Avid tea drinkers out there, this celebration is for you — happy International Tea Day!
Ah, tea. The comforting cuppa that us Brits can’t get enough of. In fact, we love it so much that we go through a staggering 60 billion cups each year. Its mellow, delicate flavour gives many of us a little boost, whether it’s first thing in the morning or during that mid-afternoon lull. And it’s not just in the UK that we love a brew. International Tea Day, on the 15th December, highlights the joy that this hot beverage brings to tea lovers around the world.
This holiday might not be as well known as Christmas or Easter, but we think it deserves one day of devotion each year to let us pay homage to one of our favourite brews. Grab your favourite mug, pour yourself a cuppa and nibble on a biscuit or two (we’ll be reaching for our luxury Dunking Biscuits or some Chocolate Macarons) and read on to learn more about International Tea Day.
The History of International Tea Day
Tea might have the reputation of being a characteristically British drink, but its origins actually lie in China. According to legend, tea was discovered as far back as 4000 years ago by Emperor Shen Nung when the leaves of a tree blew into a pot of boiling water made by his servants. This created an inviting aroma which Emperor Shen Nung could not resist tasting. When he discovered just how delicious it was he decided to recreate the cuppa many times after. And thus, the first cup of tea was born.
It wasn’t until the 16th century that tea made its way into Europe, however. Dutch traders saw the popularity of tea in China and so decided to make their own purchase. After the East India Company was established in England, tea became a widely-traded commodity.
International Tea Day is a slightly later invention. Trade unions started up the celebration in 2005 to celebrate the health benefits, economic significance and overall culture of tea drinking. International Tea Day also strives to ensure a more sustainable level of production by attempting to regulate safety regulations, sustainable land expansion, secure wages and equal rights.
How to celebrate International Tea Day
Now that you’ve had a little historical digestif, you’ve probably got an appetite for celebration. Here are our favourite ways to celebrate this unmissable day:
Host a tea party
Ever wanted to live out your childhood dream of throwing a tea party for you and your friends? Well, now’s the perfect chance. Tea parties should be for both adults and children alike. After all, why should the little ones have all the fun?
Setting a theme for your tea party is a great way to make it seem like more of a special occasion. Don’t be afraid to push the boundaries here. You can take inspiration from popular shows such as Downton Abbey or Peaky Blinders, or draw on historical periods such as Victorian Britain or the Roaring 20s. British pop culture is also a good theme for those who want to pay homage to the British love for tea. Why not invite your guests to dress as famous British fictional characters (think Sherlock Holmes and Mary Poppins), or revolve your theme around iconic British bands?
Keep your theme running through every aspect of your Tea Party as much as possible. Invitations, food, music, tableware and even games should incorporate some element of your theme. Just make sure you keep the tea as the star of the show. We suggest brewing a few teapots of different blends of tea to guarantee a full tea-tasting experience!
Cacao fans will be thrilled to know you can centre a fabulous tea party around chocolate. Intrigued? Take a look at our guide on how to host a chocolate-inspired Mad Hatter’s Tea Party for a delicious twist.
Enjoy afternoon tea
If you don’t quite have the time to put together a tea party then there’s always the option of hosting your own afternoon tea. Invite a few friends over to enjoy some tasty nibbles and a good, reliable pot of home-brewed tea. Traditional afternoon tea typically consists of dinky sandwiches and miniature sweet bakes. Enjoy solo or invite your guests to sample some of your home-baked goods as you have a good ol’ catch-up.
If you’re planning on baking, we suggest preparing your sweet treats a day in advance to ensure your afternoon tea is stress-free (remember, it’s a treat for you as well as your guests!) Our Hazelnut & pecan brownies are always a crowd-pleaser, and our Chocolate Praline Strawberry Tart is an indulgent, unique addition to any table.
Whilst it can be fun to throw your own afternoon tea, it’s sometimes nice to have someone else do the work for you. We offer our very own Afternoon Tea of the Gods, incorporating moreish notes of cocoa into every item for an afternoon of decadence. We think a chocolate afternoon tea is a perfect way to catch up with loved ones.
Try some new tea blends
It’s easy to fall into the same habit when it comes to brewing your cuppa. English Breakfast tea is a classic, of course, but why not take International Tea Day as a chance to try a new tea blend? Fruit infusions and herbal teas are plentiful, each blend boasting its own unique flavour profile. They’re especially good if you’re looking to reduce your caffeine intake. So, take this opportunity to acquaint yourself with a new blend and break out of your typical tea routine.
At Hotel Chocolat, we’re always striving to find new ways to incorporate cocoa into recipes, including tea. Cocoa tea has a delicate flavour that is more similar to the deep, red berry notes of the cocoa bean than a bar of chocolate. It’s aromatic and comforting, and retains a creamy edge, even without milk. If you’d like to brew your own cocoa tea then take a look at our guide to find out more.
Alternatively, you could always treat yourself to one of our Large Chocolate Hampers. Not only does this generous collection include a variety of chocolate slabs, hot chocolates, and caramels, but it also features our Cocoa Tea Pillow Pack. This blend includes all-natural Assam tea leaves and cacao shells to power up your traditional morning cuppa.
Make some chocolate tea cakes
What’s your dunker of choice? Certain biscuits lend themselves better to tea-dipping, and Britain certainly offers a wealth of biscuits to choose from. However, if you’re slightly tired of the same old, shop-bought selection then try making your own. Chocolate tea cakes are perfect to serve alongside a hot brew. Just make sure you don’t dip them in for too long – you want to be able to savour all of that opulent, melty chocolate.
What if I don’t like tea?
We understand that tea isn’t for everyone. However, this shouldn’t mean that you or a guest should miss out on the fun. Hot chocolate is a delicious alternative for those who prefer the sweeter side of a hot beverage. We make ours with shaved pieces of the real chocolate, promising a rich and smooth experience with every sip. Whizz it up using the Velvetiser for a barista-grade hot chocolate to really ‘wow’ your guests.
Our Rabot Estate Coffee can also be served to those who like a bit more of a kick, Blends vary in strength, meaning you can serve a punchy cup or a more mellow drink. Don’t worry, serving these alternatives won’t betray the spirit of International Tea Day.
Sit down with tea drinkers and non-tea drinkers alike and pay homage to International Tea Day in style.