I loved hot tea when I was a kid. Loaded up with sugar and in a teacup with a saucer? Yeah, that was the ultimate. I wasn’t exactly a tea connoisseur but I did like the Red Rose tea the best, I mean after all how many other teas come with a prize in them?
As an old adult I mainly drank iced tea. I thought of hot tea as something that was used as a cold/flu soother. Then I moved to the UK.
Brits are absolutely nuts over tea. The first thing that NEEDS to happen if you go to visit someone or they come to visit you, is that tea (often referred to as a “cuppa”) must be at least offered. No really, it has to happen or basically no matter the business of the visit, if the tea was not offered then the business can not commence. If you refused the tea the host generally makes themselves one anyway. If someone isn’t drinking during the visit then the whole visit is uncomfortable for everyone.
As an American I found this strange custom a little annoying at first. I mean sure, offer your guests a drink but why is it always tea? And why can’t we talk while the water is boiling or why the tea is steeping? Oh no, no no no! You must have the tea or we simply have nothing to say to each other! After a while I just gave in and accepted or offered the tea like I was expected to do. I waited till the tea was handed out before trying to have a conversation with anyone and I began to call everything a biscuit or a pudding.
I don’t think I ever saw iced tea served in a restaurant or in anyones home that I visited. When iced tea is mentioned most Brits I know make a disgusted face… sometimes with an accompanying sound of disgust, sometimes just the face. I’m often told that it is the British weather that has always discouraged Brits to drink iced tea.
Personally love iced tea, I did/do drink it by the gallon regardless of the weather but I found that after a very short time living in Britain I was drinking about 1000% more hot tea. I tried loads of different brands of teas, I drank Tetley for a while but PG Tips is/was definitely my favorite British tea.
I certainly love the crap they were giving away with the special boxes of tea I bought (stuffed toy & towel to name a few) but I was drinking PG Tips before the sock monkey started pushing it.
Once I returned to the US I wanted to continue to drink PG Tips and so did my husband. When we saw the price for the “Fancy British Imported Tea” we both decided to find an American tea brand we could live with. We tried lots of brands and we didn’t really care for any of them. I personally like Constant Comment a lot but I find it a bit expensive for an everyday tea and it doesn’t make very nice iced tea. My husband doesn’t like it at all. He does like Earl Grey but has yet to find a brand he really likes (the search continues!).
One day after we’d been in California for about a month, we were browsing the tea aisle at the store and I noticed a box of Red Rose tea on the bottom shelf. It was next to the generic and store brands of tea, which made it appear to be a generic cheap tea and probably the reason why I had not noticed it before. I got all excited and started reminding my husband of the tea I told him about with the little figurines inside. Since I couldn’t remember the name and for some reason thought that this brand of tea no longer existed I hadn’t even thought to look for it.
So now, hot or cold Red Rose is our tea of choice. My husband and I both love it (though being a Brit he only drinks it hot). It still comes with those little figurines and we’ve collected half of one set and half of another. We talk about buying the other half on their website but never have gotten around to it.
So if tea manufacturers use my tea buying habits as a guideline, they will start giving away a bit of swag!