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Monday, November 9, 2009

Wartime Tea Rationing in the UK

I find stories of wartime tea rationing in the UK fascinating.

From Tea & Taste - The Visual Language of Tea
(available for purchase here)

Tea helped to see Britons through war. While tea rationing was not implemented during World War I, it was enforced during World War II. Strict rationing from July 1940 allowed the purchase of only 2 ounces of tea per week per person, a program that continued at various levels until 1952. Tea was still being served and acted as a morale-booster for many during the war and never a drop was wasted as leftoever tea and tea leaves were used to clean. Tea merchants banned together to help in the war effort. Continuing to serve clients, Lyons teahouse made 100 cups of tea to the pound rather than the usual 85. Twinings supplied tea for Red-Cross prisoner-of-war packages, for the Women's Voluntary Service, and for many YMCA wartime canteens. Despite the fact much of London was being bombed, tea was still served. Following the bombing of the Twinings teashop on The Strand, employees had tables set back up within hours to serve tea.

From a letter dated September 16, 1940 by an Air Raid Post worker in London:

The worst thing to be brave about is the tea ration.
Everything else can be managed.

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Southern Touch Catering said...

How interesting and what bravery too.

Jason Witt said...

This is a touching story for me. That was the Good War. How would I do it? Could I go without more tea for myself? I'd have to and that's how the war would reach me in a very personal way.

bakelady59 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bakelady59 said...

I remember my mother saying she would make use of the pencil line when going out dancing as stockings were in short supply, and any stockings you did have were washed in left over tea, to keep their colour.

In a crisis the first thing we Brits do is 'Put the Kettle on' it makes us feel better and appears to solve all of life's problems. Interesting article.

Smitten by Britain said...

I love those stories too Denise. My favorites are the photos of Londoners taking tea in the bowels of the Underground.

heavy tweed jacket said...

What a wonderful blog! I can't get over that 2 oz of tea was the rationed amount for one week. We might go through that in a week today, but we also have so many other beverage choices today, too. Wonderful bit of history.

Melanie said...

Tea and tea leaves were used for cleaning?? Cleaning what? How? Do you know anything about that?

Denise ~ Charleston, South Carolina. said...

Hi Melanie, used, wet tea leaves would have been sprinkled over cooled down fireplace ashes to help keep the dust down when removing the ashes from the fireplace. I have done this many times myself. I also read somewhere that used, dried tea leaves were scattered across carpeting before hoovering up - the leaves acted as a natural deodorizer. I also read that cold tea can be used to clean a mirror, but I have not personally tried that one yet as I never seem to have any leftover tea, much less cold tea!

Anonymous said...

Tea for cleaning... for antiques if you "wash" the furniture with tea it restores the color should it have faded. Use coffee for the darkest woods.

if you put used dried tea leaves (wrapped in a cheesecloth) into shoes it freshens them...

also, not being rude, should a person have "bad feet"/athletes foot, soak feet in tea for fifteen minutes daily for two-three weeks. The tannins in the tea cure the problem.

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