Research: Many Brits Have a Good Grasp of Tea Knowledge, Per 2023 Survey and Report

Most Brits are quite knowledgeable about their tea facts, according to a May 2023 tea census study and report (see footnote) called “From Plant to Cup: There's More to a Cup of Tea Than Meets the Eye.” 

The new research is from the UK Tea & Infusions Association (UKTIA).

Per the UKTIA, nearly seven in 10 Brits know that tea is made from the leaves of the tea plant, and most can name several tea-producing countries.

More than six in 10 in the U.K. appreciate that tea leaves must go through drying, rolling and various processing techniques before ending up in a cup. In addition, a "brainy" half correctly said that tea is tested for quality throughout its production.

But when it comes to certain facts, Britain's army of tea drinkers needs to go back to the classroom, per UKTIA.

Chief Executive of UKTIA, Dr. Sharon Hall, noted: “As a nation of tea lovers, we know plenty of stuff about tea, such as where it comes from, how it's made and the benefits it brings to our day. But, we are still barking up the wrong ‘tea’ on key facts such as the differences between green and black teas. More than half [55 percent] of the nation claim wrongly they come from different plants and four in 10 [43 percent] believe green tea is picked in summer while black tea is picked in winter. A third [32 percent] reckon green tea is only made in Japan, while a similar group [33 percent] think that green tea looks that way because it contains a coloring.”

Hall said that even though most people in the U.K. are “on the ball” about their tea brew, a minority still think that regular black tea is made from fruit, vegetables, fungus, bark or roots, or even that it comes from a laboratory – “which is all nonsense,” she said.

The recent UKTIA report also evaluated – in detail – the care taken at each step of the process from tea plant to tea pot.

Factoids from the recent U.K. tea report include:

  • The U.K.’s love of tea started when Charles II married Portuguese princess and tea lover, Catherine of Braganza.
  • The first shipment of tea from China arrived in 1664 to quench the thirst of wealthy Londoners.
  • Today, the U.K. imports around 100,000 metric tons of tea each year to provide for the one hundred million cups a day that Brits drink.
  • Tea is grown in more than 60 countries around the world; some is even grown in the U.K. and on the Channel Island of Jersey.
  • It can take 15 years to get from tea plant seedling to actually harvesting the leaves for a cup of tea.
  • Huge driers – a bit like hairdryers inside tunnels – are used to get the moisture content of tea leaves down to three to four percent. This is crucial for keeping tea fresh in kitchen cupboards.

The Humble Leaf – More Than Meets the Eye

Hall said that many take tea for granted, but “there really is an amazing back story to how this humble leaf ends up in our teabags or tea pots.”

According to Hall and research from the UKTIA, the type of tea enjoyed most in the U.K. is strong and robust, typically drunk with milk and brewed using a teabag. “To create this flavor profile, tea leaves have to be cut more finely using something resembling a mincing machine called a CTC – cut, tear, curl," she explained."

Tea tasting is also vital to produce the 'British taste,’” Hall shared. “Just like for wine, the expert tea tasters will slurp the brew to bring in air, swish it around the mouth, and spit it out to evaluate the flavor. It's a very strict process.”

Hall pointed out that there are agreed standards on tasting methods, terminology and even the crockery used to make the brew, to ensure everyone around the world is assessing quality the same way.

"As our report shows, tea production is a highly complex process but, thankfully, all we need to do is stick on the kettle, boiling just the water you need, grab a teabag, pour the water and sit back to enjoy a lovely, warming cuppa,” Hall said.

How to Make a Perfect Brew

Want to know what makes the best brew? UKTIA's Hall put together a few simple steps to help ensure the best brew:

  • Use a good quality teabag or loose-leaf tea and store your tea in a cool, dry place.
  • Avoid storing tea next to strongly flavored or perfumed foods.
  • Always use freshly drawn water and consider using a water filter. Hall said: “In some parts of the country, the tap water is hard or soft, and this can affect the taste of the tea."
  • Use one teabag or one rounded teaspoon of loose tea for each cup or mug.
  • Smart boil. Using your mug, measure out just the water you need for one or two cups and only boil that. Hall said, "This will help save on energy costs and will ensure a good flavor tea, which develops best when made with freshly boiled water. The lack of oxygen bubbles in re-boiled water can give the tea a flat taste.”
  • Allow the tea to brew for the recommended time before pouring. Always read the instructions on the pack and, if you're brewing tea from a bag in a mug, adding milk last is best.
  • Most black teas should be brewed for three to four minutes, while Lapsang Souchong black tea tastes best after four to five minutes. Brew green tea for three to four minutes and oolong tea for three to five minutes, depending on your strength preference.
  • Remove the bag after brewing, before adding the milk.
  • Put your feet up, relax and enjoy!

To learn more about the UK Tea & Infusions Association, visit

Footnote: Independent poll of 1011 U.K.-based adults, Spring 2023.

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