Well-known as a nation of tea lovers, the Brits are also massive fans of biscuits according to a survey for the UK Tea and Infusions Association (UKTIA; www.tea.co.uk). The real-world research poll found that more than half (55%) have a sweet or savoury biscuit with their tea. Indeed, a third admit to snacking on several biscuits at a time! Just 14% of Brits never eat anything with their tea.
Dr Sharon Hall, Chief Executive of the UKTIA, says: “While sweet biscuits are the go-to snack for more than four in 10 tea drinkers, other popular options are savoury biscuits, a piece of cake, or a sandwich. Just over one in 10 (14%) enjoys their cuppa with lunch or evening meal. A healthy one in 20 (5%) have a piece of fruit, while samosas or granola bars are popular amongst younger tea drinkers aged 18-29 years.
“However, it’s worth knowing that the delicate flavour of some teas can get easily overwhelmed by buttery or chocolatey biscuits, so there is definitely a science to choosing the right biscuit for your cuppa. Whether you prefer a mug of regular builder’s tea or enjoy a refined cup of Earl Grey, there’s a biscuit pairing for you”.
And, while the calories in our snacks can easily add up, people are confused about whether tea itself contains calories. According to the UKTIA survey, more than seven in 10 incorrectly said that tea without milk or sugar provides 1 to 150 calories, with most plumping for the 1-50 range.
Dr Sharon Hall adds: “As the nation gets to grip with pandemic weight gain, it’s good to know that black, green and herbal teas are all naturally calorie-free. We know from our survey that most people (67%) add a splash of dairy or plant milk to their tea – which would deliver only around 15 calories, making tea a healthy option for those trying to watch their weight.
“Sugar is a different matter and can add 16 calories for each teaspoon. Just under a third of people in our survey take sugar in their tea”.
So, from a flavour perspective, which type of biscuit goes best with which tea? Dr Sharon Hall offers SEVEN delicious pairings:
Regular black tea
For the traditional British cuppa, taken with or without milk, Dr Hall recommends a chocolate digestive. “Pairing up the nation’s favourite tea with their favourite biscuit make sense. Both are comforting and a good excuse to take 10 minutes out of the day”.
The citrus flavour of the Bergamot oil used to make this historic tea goes beautifully with the orange tang of a Jaffa Cake. Dr Hall says: “While the debate about whether a Jaffa is really a biscuit or a cake continues, there’s no doubt that this pairing will delight your taste buds”.
Dr Hall advises: “The clean, grassy – and often sweet – notes of green tea can get overpowered by buttery or chocolatey biscuits so choose something fruity instead, like a fig roll or Garibaldi biscuit”.
“This soothing bedtime brew – with flavours of apple, vanilla and honey – can be paired with a familiar, childhood favourite, such as a malted milk biscuit”, says Dr Hall.
“Mint and chocolate pairings go really well in other food combinations”, notes Dr Hall, “which is why an Oreo cookie is a tasty pairing for a refreshing cup of peppermint tea”.
Red bush (Rooibos)
More people are opting for a caffeine-free red bush brew at night. Dr Hall suggests: “For those who fancy a nibble with it, the oats and syrup flavour of a hobnob complement the nutty, woody notes of rooibos”.
“Putting a traditional slice of buttery shortbread with a cup of liquorice tea may seem unusual but it’s worth the experience”, says Dr Hall. “Liquorice has an aromatic taste and is vibrant enough to cut through the sugary-sweetness of shortbread”.