4ecampbell said

Lack of tea culture in Britain?

Having recently joined (and am loving) steepster, i have found it to be a suitable forum for me to ask the question; Is there a lack of tea culture around the world? I pin-pointed Britain in particular as i am in Scotland and am sufferring from a lack of tea lounges and even suppliers.

My deep interest in tea has shown me that America in particular, has embraced said culture and taken it a step further, and as a result, tea is loved by a large percentage of the population (mainly from cities such as San Fransisco, LA and New York), and has a huge following from people involved in the technology business.

Are the residents of other countries a little less enthusiastic over embracing tea and its benefits?

I personally feel like a lounge such as a Samovar Tea Lounge (who bring traditional tea into the current age) in places like Glasgow and Edinburgh, would find great success and would bring people like myself (whom rely on the internet to get their tea), out of the woodwork.

Please give me your views as this is a question i have often thought about.

16 Replies
fcmonroe said

I live in a small town in Florida. There’s no tea culture in this area that I’m aware of. There’s a coffee shop on every corner, but I don’t think there’s a single tea shop or tea room in our county. There are some in neighboring counties, but none really close by.

Samantha said

So do I, where are you located? There is one “tea room” around me, mostly novelty frilly things and “zinger” teas available. Eugh.

fcmonroe said

DeLand. About 15 minutes from Daytona Beach. There’s also a tatoo shop on each side of town.

I checked places, and it has a few shops listed. They never look like they’re open when I drive by, but I’ll have to give them a try and write some reviews.

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Jackie said

Come to mid-west America, aside from Chicago, you will be hard pressed to find any tea houses aside from traditional-proper english tea rooms.

It is really hard for me to find any establishment for me to visit and get a good cup of tea, I order good loose tea online and settle for the average tea selection from coffee houses.

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I think it might have something to do with America being the “Great Melting Pot” (or Salad Bowl, as I think they’ve rephrased it). We have a lot of cultures, so often when you find a Chinese-style teashop, it’s actually run by people from China. Though I’m not sure about in the UK, Americans are surrounded by and exposed to different cultures on a regular basis – you could have meals from three different countries in a single day, and think nothing of it.

Perhaps we also attach such and appreciation and interest in the tea styles of the world because we have none of our own. The greatest connection the average american has to tea is a historical revolt against Britain. Though I’m sure American’s earliest (non native) settlers had a tea culture somewhat similar to England’s, we grew as a different, more diverse people and the tea culture probably faded a lot. It’s come back as a fad, and there’s so much to embrace that we try to take it all in.

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Gander said

US has great disparity in almost everything and tea appreciation is not an exception. While in big cities you may find tea lounges and tea lovers, in most parts of America enthusiastic tea drinkers are viewed as a cult, almost. Or, there may are people who drink tea daily but only stick to limited varieties rather than seeking diversity, just like how many people stick to a single blend of morning coffee.

From my experience, Hong Kong had a lively tea drinking culture, from traditional Chinese tea houses to British afternoon tea sets at hotels, lots of people are tea drinkers and it is very easy to buy different brands and different kinds of tea.

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I think economy is a big driving force behind everything, including tea. The size or potential size of US market makes it convenient to buy a lot of things. Even in China where people always drink tea, as I’ve observed, the national drinking patterns changed a lot with the economic trends in the past a couple of decades.

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4ecampbell said

Thanks guys. Great points. I especially like JMKauftheil’s point that America is home to many different authentic cultures who are more than happy to bring their customs and traditions to other countries. This sadly is not as common in the uk as for some reason, people are not as interested in expressing their culture but rather making money from it in the form of restaraunts (usually using poor ingredients) and shops rather than authentic experiences.

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Lynxiebrat said

Oh that happens here too. people just doing the bare minimum (and sometimes charging outrageous prices!) What will often happen here is food gets sweetened (Like at Chinese restaurants and take out.) and usually taste quite unlike how it would taste in the home country, or at a rare restaurant that serves food authentically. (This being said…I do like the sweetened food, but every so often I will crave how it’s supposed to be made, tends to be more depth of flavor.)

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leafyq said

It is easy to think that the US has so much interest in any one thing. It is a large country with so many people, from so many backgrounds. When you’re observing us from afar, focusing on any one thing, it seems like we love everything so much! Most forums are going to be swarmed by us, simply because we just have so many people. That’s why even companies that are not based in the US will work to lower shipping rates to us rather than the UK for example, because they’ll get more out of it.

EDIT: Gosh, that hardly came off as coherent. I may reword that in the morning.

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Bonnie said

Hum, there are people in the UK that feel as you do…maybe the problem is that there isn’t a forum where you are being heard. Tea is also a product and if tea companies know there is a market that wants to purchase something new, there will usually be someone willing to fill the void IF THEY KNOW THERE IS A MARKET.
I write to a Scot here on Steepster who follows me under the name of Roughage.
Wow, I just noticed how old this topic is…very funny!
And no, I think there are shops with real tea all over America. You have to be willing to look. I’ve found at least 10 within 5 minutes to an hour of my home. (And I didn’t count Teavana)

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Shadowleaf said

I think it really depends on what one would like to call ‘tea culture’.

On average, the British consume the greatest amount of tea in the whole world. Surely, that would be enough to prove that the culture of drinking tea is very much alive. However, the kind of tea culture that includes tea houses and tea lounges, afternoon tea and high tea, which is what I assume you refer to as ‘tea culture’, have all fallen sharply and been in decline since the tea bag became more commonly used after World War II. At least, that is my impression.

If you on the other hand refer to tea culture as a great number of different teas from the whole world being available at local vendors, and worry Britain is lacking just this, then fear not. Most countries will stick to their own tea culture/habits. The Japanese have loads of different Japanese teas in their supermarkets, but not much Indian and Chinese teas. I assume the same kind of behaviour goes for both India and China as well.

(Wow. Did we just bump a 3 year old thread?)

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