Last weekend was the beginning of the magical time for Christians called Advent. During this time, I will be writing three posts about different traditions in my home country – Britain. Thankfully Marie-Theres Schindler organised a group where bloggers post about different topics related to Advent and Christmas. Here is my take on the theme tea and punch. I hope you enjoy it!
It wouldn’t be Christmas without a lot of tea and punch during the cold, winter period. Imagine the situation, the days are getting shorter, the nights are getting longer, the temperature outside is close to freezing, would you stay outside or rather be indoors with a cup of freshly made tea or punch? I know where I’d like to be! But, the question is, where do tea and punch come from? And how did they become a Christmas tradition? In this blog, you’ll find out.
Tea wouldn’t be tea without the right place to grow it. According to historians, there are myths and legends that tea was first drnk in China 2000 years before Jesus was born. It was not until the 1500s, though, that tea, in general, became popular in Europe. First the Dutch imported tea from the island of Java (part of Indonesia). 1606 saw the first imports of tea from China to Holland. In Britain, it wasn’t very popular until the Catholic King, Charles II, married a Portuguese princess, who was a tea addict. Today, Europeans drink it in all different forms: fruit tea, herbal tea or the British favourite: black tea. Black tea is usually with a drop of semi-skimmed milk and one or two sugars (teaspoons of sugar).
British culture and tradition
Nowadays, British people are renowned for drinktea all day. At different times of the day, we drink different types of tea. Take the most important meal of the day – breakfast – and British people will drink a cup of English Breakfast Tea.
Between lunch and dinner we have a very special time that you might have heard of, called teatime, – around 5pm. Here, British people will either have a cup of Assam or Darjeeling to wash down the sandwiches or small snacks they might have. This special time only came into fashion during the mid 19th Century and since then the British have never looked back when it came to teatime. Tea is a very special part of the British culture and without British people, it survive. And because of this, the British can’t have Christmas without a cup of tea.
Christmas time in Britain
A British Christmas has to include a lot of tea. I don’t just mean black tea, but also tea with spices such as cinnamon and ginger. Also a British Christmas tea has to have your daily dose of Vitamin C – lemon. And for all British people, we need to have a (preferably) homemade mince pie to go with it. This is a very traditional British Christmas.
Punch or Judy?
You’re probably wondering what the name Judy has to do with Punch. Well, Punch and Judy were characters in a puppet show created in Italy in the 1600s. However, the English decided to use these characters themselves to make stories that would become famous for hundreds of years.
But, do these characters have anything to do with Christmas Punch? The simple answer is no! Punch is drink that was created by British merchants in the 17th century. Merchants at that time drank a lot of beer, but due to the climate in the Indian Ocean, beer would lose its fizz and taste. Therefore, the merchants needed something else to drink. Using different ingredients in the British East Indian colonies, merchants created the drink what we now know as punch.
There was a time in the mid 1800s during the reign of Queen Victoria when alcoholic punches were disapproved of and non-alcoholic versions were produced. The 1950s saw the re-emergence of the alcoholic punch in Britain, drunk by women who were at lunch with each other.
Further bloggers who wrote about tea and punch (in German) are:
- Vivi – http://cosmic-blue.jimdofree.com
- Elke – www.aftermyfancy.at
- Anke – @lafilou79
- Kathi – @kathikeinstein
- Tanja – www.blog.pfoetchencrew.at