May’s visit to China recalls charm of British tea culture


British Prime Minister Theresa May made an official visit to China from Jan 31 to Feb 2 and launched an in-depth discussion with China on promoting the “golden era”, the Belt and Road Initiative and the deepening of trade cooperation.

Theresa May said in her speech Jan 31 that, “with the establishment of the global comprehensive strategic partnership towards the 21st century between China and the UK, the bilateral relationship has deepened by people-to-people and cultural exchanges between the two countries.”

In exchanges between China and the UK, British tea has become a cultural element that has to be mentioned. Tea, as the core commodity of the ancient maritime Silk Road, was once an important carrier of Sino-British trade relations, and has existed for thousands of years. Through commerce and trade that has covered more than 10,000 kilometers and 100 years, Oriental tea has officially entered every corner of Europe.The UK, however, is the European countrymost affected by tea culture.

The popularity of tea-drinking in Britain was first confined to the royal family. Later, when expensive teas were sold in certain cafés, women were initially not allowed to enter. It wasn’t until 1706 that Thomas Twining founded the world’s first dry tea and coffee shop in London, catering exclusively to fashionable women. The tea shop quickly became a favorite place for London women. Strongly promoted by those fashionable women, sipping and tasting tea gradually became popular among the upper class of Britain. In the eyes of people who love tea culture all over the world, Twinings tea has become representative of British tea.

In 1837, former British monarch Queen Victoria granted Twinings the first Royal Warrant, and designated Twinings as the imperial tea, an honor that has continued to the present. Nowadays, members of the British royal family, including Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles, very much prefer Twinings tea.The brand was also awarded the Victoria’s Medal in 1972 and 1977, becoming the first tea company to be allowed to export, thus successfully entering the world tea culture market.

The British have created their own gorgeous and unique tea-drinking style, becoming the internationally known English afternoon tea culture. Prime Minister May is also a lover of English afternoon tea.

The British upper class in the 17th century used to enjoy a hearty breakfast, simple lunch and late dinner, which made them easily get hungry in the afternoon. So gradually, afternoon tea became common among aristocratic circles. Later it was encouraged by former British monarch Queen Victoria and became one of the social activities of prominent individuals in society. The “afternoon tea” culture spread and became a symbol of “taste”, then soon developed into an afternoon tea party, which became a trend that could not be ignored.

Nowadays, more and more fashionable young people fall in love with English tea, not only to enjoy the rich fragrance of the beverage, but also to appreciate the charm of British afternoon tea culture that has continued for over 300 years.

(source from Chinadaily)

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