Keep Calm and Continue Steeping: England’s Obsession with Black Tea

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There is one thing that simply cannot be missed about England; their fiery, all-consuming passion for tea. As of late it has become somewhat of a joke around Internet social media sites such as Twitter and Tumblr. To see for yourself, you really don’t need to go further than this wonderful example (you might want to click the picture to enlarge it):

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We all know China would run without tea like a car would run without oil. But where they’ve embraced the wonders of green tea, Britain has been holding firmly onto black varieties. This trend has a definite cause, too.

First we need to know a little bit about the two tea varieties. The first, green tea, is far less processed and oxidised. That is to say, it’s technically a lot fresher. Because tea is in such abundance within China, consuming it in this form was never really the problem; for importing, however, a small issue became a big one very fast. Because green tea had gone through less oxidation, it was far less able to survive long journeys than the fully-oxidised black tea was.

Seeing that Britain was still interested in its tea, China originally exported black tea, which could survive the long, harsh journey all the way to Britain. Affairs remained that way for centuries; it wasn’t until high speed trains came into the picture that green tea could be transported with assurance that it would get to its destination at good quality.

But by that time, it was already too late. Britain was addicted to black tea, and no one wanted to try what China considered to be some of its greatest varieties.

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