IT is a quintessential British tradition that can offer a moment’s respite and breathe new life into the day, but enjoying a nice cup of tea with a biscuit and a good dunk is said to be at risk of dying out.


Is there a more British tradition…?

Thank dunking a rich tea or a digestive in a nice hot cup of tea? It is indeed historic and said to have spread in popularity via Queen Victoria, who regardless of any high society frowns, was said to be a dunker, thought to be inspired by the German custom learned in her childhood, to soften up “Mandelbrot” biscuits.


A cup of tea itself…?

The roots of enjoying a cuppa stretch back 5000 years to its invention in China and it did not arrive on these shores till much later, with the first dated references of it being offered on sale in London coffee houses in the 1600s. 


It became a staple of life?

Tea spread in popularity in Britain when Charles II wed Catherine of Braganza in 1662, with the Portuguese princess's love of the beverage establishing it as a fashionable drink. Then in 1706, Thomas Twining opened the first tea shop in London, and soon black tea became more popular thanks to the addition of milk and sugar, which was not done in China. As it rose in popularity, imports surged, the price came down and it became more affordable for all.


And biscuits became part of the custom?

Inspired by the royal approval, when the upper and middle-classes hosted tea parties between lunch and dinner, sweet treats were served and the tradition took flight, while dunking had been popular for centuries on Royal Navy ships, when biscuits known as "hard tack" were dunked in beer or coffee to soften them up.


So what’s happening?

New data from the United Kingdom Tea & Infusions Association (UKTIA), following a survey of 1000 people, found younger generations are more inclined to have a savoury snack with their cuppa. Granola bars are the tea snack of choice for one in ten 18 to 29-year-olds, according to the data, with 8 per cent saying they would prefer a samosa, while no-one over 65 years made that choice.


Why the change?

Dr Sharon Hall, chief executive of the UKTIA, told The Telegraph: “I think granola bars are probably also quite filling so maybe people are having that as a snack with their tea to fill them up. They may be looking for something a little bit more substantial. The same would apply to a samosa."


So the future is…?

…different, perhaps, with samosas and granolas tea-time offerings in place of custard creams or malted milks. Dr Hall added: “One thing that we are interested to find out more about is maybe such food reminds them of recent travels they have taken and a cuppa with a samosa takes them back to that memory. We know from the data that a cuppa triggers many sorts of positive emotions, and that’s something that really cuts across all age groups.”