Tea is by far the most popular hot beverage among older people and in a typical year, more than 28 billion cups are consumed by UK pensioners.
Although the vast majority of these are made with tea bags, there has been a significant resurgence in the use of leaf tea, which in turn has led to a 215% increase in the sales of tea strainers and a 340% increase in the number of professional tasseographers (see Words, Unnecessary).
According to the British Tea Council, the most commonly chosen varieties among pensioners are:
Conjeeling – a thick Indian tea with a hint of gum Arabic
Chi-chi-cha – a Cantonese tea with a hint of panda
Oolong Outalong Downalong Rosie Lee – a native British tea with a hint of panic.
Herbal teas like Wormwood Twankay and Eyebright & Dittany Flask Worry are becoming increasingly available, and some independent producers are now supplying blends tailored to individual personalities, including Diffident Masala, Hubris Kambucha and Innocent Russian Caravan.
Traditional teas can also be used to smoke fish and meat, formed into a paste to repair bicycle tyres and mixed with cannabis to make tea-pot.