day when a friend told me she had tried to order fruit tea in a restaurant in London and she simply wasn't understood. We wondered if this was because "tea" was something strictly to do with the tea plant and any other drink made by pouring hot water onto dried herbs or fruit would have to be called "infusion", as suggested by some sources. Still, the word sounds a bit "medical" to me, so I'm quite happy to see you using the word "herbal teas" - even though, admittedly, they are not real teas...

    May I just add a question of language, Rob? I noted that you avoided writing "into" in one word: "... pour it in to a mug....", "... putting a tea bag in to a cup..."
    I'd been convinced that directions and destinations would be designated by "into" or "onto", as the case may be, in one word, but I'm a little uncertain now. Is this a point where the language is changing?

    Thanks in advance for answering!
    Elisabeth from Austria

  • Comment number 7.

    Hello Elisabeth! Thank you for your comment and question for Rob!

    Yes, Rob, honestly, I wrote 'in to' only because before that I'd read your post :). Usually, I write 'into' in such cases. So, I'm curious about 'in to' and 'into' too :).

  • Comment number 8.

    Hi Rob and everyone,
    I join this topic with pleaser because I absolutely adore tea and coffee.
    In a week I’m in England for a seven-day trip and I’m eager to try genuine English tea, “a nice cup of tea” like Rob said. Also I’m interested if people really put aside their business at five o’clock? ))
    Like the UK, Russia is one of the biggest consumers of tea. Nowadays it’s becoming very popular to use tea bags. I dislike it and use it only at work when I’m in a short time. At home I drink good tea. In winter I like drinking pure Ceylon tea. I don’t dilute it with milk and don’t add sugar. In summer I prefer green tea from China, it slakes thirst very well. And every morning it doesn’t matter whether it’s winter or summer I start with a cup of strong coffee. It isn’t a healthy beverage for me but I can’t refrain from drinking it. Hi, Virag, it’s great that you can do it!
    Good luck, guys and gals
    Tatiana from Russia


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