Issue of the day: Our love for tea endures 70 years after rationing ended

Queen Elizabeth famously enjoyed tea with Paddington as part of her Platinum Jubilee celebrations
Queen Elizabeth famously enjoyed tea with Paddington as part of her Platinum Jubilee celebrations

BRITS often regard it as the balm to soothe all that ails us. Now, on the 70th anniversary of tea rationing ending in the United Kingdom, the benefits of a simple cuppa are still emerging decades on.


What exactly happened 70 years ago today?

The end of tea rationing was announced. Rationing has been in force since January 1940, a few months after the start of the Second World War, but during a speech in Newcastle, the Minister of Food, Major Lloyd-George, said that for the first time in 12 years, Brits would be able to enjoy their favourite drink whenever they wished, confirming rationing and price controls on tea would be lifted almost immediately.


It was a massive moment?

It came on the heels of Britain joining the international tea trading arena, seeing tea auctions take place in London again, and also followed a prior rise in weekly tea rations to 3oz per head, so there was not a stampede, but it was a marker moment overall and came ahead of the end of rationing of foodstuffs entirely in 1954, when meat became freely available again.


Tea has always been a favourite tipple?

The UK Tea & Infusions Association say that while something like 70 million cups of coffee are drunk a day in Britain, around 100 million cuppas a day are enjoyed, working out at almost 36 billion per year.


It’s historic?

Invented in China 5,000 years ago, the first dated reference to tea in the UK featured in an advert in a London newspaper, Mercurius Politicus, in 1658, announcing that the “China Drink, called by the Chinese, Tcha" was on sale at a coffee house in the city.


Queen Victoria…

…was a huge fan of tea – the word itself occurs 7,587 times in her diary. She also introduced tea to her garden parties from the 1860s onwards and the late Queen Elizabeth II was also an ardent fan. According to former royal chef, Darren McGrady, the Queen enjoyed a boiling hot cup of Earl Grey. Just before the Platinum Jubilee, he said: "There would be small cake, anything from a mini chocolate eclair to a Queen’s cake, and large cakes too which we would call a cut of cake, where the Queen could cut a slice of cake. They were served with Earl Grey tea and that was afternoon tea for the Queen every day.” The Queen famously enjoyed tea with Paddington at Buckingham Palace as part of her Platinum Jubilee celebrations in the summer.


So what are the latest findings?

According to analysis presented at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes annual meeting in Sweden last month, researchers investigated the effects of drinking different types of tea—such as green tea, oolong tea, and black tea - on diabetes risk and found that drinking one to three cups of tea lowered type 2 diabetes risk slightly, but that drinking four or more cups of tea daily was linked to a 17 per cent lower risk.


For the tea lover in your life?

You can now snap up tea advent calendars from a wide variety on sale, including Whittard's offering featuring 94 individually wrapped tea bags - so four per day for 23 days, along with a surprise gift - for £70; or the Bird & Blend Matcha tea advent calendar which offers, behind each door, a resealable tin containing 5g of matcha, which works out at enough for around two cups, retailing at £52.