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Who Drinks the Most Tea?

by Emeric Harney September 29, 2022 4 min read 5 Comments

Who Drinks the Most Tea?

Think you know the answer to the question, “Who drinks the most tea?” You may be surprised.

While China seems like the obvious answer, and for good reason since the country IS the largest consumer of tea at 1.6 billion pounds per year, astonishingly, China is not the largest consumer of tea per person. That honor, ladies and gents, goes to Turkey! According to The Atlantic, the Turkish people consume nearly seven pounds of tea per year, which puts them in first place by a long shot. (Go Turkey!)

Second place belongs to…not the UK like you might be thinking (see, this is fun!), but to Britain’s next-door neighbor, Ireland. The Irish drink nearly five pounds of tea every year; whether they add a shot of Irish whiskey to their tea is their business! The UK comes in third, with Brits quaffing just over four pounds of tea a year.

China actually places 19th, with the Chinese enjoying not quite one-and-a-half pounds of tea per person annually. They still place first for largest consumer by country due to their population, but what this stat means is if you had a Turkish person and a Chinese person sit down side by side to see who could polish off the most tea, it’s going to be a slam dunk for the Turkish – much like no one can beat Joey Chestnut, the 14-time champ of the annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. Like that.

Where does the U.S. rank, you ask? Well, not even in the top 25. Americans drink about half a pound of tea every year…which means we’ve got lots of room for improvement! Come on America, you can do it!

Let’s take a quick look at the three top tea-drinking countries and some of the teas they enjoy.

Turkey

In addition to drinking tea, tea is also grown in Turkey. In fact, it ranks in the top five in the world for tea production. Most of the tea grown in Turkey, however, stays in Turkey. With their heavy-duty tea drinking habits, it’s easy to understand why: they need all the tea they can get!

While you’ve certainly heard of Turkish coffee – and the Turkish people do enjoy coffee as well – drinking tea is a tradition that goes back hundreds of years. As you can imagine, consuming nearly seven pounds of tea per year requires an all-day effort! Tea consumption begins in the mornings and continues throughout the day. A pot of tea is always available in Turkish homes and workplaces, ready to offer guests or for tea time. We love this next fact: Turkey mandates two tea breaks a day by law! That’s some serious tea drinking.

Drinking tea in Turkey with others is a symbol of friendship, much like it is elsewhere in the world, but they obviously take their tea drinking very seriously. Tea is part of most rites and rituals in Turkey and is a valued part of Turkish culture.

The teas grown in Turkey are black teas. The Turkish in general do not care for milk in their tea but will often add sugar or lemon. While we don’t carry any Turkish-grown teas, their tastes suggest they might enjoy our Capri blend, a black tea with lemon peel, fig, vanilla, and lemon flavors. Our Royal Palace blend is also a good choice for a Turkish cuppa with its black tea base, lemon, and grapefruit flavors.

Ireland

Coming in an enthusiastic second, Ireland is serious about its tea! The Irish average four to six cups per day, and when they drink tea they don’t mess around! The Irish generally prefer a strong, bold tea just like they prefer a nice dark stout beer.

During the Great Famine, those Irish who were able to obtain tea drank it to help them stave off hunger. Now it is a daily staple and the country’s most popular beverage – even more so than that famous stout beer! If you’d like to drink tea like the Irish, try these Irish-inspired blends as well as blends from their Scottish neighbors who carry a similar affinity in their tea tastes. They’re so bold, they’ll give you the courage to wear a kilt and try your hand at bagpipes. You’ve been warned.

England

As famous as the Brits are for loving their tea, they still come in third when it comes to per-person consumption. That ranking does not, however, in any way diminish their devotion to their daily “spot of tea.” After all, the ritual of afternoon tea was started by a British duchess in the 1840s, and it remains a time-honored ritual to this day. Interested in learning how to hold a proper afternoon tea, or just in knowing how to hold your teacup properly? Check out our Tea Like the Brits blog for everything you need to know to Keep Calm and Tea On!

The sky’s the limit on blends that any respectable tea-loving Brit might enjoy…but here are some suggestions.

No matter which teas you decide to try, those that might be preferred by tea drinkers in Turkey, Ireland or England, if you live in America…just drink more! We’ve got some serious catching up to do!

Emeric Harney
Emeric Harney


5 Responses

Kathy
Kathy

November 19, 2022

Very interesting article, an enjoyable read. I do use my tea bag for more than one infusion then will switch to another flavor later in the day as I always have the kettle on when I am at home.

Talha Sirdas
Talha Sirdas

October 11, 2022

I’m Turkish and I love Earl Grey Supreme, so much so that I bought a bag for my mom (earl grey tea is common in Turkey but not as good imo). My family now expects Harney and Sons teas every time I visit them in Turkey lol

Jane Marie Kwiecinski
Jane Marie Kwiecinski

October 11, 2022

I’ll bet that Egypt is in the top ten. Everywhere that you go in Egypt you are immediately offered a cup of their wonderful mint tea. You can’t sit down to talk business until your host produces a cup. This is true from shopkeepers in the Khan Kalili to the most senior military advisors. I’ve never found anything close in this country to that intensely flavorful mint tea.

Ted C. Hanf
Ted C. Hanf

October 11, 2022

A very interesting article, but one based upon conclusions which may be affected by what statisticians would refer to as “confounders.” Chinese teas tend to be much lighter, and commonly far less is used in any given infusion. A typical Chinese will place a fraction of what Western tea drinkers use into a pot or, these days, a travel mug, and reinfuse it many times over throughout the day. Westerners – especially those who consume tea using tea bags – tend to dispose of a bag after only one infusion. Teas purchased in mass chain retailers often come with two bags in a single large-sized paper cup and are used only once. I suspect that a more accurate comparison could be drawn from data on the number of ounces/milliliters consumed per person in those countries rather than the gross dry weight of the teas which are consumed. Still, great info for a pub-quiz!

Madeline Bassin
Madeline Bassin

October 11, 2022

Any research on Russia’s tea life? Silk Road and samovars? (I looked up all the samovar use I could find on you tube as my mom was sentimental for them.) Were samovars used to heat the homes in the 19th Century? “The Americans” tv series pointedly showed the glasses with elaborate metalwork holders for tea service whenever Russians sat down to tea.My parents just used lemon on the side and my uncles served sugar cubes, intended to hold them between teeth! I didn’t get cross cultural exposure about teas until years out of parental home and into diverse urban food culture of New York City. The “nice gless tea, nice piece cake” was the treat given by my immigrant grandmother born in Russia in 1880’s. Way back nostalgia time machine here…..

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