Join us in looking at how tea is far more than just a drink, from the beloved drink’s history to the different cultures surrounding tea in the UK.
Here at Twinings we’ve been exploring the world of tea through our Tea Tales series. As part of that we’ve been inviting you along to Drink It All In and join us in looking at the ways in which tea is far more than just a drink, from exploring the beloved drink’s history to the different cultures surrounding tea around the world.
In continuing this series we thought it would be a bit of fun to highlight some of the superstitions that surround tea. Do you ever catch yourself throughout the day avoiding cracks in the pavement or walking under ladders? Perhaps you recite a rhyme when passing magpies?
You’re not alone; recent research suggests that two-thirds of us harbour these harmless superstitious gestures and habits on a daily basis. What you may not be aware of is that there are some interesting superstitions around the UK relating to the nation’s favourite hot beverage.
SPILT TEA LEAVES
A common superstition is that it is bad luck to spill salt. Nobody knows for certain where any superstition comes from, but this particular one could have something to do with the fact that salt used to be an expensive commodity, so by spilling it you were essentially wasting money!
The idea of throwing it behind your left shoulder was to supposedly blind the devil that was watching over you.
However, in 19th century England it was considered good luck to spill tea leaves. People at the time would scatter loose tea leaves in front of their home to protect the family from evil spirits, so if tea happened to be spilt inside the house, that just meant extra protection!
"SHALL I BE MOTHER"
You may or may not have heard of this phrase when pouring tea from a pot. It comes from the English superstition that if two women are drinking tea together and one of the women wanted to have a baby, they’d do the pouring and therefore become a mother within a year.
Also, it was said that no two women should pour from the same pot or an argument would occur!
SPOON AND SAUCER SORCERY
A Scottish superstition states that it is considered bad luck to stir tea with anything other than a spoon, as the handle of a fork or spoon is said to stir up trouble for the improper stirrer!
The superstition continues that - whilst setting the table - if two spoons are placed on the same saucer, it is prophesised that the drinker will marry twice or, if a young girl, will go on to have twins!
PREDICTIONS FROM THE POT
There are many English superstitions regarding teapots. For example, when brewing a pot of tea, if the lid of the teapot is left off, then an ominous stranger will call at the house, and if you forget to put the tea into the pot before the boiling water, it was seen as a very bad omen indeed!
It was said that if you made the tea too weak, then you’d fall out with a close friend. On the other hand, if the tea was too strong, you’d make a new one.
When it comes to emptying the pot, English fishermen of the past had some very strange beliefs. They would never empty a pot of tea fully when they were out at sea, because this represented them ‘pouring away’ all the fish they were hoping to catch.
This meant that pouring away their tea would result in having to return home empty-handed. Also, their families back home wouldn’t empty their teapots on the day the fisherman set sail for fear of causing the boat to sink.
In some parts of Britain, it is believed that if there are bubbles floating in your tea after it is poured from a pot, it is an indication that there is some money coming your way.
The more bubbles there are, the more riches! In other regions, it was believed that if bubbles stick to the side of the cup, then romance is in the air, with each bubble representing a kiss.
Considering the importance that the tea experience has in the life of British people, it is no surprise that a variety of rituals, superstitions and practices have become established around the nation’s favourite brew. Next time you’re enjoying a delicious cup of Twinings tea, why not have a think about the historical rituals and customs around your cuppa... just be careful not to spill it!
Do you have any tea related superstitions or routines? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook.