Our meeting in the Churchill's War Rooms

We were visiting the Churchill's War Rooms last week and we have made a nice meeting with an employee of the museum, Mr Free. 


We had a long conversation about Mr Wiston Churchill and.. Tea of course. 


Do you know that, the Second World War's first think of the Prime Minister was to allow British to drink their daily tea ? 


In fact, during the War, the government acted for drastic action to safeguard this essential moral-boaster. Just two days after war broke out, it took control of all tea stocks, and ordered that the vast reserves then stored in London must be dispersed to warehouses outside the capital in case of bombing. Because "Where there is tea, there is hope" said Sir Arthur Pinero.


How it was with the rationing ?


During 1949, enemy blockades prevented ships from getting through. The Ministry of Food introduced a ration of 2oz of tea per person per week for those over the age of five. It was not a lot. But there was extra tea for those in the armed forces and the domestic front for those vital jobs such as fireman. Tea was also sent in Red Crossparcels to British prisoners of war abroad.


What do you think about todays tea consumption ?


Tea takes a great part of our daily consumption. Even me, I drink my morning cup of tea every day. But, I think that because of massive installation of coffee shops people could not have the same access to tea than before. You know, people could have a cup of tea in any pub or snacks twenty years ago. But today, even if Starbuck sells tea they don't have a lot of choice compared to coffee or latte or hot chocolate.


When did people have a cup of tea before ? 


During the whole day. I'm a football fan and I remember that, there was a period when the half-time rang, the players had a cup of tea which waited them in the changing room. There was also a "Tea woman" whose sold the tea in the stands. You should see that also in an Harry Potter film, when a women came in the wagon with a trolley of candies, it was the same before, except that the trolley transported tea. The tea is usually drunk with milk or cream. We can add sugar but this kind of consumption began when sugar had became an affordable commodity. But in Britain, it's strange to add a lemon wedge with tea. We don't do that. 


Is tea a real moral-booster ?


Of course ! It's a habit for English people to propose a cup of tea when somebody was hurt or when a child felt down. It was also use as a medicine because of its relaxing virtue. And its also a traditional drink. When someone came house it's impolite if you do not propose him a cup of tea. Tea is a comforting good. As it is said "Tea is the answer to most problems"


Just a fun fact, when my father gave his blood, the doctor gave him a cup of tea after, in order to cheer up him.


What do you know about the production of tea in England ?


Already, when I was younger, I worked in a tea factory. What it's funny about the tea in Britain is that, there is a huge rate of tea consumers but the good come from abroad. Indeed, industries like Twining or PGTips, are just put in bags the good and manage the packaging here in Great Britain.


But, because of the global warming, Tregothnan Estate, in England’s Southwestern county of Cornwall, is producing the first tea ever to be grown in British soil. It is not a huge production for the whole country, but it is interesting to know it. 


We were delighting to had this interesting discussion and we hope that it is allow you to improve your knowledge in tea. 


Mr Free is also a writer, if you would like to see his work click there. Thank's again for his help :)