When someone mentions England in a foreign place, an influx of stereotypes enters the brain. We won’t waste time mentioning them all because the topic of rain, fish and chips and bad teeth are neither uplifting nor positive. However, there is one very special, very important part of English culture, which is not done justice by its stereotype. That is – British Café Society.
For most people from outside of the UK, it will not come as a shock to have the following statement affirmed: the Brits like tea – and lots of it! With this in mind, and in order to pass yourself off as an integrated member of British society, there are three things you must know:
- Tea can be, and is, drunk at any time of the day or night.
B. Do not be fooled into believing that your average Brit sits down for their daily tea intake at 5pm like the Queen.
- Tea is made with milk.
There are exceptions to every rule, and I by no means wish to make lactose intolerant readers feel excluded here, but it is customary to drink your tea with milk in the UK – much to the disgust of many foreigners!
- You will be expected to offer a cup of tea to anyone who visits your house.
The expressions “Fancy a cuppa?” and “Let’s put the kettle on.” are as commonly heard as “Hi, how are you?”
My advice to any newcomers in the UK is this: learn how to make a good ‘brew’ (aka cup of tea), and new friendships will be sure to follow.
While tea is something that is drunk throughout the day (you are unlikely to find a kettle which has not recently been boiled in your average UK office), most Brits would agree that the best cup of tea is the kind that is enjoyed with a friend, and accompanied by something sweet.
Britain’s Café Society can be seen in hundreds of cafés and tearooms in every town, city, and village of the UK. Here people can escape the rain (yes, this stereotype is also painfully accurate) and enjoy a ‘cuppa’ while having a good natter. Meeting people for tea is most commonly done for elevenses (a mid-morning snack between breakfast and lunch) or afternoon tea (a mid-afternoon snack between lunch and dinner).
So, the next time you find yourself in the UK, stuck indoors because it’s raining again, and you’re not sure what to do, I suggest you go and put the kettle on. After all, there is no problem that cannot be solved by a cup of tea!