The Irish are renowned for their love of tea, which is deeply ingrained in their culture. It is a staple of social interaction, surpassing even the Irish drinking culture. Tea is consumed in large quantities, often surpassing alcohol, and is enjoyed between family and friends at all times of the day and night. The Irish are the heaviest tea drinkers per capita in the world, with an average of four to six cups per day, and many people drinking even more.
The History of Irish Tea
Irish tea culture dates back to the 1800s, when tea was imported from English merchants, and the Irish added milk to cover up the taste of the cheaper quality tea. This resulted in a stronger brew, which is still customary today. In the 1960s, Ireland’s tea companies began buying tea straight from the source, blending strong Assam tea from India with lighter Ceylon tea from Sri Lanka to create the invigorating Irish Breakfast tea that is now renowned worldwide.
The Etiquette of Irish Tea
There is a specific etiquette to drinking tea in Ireland. Ideally, the tea is brewed in a teapot that has been scalded beforehand, although making tea in separate mugs is more common. The teabags should be steeped in boiling water and served with a large drop of fresh milk. Drinking tea black is considered heresy, and some tea fanatics refuse to add sugar to their tea.
Irish tea-drinking also has cultural rules. Having tea in a household is a top priority, and running out of tea bags is a minor crisis. Making tea for everyone in the vicinity is mandatory, and it is a grave faux pas to make tea for oneself without offering it to others. Inviting someone into your home without offering them tea is considered a breach of hospitality.
The Comfort of Irish Tea
Irish tea is not just a hot drink to accompany biscuits; it is a cultural symbol of hospitality, camaraderie, and friendship. It is a great way to warm up on a rainy day and serves as a social ritual that helps break the ice during conversations. It gives hosts and guests something to do, whether it is pouring and serving or holding a mug. In short, Irish tea is a tradition that brings people together and fosters a sense of comfort and community.