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The Great British Cup Of Tea

It comes as no surprise that the British drink more than 60 billion cups of tea a year, but what is it about this classic drink that people love so much? While some like it with milk, one sugar – two,  fruity or just simply plain, it’s the drink that brings people together.  Tea has become symbolic in our culture and is almost ingrained into the British way of life, from “shall I put the kettle on?” to scrumptious afternoon teas out,  the cup of tea provides us all with a sense of comfort and enjoyment.

Here at Neo Direct, we believe a good cup of tea can make all the difference to your day.  We’re all very busy people so taking time out to relax and unwind is essential,  whether you’re feeling too much pressure at work, or you’re catching up with friends, a cup of tea goes down a treat. Tea is renowned for boosting your mood and has even been known to reduce tension. But where did this magical drink originate? Is there caffeine in tea? And what is the best way to enjoy these fruity alternatives? Don’t worry we’re on hand to spill the tea.  

What is tea?

Tea is an aromatic popular beverage that is usually prepared by pouring boiling water over cured leaves of the Camellia sinensis, this is an evergreen shrub that is native to East Asia. There are different kinds of tea, like Chinese greens or Darjeeling, which provide a more bitter taste, while some have a more sweet, floral or nutty taste. You’ll find a whole host of different flavours and infusions to suit your taste buds, with some offering some great benefits. Herbal teas are hot drinks that offer an infusion of fruit instead of Camellia sinensis.

Where did tea originate?

Tea originated in Southwest China during the Shang dynasty, where it was used as a medical drink, with the earliest medical text dating to the 3rd Century AD by Hua Tuo. Tea then became a popular recreational drink during the Chinese Tang dynasty, which spread to other East Asian countries. 

It is believed that Portuguese priests introduced tea to Europe during the 16th Century. Tea has been consumed in the United Kingdom since the 18th Century, and is one of the greatest consumers worldwide. The British Empire was instrumental in spreading tea from China to India as they controlled the tea production in the subcontinent. What was known as an upper-class drink in continental Europe, became the drink of choice for every social class in Great Britain during the 18th Century, and it still remains the same today. 

Tea is often found accompanied with sandwiches, scones, crumpets and cakes during an afternoon tea, a popular British custom alongside dunking a biscuit in a cup of tea. 

How many calories are in a cup of tea?

1 cup of tea has 3 calories in it.

However, adding your preferred milk and sugar options can alter the calorie intake. 

1 cup of tea with 30 ml of milk and two teaspoons of sugar would equate to about 37 calories. 

Using skimmed or no milk, with no sugar is your best option if you’re wanting to cut calories . 

(This also depends on how many biscuits you’re dunking) 

How much caffeine is in tea?

There is 11mg of caffeine in a regular cup of tea. 

2 cups of tea = 1 cup of coffee.

Black tea, or English breakfast tea may be the most flavorful tea, but it is also the most caffeinated. 

There are decaffeinated tea options available if you’re wanting to decrease your caffeine intake. 

What is English Breakfast tea?

English breakfast tea is on the most popular blended teas, particularly in British and Irish culture. It’s rich deep flavour comprises a blend of teas originating from Assam, Ceylon and Kenya.

Healthy herbal teas 

Herbal teas have been globally popular for centuries, however, despite being labeled teas they are not ‘teas’ at all. 

They are made from flowers, spices, herbs or dried fruits. This makes the choice of herbal teas particularly extensive. 

Herbal tea makes a better option to an alternative sugary beverage, especially as they have been used as natural remedies for a variety of ailments for many years. 

Here are our favourite herbal teas you must try: 

Chamomile tea

Chamomile tea is most commonly known for its calming effects and is frequently used as a sleep aid. It’s also used by women who believe it relieves premenstrual symptoms.

Peppermint tea

Peppermint tea is one of the most commonly used herbal teas in the world. People drink this tea as they believe the peppermint oil helps relieve nausea, cramping and stomach pain.

