Happy #NationalTeaDay: 11 of the best quotes about tea in literature

“I say let the world go to hell, but I should always have my tea.”

1y ago

The humble cup of tea. However you take it, it’s likely you drink it in some shape or form. I’m one of those strange Brits who likes every kind of tea, apart from ‘normal’ tea. Give me green, mint, fruit, oolong, jasmine pearl, matcha, anything, apart from a classic builders’ brew.

More than 100 million cups of tea are drunk every day in the UK. But it’s not just us Brits that love our tea. If you tuned into the live pub quiz with Jeremy Clarkson last week, you’ll know tea is the most manufactured beverage in the world.

The history of tea is very long and complicated. Records show it first came about more than 5,000 years ago in China, with the first book on tea written by Lu Yu in 800 AD.

And since then, tea has been mentioned in many books. Here are 11 of my favourite quotes about tea in literature (with a couple of poems thrown in for good measure).

Fyodor Dostoevsky, Notes from Underground

“I say let the world go to hell, but I should always have my tea.”

Bill Watterson, The Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book

“Rainy days should be spent at home with a cup of tea and a good book.”

Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady

“There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.”

E.M. Forster, Howards End

“While her lips talked culture, her heart was planning to invite him to tea”

Lin Yutang, The Importance of Living

“There is something in the nature of tea that leads us into a world of quiet contemplation of life.”

Muriel Barbery, The Elegance of the Hedgehog

“When tea becomes ritual, it takes its place at the heart of our ability to see greatness in small things. Where is beauty to be found? In great things that, like everything else, are doomed to die, or in small things that aspire to nothing, yet know how to set a jewel of infinity in a single moment?”

Arthur Wing Pinero, Sweet Lavender - A Comedy in Three Acts

“While there is tea, there is hope.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson, Letters and Social Aims

“Some people will tell you there is a great deal of poetry and fine sentiment in a chest of tea.”

Thomas De Quincey, Confessions of an English Opium Eater

“Surely everyone is aware of the divine pleasures which attend a wintry fireside; candles at four o'clock, warm hearthrugs, tea, a fair tea-maker, shutters closed, curtains flowing in ample draperies to the floor, whilst the wind and rain are raging audibly without.”

Saki, The Complete Saki

“Find yourself a cup of tea,

the teapot is behind you.

Now tell me about

hundreds of things.”

Carol Ann Duffy, Tea, Rapture

“I like pouring your tea, lifting

the heavy pot, and tipping it up,

so the fragrant liquid streams in your china cup.

Or when you’re away, or at work,

I like to think of your cupped hands as you sip,

as you sip, of the faint half-smile of your lips.

I like the questions – sugar? – milk? –

and the answers I don’t know by heart, yet,

for I see your soul in your eyes, and I forget.

Jasmine, Gunpowder, Assam, Earl Grey, Ceylon,

I love tea’s names. Which tea would you like? I say

but it’s any tea for you, please, any time of day,

as the women harvest the slopes

for the sweetest leaves, on Mount Wu-Yi,

and I am your lover, smitten, straining your tea."

What's your favourite quote about tea?

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Comments (9)

  • “Take some more tea,” the March Hare said to Alice, very earnestly.

    “I’ve had nothing yet,” Alice replied in an offended tone: “so I can’t take more.”

    “You mean you can’t take less,” said the Hatter: “It’s very easy to take more than nothing.”


      1 year ago
  • My Grandad: "I'm just DYYYING for a cup of tea!" 😂😁

      1 year ago
  • “More tea, vicar”

      1 year ago
  • I don't think it's in literature, but he was certainly a literary man, so it counts - CS Lewis: "You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”

      1 year ago
  • 'Put the kettle on'

    SteamyTea 2020, 2019 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997, 1996, 1995, 1994, 1993, 1992, 1991, 1990, 1989, 1988, 1987, 1986, 1985, 1984, 1983, 1982, 1981, 1980, 1979, 1978, 1977, 1976, 1975, 1974, 1973, 1972, 1971, 1970, 1969, 1968, 1967, 1966, 1965, 1964, 1963, 1962, 1961, 1960, 1959, 1958.....

      1 year ago