We Irish sure are fond of a cuppa!

We sure are fond of an aul cuppa here and there, aren’t we? You simply cannot be Irish or live in Ireland and not drink tea, sure you can’t?! Let’s face it, Ireland is barely half the country it is without tea, and without a “ah sure gwan will ya, I’ll stick the kettle on and you’ll have a cuppa before you go” every now and again. 

But just why are we Irish daoine so drawn to tea? Is our renowned love for tea-drinking labelled stereotype fitting? Let’s take a look now at some of the reasons why we, as a tea-loving nation, might be slightly obsessed with the art of tea drinking. 

An emotional loyalty: Barry’s & Lyon’s tea

Many Irish people, believe it if you dare, have an emotional connection to the brand of tea they consume in their household. Yes, that’s right, an emotional connection! Whether you drink Barry’s or Lyon’s tea is quite a significantly big deal in Ireland. If you prefer Barry’s, then you CANNOT have Lyon’s also hanging round your house. Just no, just no. One or the other people!

It’s pretty much a sin in our country if you don’t have either or to Irishly offer your visitors, plumbers, electricians or neighbours. In Ireland, it’s more than uncommon to enter someone else’s house and not be asked (more than once!) “Barry’s or Lyon’s?” It’s quite funny to think about it, but it’s true: we Irish take pride in our loyalty shown towards these coveted Irish-brand teas. 

Culturally-defining tradition

Tea, amongst other things of course, defines Irish culture. Believe it or not, all Irish pubs across the country are, today, legally required to offer tea on their menu! So, let’s get this straight: it’s officially against…the…law…in Ireland to own a bar and not serve the good aul . That’s how important tea really is for us Irish. No pub or restaurant in our precious Emerald Isle would dare go against this culturally-defining Irish tradition!

Due to our (deserved and accurate) hospitable (tea-related) reputation, the majority of tourists coming to visit Éire will be dying to try a cuppa in an Irish bar or restaurant. That’s our unique selling point: Irish hospitality, Irish tea, all in an Irish pub. What life sounds better than that? 

There’s nothing more uniquely Irish than to sit by a beautifully comforting typical-Irish-bar fireplace on a cold and rainy winter’s day and hold a soul-cleansing, warm, milk-filled cup of tea while eating your favourite fish and chip meal or while watching an English Premier League soccer match on a mid Sunday afternoon. It’s reinvigorating, comforting and soothing all at once. Irish tea, thank you for making life that little more manageable!

You just don’t say no to tea in Ireland

It’s common Irish knowledge that saying no to a cup of tea is like saying no to a sunny holiday in the Canary Islands. In simple terms, if you’re Irish, you just don’t say no to a ol’ cup of tea when an Irish person presents you with a more-often-than-not extraordinarily enticing opportunity to, yep, you guessed it, drink a hearty cup of wholesome Irish tea. 

Us Irish are also very well-known for our persistent but hospitable nature, so if you initially reject someone’s offer of a cup of famously Irish Barry’s or Lyons tea, be prepared for some good-natured persistence from a kindly hospitable but slightly offended proud Irish tea adorer. The perfect example of this is this hilarious clip of one of Ireland’s most iconic TV shows Father Ted

The homely, comforting nature of it

There’s something quite uniquely comforting about a simple cup of Irish tea and us Irish can’t and haven’t been able to live without it since its Éire arrival way back in the early 1800s. Almost always, when an Irish person visits their nan, the boiling of the kettle and the tea drinking will be the absolute number-one priority once the hugs, kisses, and the “oh, haven’t you grown an awful lot” or the “you’re looking more and more like your father each time I see you” typical Irish nan formality is out of the way. 

When you’ve travelled long and far to come home to visit your loved ones, you’ll (if you’ve been born and raised in Ireland) no-doubt subconsciously or consciously expect to hear the familiar Irish-type-of-homely sound of a kettle being boiled. Before any bags are touched or before any unpacking business is even thought about, a motherly “well, ya must be wrecked, sit down there now, love, and drink your cup of tea” comes first and foremost. An “ah, I’m home now” will, more often than not, be the first thought that comes to mind immediately after that first sip of tea. 

A proper good catch-up is incomplete without a cuppa

A physical face-to-face pre-COVID-19 Irish catch-up, with anybody in Ireland, is absolutely one hundred percent incomplete without a cuppa. Yes, us Irish talk quite a bit, but not as much as when we have a cup of tea in our hands and that good stuff entering our tea-craving bodies. 

Conversation simply goes hand in hand with having a cup of tea with a friend, work colleague, neighbour, or whoever it might be. Even the shyest of Irish people will get a convo boost after a sip of the magic Barry’s or Lyon’s. After all, Lyon’s remember, does put “the talk into tea.”

The weather certainly plays its part

The Irish weather, due to its wet and cold nature, cannot be disregarded as one of the main reasons for our love for tea in Ireland. Holding a nice big, warm, hearty cup of tea up close to your chest, almost as if you were hugging it, is an extremely typical thing to see an Irish person do. Stereotype? Perhaps, yes, but one thing’s for sure, and that’s that without tea in Ireland, lighting a fire would perhaps be our only solace. And which one takes the least amount of effort? 

About the author

Conor Lynch

I am a Spanish-speaking aspiring Irish journalist with strong published experience in Irish regional newspapers. Also a substantial amount of live and pre-recorded on-air radio experience at establishments such as Limerick's regional radio station Live95FM. I am focused and determined with an incredibly strong work-ethic, and am determined to forge a career in the media. I am aiming to obtain employment in Broadcast Media, with my ultimate goal being to become a Sports Commentator and a Radio DJ. Young, highly-driven, ambitious aspiring journalist.

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