UK Tea and Infusions Association's Tea Census Study Reveals Trends

With 98% of Brits declaring they drink tea every day, Britain's reputation as a nation of tea drinkers is clearly standing the test of time. That's according to the results from the 2024 Tea Census Study,[1] conducted on behalf of the UK Tea & Infusions Association (UKTIA) released ahead of International Tea Day on May 21st.

"The new super survey of over 1,000 adults in Britain reveals some fascinating insights into the nation's particular preferences for their ideal brew, from habits around adding milk and sugar to some of our peculiarities when brewing up," says Dr. Sharon Hall, chief executive of the UKTIA. "For example, an interesting revelation from the data was that a third (35%) of us add milk to our green tea, which many tea connoisseurs would argue ruins the flavor, but people should have tea just how they like it!"

Indeed, many Brits are making another interesting choice when it comes to preparing their perfect brew, with a third (32%) also opting to add milk to their herbal infusions.

While it's considered far more acceptable to take milk in black tea, nearly a quarter (24%) said they drank their black tea as it comes, without any milk. Of those that did add milk, the most popular choice by far was semi-skimmed (40%), with 18% choosing skimmed, 13% opting for the full-fat variety, and just 5% preferring plant-based milk in their brew, despite the trend for plant-based diets.

Bagging a Tea Treat

There's a clear favorite format of tea that Brits use for their daily brew. "With nearly two thirds (64%) stating they need a cuppa before they can even begin to tackle the day ahead, it's no surprise that 84% pick the option of a tea bag to make their black tea, with 16% opting for loose leaf," says Dr. Sharon Hall.

Interestingly, however, the age cohort most likely to prefer loose leaf black tea was the 30-44-year-olds (27%), compared with 16% of 18-29-year-olds, 12% of 45-59-year-olds, and only one in 10 (10%) of those aged 60+.

"When it comes to other types of tea, it may also come as a surprise that the age group most likely to mainly drink loose leaf varieties were the youngest (18-29-year-old) adults," says Dr Sharon Hall, adding, "For both herbal infusions and green tea, more than a quarter (28%) of this age group said they predominantly chose loose leaf over tea bags." This compares to only 5% of the older adults.

Brew Times

The UKTIA Census Tea Study also covered the steps Brits take to make a cuppa, and it turns out that while they  are known as a nation who likes a strong builders brew, only a few are brewing tea for longer. "Only 7% said they brewed their tea for the optimal three to four minutes for most types of tea, especially black teas," says Dr. Sharon Hall, adding, "A quarter (26%) said they only left the bag or leaves in for one to two minutes while nearly a fifth (18%) brew their tea for less than a minute."

When asked which order they add the items needed for making a brew, Brits most commonly put in the tea bag first followed by water, milk, and sugar/sweetener.

"For those adding an accompaniment to their teatime, the most popular snack pairing for Brits was by far and away a sweet biscuit (48%)," says Dr Sharon Hall.

Other answers in the top five choices were:

  • A chocolate biscuit (36%)
  • Cake (32%)
  • A sandwich (24%)
  • Chocolate (18%)

Around a fifth (22%) said they preferred to enjoy their brew simply as it comes.

So, how does this compare with Dr. Sharon Hall's advice for enjoying the perfect cuppa? "The first step is really important," says Dr. Sharon Hall, continuing, "Always use a good quality tea bag or loose-leaf tea that's been stored away from any strongly scented foods that could affect the flavor.

"Boiling freshly drawn water each time also "energizes" the leaf and extracts to bring out the character of the tea. The oxygen in the water is depleted with every additional boiling, which affects the flavor. Water quality can also affect it, so it's also worth considering using a water filter. Remember that the optimal temperature for green tea is 80C while it's 90-98C for black tea, but always follow the instructions on pack if you want the perfect brew.

"Always 'Smart Boil'. Measure out the number of cups of water you need for each cup you are making, this will save time, money, and energy. Add one tea bag or one rounded teaspoon of loose leaf per cup. Bring the water to the required temperature, and brew according to the pack instructions. If you're brewing from a tea bag in a mug, add the milk last, making sure to remove the bag beforehand.

"When it comes to adding milk, green tea tends to taste better without. If you're looking for the best black teas to take minus the milk, try Darjeeling, Ceylon, or Earl Grey (brew all for three to four minutes). Assam or Kenyan work well with milk. However, like everything in life you should make your tea just how you like it. Then, sit back, relax, and enjoy with your favorite tea with a biscuit, or two."

Dr. Sharon Hall shares five top tips for making the perfect brew:

  1. Smart Boil. Use a cup or mug to measure out your water. If you are just making one cup of tea then just measure out one cup of fresh water to boil as this will save time, money and energy. Our Smart Boil[2] campaign found that Brits waste £742,000 a year boiling unnecessary amounts of water when they make a cup of tea.
  2. Choose your favorite mug or tea pot. Add one tea bag or one rounded teaspoon of loose leaf per cup, per person into your favorite mug or a china or glass tea pot. What you brew your tea in does affect the flavor of tea so always brew your tea in a mug or pot that you feel gives you the best cuppa in taste and flavor.
  3. Your tea brew needs. Add the boiled water and brew according to the pack instructions to develop the optimal flavor strength and color. Have a chat with a friend, family member or colleague while you're waiting – the best conversations happen over a cuppa!
  4. Milk in before or after? If you're brewing from a tea bag in a mug, add the milk last, making sure to remove the bag beforehand. If making tea in a tea pot, pour the brewed tea into a cup or mug and add a splash of milk if desired.
  5. Make your tea how you like it. Like everything in life, you should make your tea just how you like it. Then, sit back, relax, and enjoy with your favorite tea with a sweet or savory treat, whether that be a biscuit, cake, a sandwich, crackers or a samosa.


[1] Independent poll of 1010 UK-based adults, March 2024


Plan to Attend or Participate in World Tea Expo, March 24-26, 2025

To learn about other key developments, trends, issues, hot topics and products within the global tea community, plan to attend World Tea Expo, March 18-20, 2024 in Las Vegas, co-located with Bar & Restaurant Expo. Visit

To book your sponsorship or exhibit space at the World Tea Conference + Expo, or to inquire about advertising and sponsorship opportunities at World Tea News, contact:

Ellainy Karaboitis-Christopoulos, Business Development Manager, Questex

Phone: +1-212-895-8493; Email: [email protected]

Also, be sure to stay connected with World Tea Expo on social media for details and insights about the event. Follow us on XFacebookInstagram and LinkedIn.