The World’s Perfect Cup of Tea

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while and most especially if you follow me on Twitter, you know all about my love for tea. In my opinion, it’s the nectar of the Gods. I drink it hot, and yes, I drink it iced (shudder), and every day, sometimes all day. I drink it more than anything else, even water. I drink green tea and ginger peach tea, with caffeine and without, but my absolute favorite is English Breakfast. My, how I love a milky brew in the morn’.

I’m not alone, indeed tea is the world’s most popular drink and those of us who love it understand why. It’s not just the taste of tea we love but the ritual of drinking it. For many of us, “taking tea” is our answer to crisis management. It means slowing down, taking a breath, then taking a sip. It means having a nice chat with your friends and serving up tea with some sympathy.

No, you won’t find a whole lot of disagreement among tea drinkers when asked why they love it so much. A more difficult question to ask is, “What’s the perfect cup of tea?” With over 2000 blends of tea available, how do you pick just one? And does the perfect cuppa include milk and sugar too?

Recently, Visit Britain set out to answer this question and was quite surprised by the results. In fact, they were so overwhelmed by the public response they received that they have now declared Sunday, 28 November as International Nice Cup of Tea day – an online event on Facebook.

For more on this special day and the survey results, read the press release below.


It’s official – the world’s perfect cup of tea is Earl Grey with milk, no sugar, best enjoyed while dunking a Digestive biscuit and reading a good book, says a VisitBritain survey.

It has long been clear that a nice cup of tea is Britain’s favourite hot drink. But VisitBritain has set out to discover whether the rest of the world shares our enthusiasm and, if so, how our international friends like to enjoy the refreshing beverage.

We asked fans of our award winning Facebook page ‘’LoveUK’’ around the world five key questions about how they like to drink their tea. Did they prefer it with or without milk, with how many sugars, what did they like doing while enjoying it and perhaps most importantly what kind of biscuit they nibble as they sip?

Well over 1,200 tea-loving respondents from across the globe took part in our social media survey and the results surprised us.

Opinion was fiercely divided throughout the study, with 58% of respondents insisting on the importance of drinking tea with milk. Laure Voirin from France declared that she ‘liked it with milk, a la British’. Another respondent from Asia claimed ‘I drink tea with milk in England but without when in Japan’.

Among those keenest on taking tea in the British style were respondents from Germany followed by tea addicts in the USA, Canada and Brazil.

However the world appears not to have much of a sweet tooth. Some 46% of respondents preferred no sugar, making unsweetened tea the most popular option, 27% favoured just one tea spoon followed by 19% who opted for two teaspoons and 7% for three.

But what is the world’s favourite type of tea?

This was a much tighter contest. Surprisingly 36% of respondents made Earl Grey the most popular tea of choice followed closely behind by ‘English Breakfast’ with 31% and Green tea in third with 10%. Darjeeling won 13% of the votes, fruit tea 16%, Orange Pekoe 7%, Assam and Lapsang Souchong on 7%, with 20% saying they preferred some ‘’other’’ sort of tea.

‘English Breakfast’ was most popular with the British respondents as well as many of our close European neighbours. But Earl Grey received many British votes and this variety proved extremely popular across South East Asia and their votes swung the final verdict.

A ‘Treky’ from Connecticut was particularly enamoured of drinking a nice cup of British Earl Grey tea under the influence of the cult show. ‘How can you go wrong with Earl Grey. “Tea Earl Grey, hot.” Captain Pickard’s standard order on Star Trek: The Next Generation’ he said.

Foreign respondents marvelled at the array of British made biscuits that are traditionally associated with tea.

But which one came up top trumps in the dunking stakes? According to this research 29% of the world prefers to dunk a Digestive biscuit into their tea. The closest biscuit rival is the chocolate chip cookie, pulling in just over half as many votes with 15%. Custard creams, one of the greatest British biscuits, came a distant third with 8% followed by a host of other options such as hobnobs, Jaffa Cakes and Ginger biscuits.

So once you have made your tea, decided how many sugars you want and which biscuit to dunk – what does the world actually like to do when drinking a nice cuppa char?

Only 3% of respondents wanted to have a smoke while enjoying their tea whether it was on a cigarette break at work or in the comfort of their own home.

The world’s tea drinkers prefer their own company. Only 10% wanted to have a quick chat with friends over a cuppa. Reading came up top of the table with 24% of votes.

Murielle Barrowman namesake of stage, screen Torchwood and Dr Who star John Barrowman, claimed she couldn’t think of anything better than to ‘read a book or listen to a good song from John Barrowman…’

So it seems we like to enjoy our tea in peace and quiet. It is quite the opposite kind of experience from having a beer down the pub with friends.

Patricia Yates, Director of Strategy and Communications, VisitBritain said: “It appears that the great British tradition of a nice a cup of tea has created an online phenomenon. We were overwhelmed by the scale of the response to our Love UK survey from people all around the world. The choice of Earl Grey as the winner came as a big surprise.

“Tea-drinking has been a key part of our culture for 250 years and it will always be emotionally connected to Britain. 165 million cups of tea are drunk daily in the UK alone and this research shows our enthusiasm has a world-wide audience.”

In celebration of the World’s Perfect Cup Of Tea, VisitBritain has declared Sunday 28th November “International A Nice Cup Of Tea Day”. An online event has been set up via its Facebook page, Love UK, so everyone around the world can ‘attend’ and celebrate the glory of tea together. This Sunday, Love UK ( will become a ‘Virtual Tea Room’ where fans can post photos, videos, comments and a good old chinwag over a brew! Global guests can also follow and take part in Sunday’s tea celebrations as they unfold on Twitter using the hashtag #IntTeaDay and by tweeting to @VisitBritain.

Nearly 2,000 people have already signed up to ‘attend’ the event and they have invited over 5,000 of their friends in just 5 days. Join International A Nice Cup of Tea Day at the event page on facebook:!/event.php?eid=166834316680704

Follow the giant Love UK teapot in its search for The World’s Perfect Cup of Tea taking in some of the capital’s most iconic sights and amusing a few tourists along the way!

There is also a fantastic range of advice on where you can enjoy tea across Britain on our award-winning website It lists the Top 10 Tea Rooms in Britain ranging from The Wolseley in London, Llangoed Hall in Wales up to The Balmoral in Edinburgh.


  1. says

    I have to have regular brown tea first thing in the morning (English Breakfast) but love a cup of EG (with milk) in the afternoon. My VERY fave Earl Grey is made by the Argo chain and is called Earl Grey Creme. It has extra bergamot and it truly divine.
    As for all those rituals (warm the pot first, use fresh water in the kettle every time) I don’t really have any except – never microwave the water. Ever.

  2. says

    I think I’m the only English person who doesn’t drink tea at all!!! The girls in the office have at least a cup every hour!!!

    • smittenbybritain says

      I don’t know Emma, I think younger people especially are changing this trend. If nothing else, they are giving up tea for coffee.

  3. says

    Earl Grey my fat backside :-) I can’t be doing with rubbish Foreign tea!

    Straight forward English PG or Tetley is all you need !

    The style? Tea should always be Maria, and at engineer’s strength.

    Hobnob, preferably chocolate.


    (Maria = white Nun) (engineer’s strength = dark brown)

  4. alison says

    I`ve been taking my tea with a slice of lemon for a year now (without milk of course). Havent suffered a cold at all during this time.