Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Not for all the tea in China

China may produce the most tea in the world but they don't drink the most. That accolade apparently goes to Iraq, with the UK at number four (per capita). We like to pretend (for some reason) that we're now a nation of coffee drinkers (tea perhaps not having the cool, American, on-the-go factor that coffee has – even though coffee shops take forever to make a cup; probably the time it takes me to drink a cup of tea) what with coffee shops (bring back tea shops I say) nestled in between mobile phone shops and estate agents on every bland British high street, but we still consume a lot more tea than coffee. Tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world, after water.

My tea of preference is probably Sainsbury's Red Label, which I've been drinking steadily for at least twenty five years, though I'm really not that fussy – Tetley, PG Tips, Twinings, Clipper – any tea, really, as long as it's not Lipton's.

Lipton's is, in fact, the number one tea in China (they spend £300m a year on it), a fact I find extraordinary and tragic. Lipton's also does very well in other parts of Asia, Western Europe and the States. In fact, I've not been able to buy any tea apart from Lipton's in these places. Recently in France, using my expert French, I pleaded "Avez vous autre thé?" when presented with a cup of Lipton's in a cafe. I was met with a look of bewilderment.

The thing is: Lipton's is disgusting. It's crap. It doesn't even remotely taste like tea (perhaps that's why it's so successful in over a hundred other countries – countries which wouldn't know a good cup of tea if they fell over one). I'd rather drink Tesco's Value teabags than Lipton's. And you know what? You can't get Lipton's (black) tea in Britain (only their Ice Tea and some herbal ones). That's right. Britain, the birthplace of Lipton's (it's now owned by Unilever) and one of the biggest tea drinking nations in the world, and you can't buy a cup of Lipton's tea. Not that we would if we could, a fact Lipton's must realise, otherwise they'd sell it to us, wouldn't they?

Previously on Barnflakes:
Proud to Serve
Death of the High Street

Elsewhere on Barnflakes:
The T.E.A. Theory


Tea Girl said...

Actually, it's OK black, just about. I don't think it's meant to be partnered with milk - it's not strong enough.

Barnaby said...

Yes, but what Brit would have their tea without milk?

Tea Girl said...

It's quite nice black actually, but then I am half French, comme tu sais.

Barnaby said...