Introduced to England from China in the 16th century, the warming aromatic beverage of Camellia sinensis, a.k.a. Tea, is as quintessentially British as the Queen, the British Bulldog and the Red Telephone Box. If there’s ever a major problem to solve or something to celebrate you can guarantee that in Britain it will be done over a good English cuppa.
Here a some of the best Tea Quotes by British authors and poets:
“My hour for tea is half-past five, and my buttered toast waits for nobody.”
The Woman in White (1859) – Wilkie Collins (1824-1889). The novel is widely regarded to be one of the first mystery novels ever written.
“All true tea lovers not only like their tea strong, but like it a little stronger with each year that passes – a fact which is recognised in the extra ration issued to old-age pensioners.”
A Nice Cup of Tea (Article published in the Evening Standard – Jan. 12, 1946) – George Orwell (1903-1950) was the nom de plume of Eric Arthur Blair who is best known for his novels Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-four.
“If you are cold, tea will warm you; if you are too heated, it will cool you; If you are excited, it will calm you.”
Quote (1865) – William Ewart Gladstone (1809-1898) was a Liberal Politician and British Statesman who served as Prime Minister for four terms.
“My dear, if you could give me a cup of tea to clear my muddle do a head I should better understand your affairs.”
Mrs. Lirriper’s Legacy (1864) – Charles Dickens (1812-1870) The novel was first published in All the Year Round Extra Christmas Number – a weekly literary magazine that was founded and owned by Dickens.
“I am so fond of tea that I could write a whole dissertation on its virtues. It comforts and enlivens without the risks attendant on spiritous liquors. Gentle herb! Let the florid grape yield to thee. Thy soft influence is a more safe inspirer of social joy.
London Journal (1762-63) – James Boswell (1740-1795) was a Scottish lawyer, diarist and biographer. He most famous work is his biography of Samuel Johnson.
“Tea’s proper use is to amuse the idle, and relax the studious, and dilute the full meals of those who cannot exercise, and will not use abstinence.”
Essay on Tea in The Literary Magazine (1757) – Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) was a prolific writer and one of the greatest literary figures of the 18th century. He is the subject of James Boswell’s famous biography and perhaps his most famous legacy is his compilation of ‘Dictionary of the English Language’ which took over eight years to complete and contains more than 40,000 words.
“Surely a pretty woman never looks prettier than when making tea.”
Lady Audley’s Secret (1862) – Mary Elizabeth Brandon (1835-1915) wrote more than eighty novels. She is best known for this sensation novel, Lady Audley’s Secret, which became a bestseller and made her fortune,
“‘Take some more tea,’ the March Hare said to Alice, very earnestly.
‘I’ve had nothing yet,’ Alice replied in an offended tone, ‘so I can’t take more.’
‘You mean you can’t take less,’ said the Hatter: ‘it’s very easy to take more than nothing.’
‘Nobody asked your opinion,’ said Alice.”
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) – Lewis Carroll (1832-1898) was the nom de plume of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson.
“Tea! Thou soft, thou sober, sage, and venerable liquid, thou female tongue-running, smile-smoothing, heart-opening, wink-tippling cordial, to whose glorious insipidity I owe the happiest moment of my life, let me fall prostrate.”
The Lady’s Last Stake: Or, the Wife’s Resentment (1707) – Colley Cibber (1671-1757) was a playwright, as noted by the comedy above, actor, manager and Poet Laureate of England.
“Arthur blinked at the screens and felt he was missing something important. Suddenly he realised what it was.
‘Is there any tea on this space ship?’ He asked”
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1978) – Douglas Noel Adams (1952-2001) was author, dramatist and screenwriter. His Hitchhiker’s Guide was originally produced as a BBC radio comedy. It was eventually turned into a series of five books that sold over 15 million copies and led to various spin-offs including a TV series and comics.
…And finally – an amusing American perspective on Britain’s obsession with tea!
“The British never seem to do anything until they’ve had a cup of tea, by which time it’s too late.”
North West Frontier (1959) – Lauren Bacall (1924-2014) was an American actress whose career spanned more than six decades. The 1959 British/ Eastmancolor adventure film is set in 1905 on the North West Frontier of British India. Bacall’s character is called Mrs Wyatt and is an American widow.