Is microwaving water for tea acceptable?

The lockdowns in the United Kingdom have helped tea sales surge by 65% year over year (2019 vs 2020). Apparently, there has also been a huge interest in how the British prepare their daily cup of tea after an American woman shared her questionable ‘tea-brewing method’ video on TikTok. In response, The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company conducted a survey to conclude how to make the perfect cup of British tea.

The survey revealed that 30% of Brits disagree on the following brewing method: tea bag goes in first, boiling water is second and the milk is the final step. To no surprise, the majority – 96% – agreed that microwaving the water is just wrong. (I wonder what the response would have been if using a single serve brewing system for just the water was a survey question…)

The survey revealed that the top brewing-techniques according to Brits are:

  • Tea bag, water, milk: 70.4%
  • Water, tea bag, milk: 12.5%
  • Tea bag, milk, water: 6.8%

Is anyone adding the milk first? Surprisingly, the answer is yes. The research found that more than 76% of people who add the milk first are men. And although many respondents agreed that microwaving the water is wrong, the survey discovered that most men (71%) actually opt to microwave the water rather than boiling the water in a kettle.

Furthermore, half of the respondents who add the tea bag the last and microwave the water are between 25 and 44 years old.

The survey also revealed that 65% of Brits prefer their tea without sugar. The data shows that younger generations are more likely to have a sweet brew, with Gen Zers typically adding two teaspoons and millennials, three. Meanwhile, most people ages 45 years and older do not add sugar to their tea. (This is on par with coffee studies that find younger demographics also prefer their coffee, both hot and cold, sweeter than older consumers.)

Without a doubt, the UK is a nation of tea-lovers, and this passion has continued to grow since the first lockdown in March 2020 with Brits drinking more tea than ever. According to the survey, the Northern Irish are the most “cuppa addicted” in the UK with the majority of respondents admitting to having more than five cups of tea per day, followed by the Welsh with 3-5 daily cups. The English and Scottish share the same levels of tea consumption per day: between 1-2 cups.

The survey also offers insights into another great tea debate: Which are Brits’ favourite tea brands? The data shows there is stiff competition between two brands: Yorkshire (favourited by 26.2%) and PG Tips (26.1%). The four most popular tea brands in the UK, per the survey are:

  1. Yorkshire Tea: 26.2%
  2. PG tips: 26.1%
  3. Tetley: 13.2%
  4. Twinings: 7.2%

This study was conducted by the Pluckley, Ashford-based, The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company. The data used in this study was collected via the Google Survey platform and conducted between 9 and 12 February 2021. The tea-consumption habits of approximately 2000 Brits were analyzed through questions to users that cover brewing techniques, milk and sugar preferences, daily tea intake and brand choices. Data points were then averaged and grouped by age group, gender and country.

So, while the great “proper cuppa” debate in the UK rages on, and as the weather is nearing 70˚F (c. 20˚C) again in New York City today, I may do something very “American,” and have an iced tea (but not a sweet tea!)!

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