Every month we take a look at the different items rationed during the second world war. This months ration is Tea.
What could be more British than a nice cuppa! Tea rationing in Britain didn’t start until July 1940, the average tea ration was 2oz per adult per week. Back then the tea was sold loose, the modern tea bag wasn’t invented until 1944! The loose tea was actually more beneficial as you could easily re-use the tea leafs over and over again.
The popular Tea Shops in England were ‘off ration’ and anyone who could afford it could purchase tea for consumption on the premises. The conspicuous ability of the rich to enjoy almost pre-war levels of gastronomy at top hotels led to such resentment from people at large that the government prevented restaurants charging more than 5/- a meal from 1942.
One alternative for those who could not afford to buy extra tea or used there ration up quickly was to make their own tea! The government produced booklets with recipes for Nettle Tea.
The British government had realised as early as the first world war that Tea was of national importance to the war effort. In fact a young minister called Wiston Churchill, gave serious consideration to growing tea in the UK during the first world war. However, horticultural experts advised that a minimum period of six years was required to establish a tea plant, so it was decided to stockpile dried tea instead.
Now Prime Minister, Winston Churchill declared in 1942, that “Tea is more important than ammunition”, and directed that servicemen always had as many cups as they wanted and that it would be issued without restriction.
Amazingly it wasn’t until 1952 that tea rationing ended. Finally the nation could get back to brewing up, much to the relief of the world’s tea producers, nearly a third of the tea produced in the world is consumed in the UK and Ireland.