tea and biscuits


19 May 2017


New survey reveals that the British public have no clue when it comes to tea etiquette – with traditional tea time traditions now a thing of the past.

In the UK, we are celebrated for our love of the humble cup of tea however, a new national survey commissioned by SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, has found that modern day Brits are no longer clued up on the skills needed to host a ‘proper’ tea party, driving etiquette experts stir-crazy!

According to the British etiquette authority Debrett's, traditionally a cup of tea is made using tea leaves, a pot of hot water and a tea strainer. However, when questioned on how to make the perfect cuppa, almost two thirds (63 per cent) of survey respondents revealed that they have never made a cup of tea using tea leaves, only tea bags, with 10 per cent admitting they don’t even know what a tea strainer is.

In addition to this, the survey has also revealed that a whopping 95 per cent of the nation haven’t even mastered the basics of how to stir their tea. According to the etiquette experts at Debrett’s, the correct way to stir tea is in a back and forth motion from 12 o clock to 6 o clock, but only 5 per cent of tea drinkers realise this, with the majority incorrectly stirring in a circular motion.

The poll has also revealed that it’s not just the tea itself that Brits are getting confused by – it’s what to serve with it too. When asked what ‘extras’ should be offered to visitors when making them a brew, the vast majority of respondents (94 per cent) had no idea that a slice of lemon, according to Debrett's experts, is supposed to be offered in addition to milk and sugar.

The poll has also uncovered that many Brits have an issue with the pronouncation of certain tea-time favourites. When quizzed on how to pronounce the classic British ‘scone’ almost half of the population (45 per cent) stated that they would say scone – as in ‘bone’, rather than the correct pronunciation of scone – as in ‘gone’.

Adding to the unpolished nature of the British public’s teatime habits, 70 per cent of those surveyed admit to enjoying a good old biscuit dunk when sitting down with a cup of char, despite the fact that this is a real faux pas with the etiquette experts.

When quizzed on what the nation’s favourite ‘dunker’ is, perhaps unsurprisingly classics such as Digestives (18 per cent) and Rich Teas (18 per cent) topped the poll. However, what’s more surprising is that not all of the UK’s top ten preferences are biscuits, with more unusual choices including a bar of chocolate (13 per cent), piece of toast (6 per cent), and a cereal bar (4 per cent) also appearing in the top ten list.

UK’s Top Ten Tea Dunkers:

  1. Digestive (18%)
  2. Rich Tea (18%)
  3. Milk Chocolate Digestive (15%)
  4. Bar of Chocolate (14%)
  5. Hob Nob (11%)
  6. Ginger Nut (9%)
  7. Piece of Toast (6%)
  8. Cereal Bar (4%)
  9. Custard Crème (4%)
  10. Chocolate Bourbon (3%)

The survey has been commissioned by SSAFA to mark the launch of their annual fundraising campaign, the Big Brew Up. The campaign runs through June 2017 and encourages friends, colleagues, and family members to come together and host a tea party, in order to raise vital funds for members of our military community in need.

Tegan Jones, Director of Fundraising at SSAFA, commented: “It is fascinating to see how British tea culture has evolved over time. Although the results have shown we need to brush up on our tea-etiquette, it is great to know that the nation is still passionate about tea drinking.

“During the month of June, SSAFA’s Big Brew Up will be embracing this beloved pastime, by asking people across the UK to show their support for the Armed Forces community by popping the kettle on and enjoying a cuppa and a piece of cake. Every penny raised will allow SSAFA to continue to help more than 60,000 people a year, ranging from Second World War veterans to young servicemen and women wounded or killed in Afghanistan and Syria, and their families.”

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text to donate £2 by texting #BREW17£2 to 70070