As we lead busier and busier lives, are fewer and fewer of us taking time to make a pot of tea? According to the UK Tea Council, in the early 1960s teabags were 3% of the British tea market and by 2007 they accounted for 96% of the tea sales. Teabags were promoted in the 1950s as a convenient way to make a cup of tea, eradicating the messy business of tea leaves. Has this desire for convenience now led to a situation where most of the cups of tea drunk have been made by putting a teabag in a mug?
Leaving aside the taste discussion, as this is entirely personal preference, the increase in the use of teabags is not, on it’s own, evidence that we are no longer making tea in a pot but it does suggest that we are drawn to ways of making our lives simpler and the removal of the teapot from the tea making ceremony would indeed simplify the process.
The making of tea has always been ceremonial and ritualistic; from the Japanese Tea Ceremonies to elegant ladies’ tea parties in 17th century Britain, these events were about more than just the drinking of the tea itself. Have we now sacrificed ceremony for convenience therefore diminishing the role of the teapot?
Maybe as we are busier and looking for convenience, the rituals and ceremonies in tea making will only occur when we bring the teapot out for a special occasion or on a Sunday morning when we’re less harried and can take our time to savour the ritual. However in this 24/7 world making more of an effort to get the teapot out would give us a chance to pause and slow down as we enjoy making our pot of tea, an art that cannot be rushed. Whatever happens the rituals surrounding the making of tea will evolve as they have done over the centuries and hopefully still remain special to many of us.