Ginger tea

Ginger tea is used by people to combat nausea, as many have found it can be an effective use for this. Many also believe it offers benefits to people with diabetes.

Sage tea

Sage tea is well known for its medicinal properties, and scientific research has begun to support several of its health benefits, especially for brain health.

Lemon tea

Preliminary studies have found that lemon tea may improve antioxidant levels, skin and heart health. Some have experienced it relieving symptoms of anxiety.

Herbal teas come in a variety of other delicious flavours and are naturally free of sugar and calories. Whether you’re a tea lover or not, there are so many options available, you’re sure to find one to suit your palette. 

Honey and lemon tea 

If there’s another thing us Brits are used to, it’s developing a cold or cough in the winter. While drinking lots of water, stocking up on tablets and having a few days rest make up the usual cold combating routine, drinking honey and lemon tea is believed to be extremely comforting to cold or flu like symptoms. 

If you’re suffering from a cough or congestion, then lemon juice is renowned for cutting through the congestion,  while the honey has been recorded as a soothing for the throat. 

How to make honey lemon tea 


  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice 
  • 2 Tbsp honey 
  • ½ cup of hot water 


Pour the lemon juice and honey into a tea cup. Add hot water and stir. 

Add more honey or lemon to suit your taste.

Green tea

Green tea is not a herbal tea, it is made from Camellia sinensis leaves and buds that have undergone the same withering and oxidation process as black teas. While it originated in China, like black tea it’s production and manufacture has spread to other countries. Green tea, however, is full of antioxidants that are believed to have many health benefits including improved brain function, fat loss, and lowering the risk of diseases such as heart disease.  This hydrating beverage is rich in polyphenols, which are natural compounds that are said to have health benefits, such as reducing inflammation. 

While none of these health benefits can be 100% proven, many people want to consider making green tea a part of their regular routine. Green tea has a very distinctive taste that some can’t grow accustomed to, so we’ve got some tips on how you can make it that little bit more palatable. 

How to make green tea taste better 

The grassy flavour of green tea alone is too much for some people, luckily you can add some additional subtle flavourings to make this tea taste better.

  • Add a slice of lemon or a small dash of lemon juice to counteract the bitter flavours if you’ve steeped the tea for too long. 
  • Add raw sugar, honey, or a stevia leaf if you want to add a little sweetness to earthy flavoured tea. 
  • Spice up the flavour with herbs and spices such as fresh ginger.
  • Add mint leaves for a refreshing flavour.
  • Add cinnamon sticks or nutmeg for a richer flavour.

Similar to cooking, brewing green tea means that you have to pay attention. Green tea leaves are delicate and can burn just like foods do. Green tea should not be steeped for more than 2 minutes. Start by brewing a new green tea blend for 1 minute. You should taste the green tea every 30 seconds to find a flavor that works for you. 

Top tip: Tea becomes increasingly bitter the longer it is steeped. If you prefer light flavor, steep the tea for shorter amounts of time.

Create your own afternoon tea 

Afternoon tea was introduced in Britain in the 1840’s, it evolved as a mini meal to comfort the hunger and anticipation of an evening meal. It was initially developed as a private social event for ladies who were high in society. In Britain today, afternoon tea is usually enjoyed as an occasional indulgence to celebrate a special event, birthday, pre-wedding or baby shower. 

Creating your own afternoon tea has never been easier, and here at Neo Direct, we have all the tools you need to make your very own scrumptious treats in the comfort of your own home. Discover a stylish collection of kitchen appliances, whether it’s an illuminating glass kettle or a convenient hot water dispenser that suits your needs, both are ideal for brewing the perfect cup of tea. Our electric stand mixers make cake mixing effortless, with a variety of colours available you’re sure to find one to accompany the interior of your home. If you’re looking for some tasty treat inspiration, browse our blog where you’ll find recipes for tasty afternoon tea favourites such as lemon drizzle cake and battenburg.  

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