Why have Brits stopped drinking so much tea?

·3-min read
Tea drinking is in decline in the UK. (PA)
Tea drinking is in decline in the UK. (PA)

Tea drinking has become synonymous with British identity for many, but this may not stay true forever with the latest data showing people are drinking a third as much tea compared to the 1970s.

The new data comes from the Family Food Survey, which tracks how much food and drink people buy.

In 1974, a typical person bought 68g of tea a week each, now it's 22g.

Why are we drinking less tea?

The biggest reason Brits now drink less tea is that we now drink more coffee.

In fact, based on grams purchased per week, Brits now buy more coffee than tea.

Coffee overtook tea in 2015 and has kept its lead ever since.


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Brits now buy 22g of tea per week compared to 30g of coffee.

Brits are not even the biggest tea drinkers in Europe, 87% of Germans and 81% of Swedes said they drank tea in a 2020 YouGov survey, compared to 78% of Brits.

One of the reasons we are drinking less tea is also down to the fact we are eating fewer biscuits as well, this is partly because our sweet tooth preferences have shifted to chocolate and sweets.

It also appears enthusiasm for tea is not being passed down to younger generations.

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Fewer than one in six Britons aged between 25 and 34 has five or more cups of English Breakfast tea daily, whereas those aged 55 to 64 are twice as likely to do so, according to a survey done by Mintel in 2016.

Finally, many Brits are choosing to drink more herbal and sweet teas that tend to be more expensive than traditional English tea.

This means people are still buying teas but are choosing to drink fewer more expensive teas.

What else has changed since 1974?

Brits now buy considerably less whole milk, potatoes and bread than we used to.

In 1974 Brits bought on average 2,655ml of whole milk a week, compared to just 302ml in 2020.

The decline in whole milk has been replaced by skimmed milks, with just 5ml bought on average in 1974 compared to 1,024ml in 2020.

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Pouring hot tea into white ceramic tea cup the time of tea break.
Young people are drinking less tea. (PA)

It is a similar story for potatoes, with on average 1,318g purchased a week in 1974 compared to 355g in 2020.

The amount of bread we are purchasing has also halved, with just over 1,000g bought in 1974 compared to 524g in 2020.

Brits are now buying more fruit compared to 1974, with gram purchased rising from 515g to 767g.

This health kick isn't universal though, frozen pizzas were introduced to the UK in 1975 and people were buying 2g of them a week, compared to 62g in 2020.

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