Great Britain is an island in the north Atlantic Ocean off the coast of the European continent.
This country with a long history and extensive influence certainly has an interesting drinking tradition, maybe one of them is tea, but there are many others.
So here are the 21 most popular British Drinks you should know.
- 21. Posset
- 20. Wassail
- 19. Metheglin
- 18. Brown Ale
- 17. Ginger Beer
- 16. British wine
- 15. Pale Ale
- 14. Sedna
- 13. Black and Tan
- 12. Mild Ale
- 11. Old Ale
- 10. Stout
- 9. British Cider
- 8. British Gin
- 7. Pimm’s
- 6. Perry
- 5. Prince of Wales Blend tea
- 4. Builder’s tea
- 3. Earl Grey tea
- 2. Dandelion and Burdock
- 1. English Breakfast Tea
Posset, which is also historically spelled as Poshote or Poshotte, is a popular British hot drink.
Possets are made from milk thickened together with wine or ale. However, it is often also seasoned, and not a few people use it as medicine.
However, in the 16th century, the drink developed into sweets made from cream, sugar, and oranges. Possets are still consumed today as a ‘dessert’ menu.
To make it, first, the milk is heated until it boils. After that, mix it with wine or ale until it thickens. The mixture is then given spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg.
Possets are considered to have medicinal properties for some minor ailments such as colds or insomnia medication.
Posset recipes first appeared around the 14th and 15th centuries. One of the recipes gives instructions on making a Posset by boiling milk, adding wine or ale, and making it cold.
In the 16th century, the usual posset was made from lemon or orange juice.
Some recipes also use eggs or breadcrumbs to thicken the possets. Until the early 19th century, Posset was commonly used as a toast at weddings.
Currently, Posset can be used as an alternative menu.
Wassail, which in Old English is ‘was hal,’ literally means ‘be healthy.’ The drink made from ‘mulled’ cider is often served hot.
Wassail has a pleasant aroma and taste, mainly derived from the use of the spices in it.
Although Wassail and Cider are both made from spiced apple juice. However, Wassail has traditionally been aimed at warm, spiced apple cider.
This drink is a part of the ‘Wassailing’ tradition, a medieval English Christmas drinking ritual.
The tradition of “Wassailing” is related to a prayer ceremony to ask for a smooth apple cider harvest in the following year.
The earliest versions of Wassail were made of warm mead where roasted crab apples were dropped and crushed to make “Lambswool.”
The drink was drunk on the day of Lammas known in Shakespeare’s time. Over time, the drink develops into fruit juice mixed with sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Then served using a large bowl.
Modern recipes add wine, fruit juice, or ale, and sometimes brandy or sherry are also used.
Some recipes also use beaten eggs that are mixed with the drink. As a result, Wassail recipes can vary according to each tradition.
Metheglin is a variant of traditional mead or honey wine with added herbs or spices.
Some common Metheglin contains ginger, tea, orange peel, nutmeg, cinnamon, coriander, cloves, or vanilla. Initially, this drink was produced as traditional medicine.
The drink, which originates from Wales, comes from a combination of two syllables in the local language, namely ‘meddyg,’ which means ‘healing‘ and ‘llyn,’ which means ‘liquor.’
Today, it is much easier to find Metheglin brewed with spices than from herbal ingredients.
Also, due to the combination of honey and spices, which produces a very warm drink, Metheglin is often consumed in winter.
So that not a few Metheglin producers make Christmas versions of products; the famous one is Lyme Bay.
Friary Liqueur also makes a Christmas mead, which is different but equally interesting.
Therefore, any Metheglin packed with sweet spices will make a nice warm drink, especially in winter.
Apart from these two brands, there are many well-known Metheglin brands. For example, Celteg Medieval Mead with mint flavor, Afon Mêl Ginger Mead with a ginger mixture that makes the taste smooth.
18. Brown Ale
Brown Ale is a kind of dark yellow or brown beer. London brewers first used the term in the late 17th century to describe their products, like Mild Ale.
Although the term now has a slightly different meaning. Now there are Brown ales that are made in several regions, especially in England and America.
As well as being ‘top-fermented,’ Brown Ale has a darker color than Pale Ale with a slight sourness.
Brown Ale is also a sweet, low alcohol beer, such as Manns Original Brown Ale.
Besides, Brown Ale also includes a medium strength yellow beer with a bitter taste such as Newcastle Brown Ale or a malty beer and hoppy, for example, the Sierra Nevada Brown Ale brand.
In 1800 brewers stopped making them because they no longer used brown malt as a base.
The term Brown Ale was revived in the late 19th century.
At that time, Brown Ale was much stronger than most versions today. Brown ale can also be distinguished by origin.
Brown ales from eastern England tend to be strong and soft. Meanwhile, Brown Ale in southern England is darker, sweeter, and lower in alcohol.
17. Ginger Beer
Ginger Beer is a traditional, carbonated sweet drink that is usually made without alcohol.
Ginger Beer is made by natural fermentation, which comes from ginger, yeast, and sugar.
Although most Ginger Beer is made with no alcohol content, there are also alcoholic Ginger beers. One of them is the Crabbie brand.
Alcoholic ginger beer will usually be labeled specifically to distinguish it from the unfermented ginger beer.
Meanwhile, non-alcoholic ginger beer can be described as a kind of carbonated soft drink flavored with ginger.
One example of a brand is Stoney, which is a product of The Coca-Cola Company.
Ginger Beer is also widely used in cocktail recipes. Some types of cocktails that contain Ginger Beer are like Shandy.
The cocktail is made by mixing it with British beer. Apart from that, Ginger Beer can also be mixed with dark rum to make a cocktail called Dark ‘N Stormy.
Ginger beer was originally popular in England and its colonies starting from the 18th century.
Ginger Beer originated from the spice trade with the Eastern colonies and sugar-producing islands in the Caribbean.
Brewed Ginger Beer originated in Yorkshire in England in the mid-18th century and has since become popular in England and its colonies.
16. British wine
Although wine is widely consumed in Great Britain, there are few wine producers in the region.
Wine production in England has historically been considered less than ideal due to the too-cold climate. So most of the wineries are in southern England and Wales.
Vineyards are common in Essex, Sussex, and Kent, where the climate is warmer than in northern England.
Most of the UK wines are white and “sparkling” wines with an emerging market.
Today, British wines come mostly from white grape varieties such as Chardonnay, Huxelrebe, Ortega, and others.
UK wine labeling rules are governed by Protected Denomination of Origin (PDO), with well-known brands such as Kit’s Coty Estate.
The Romans introduced winemaking to England and even tried to grow it as far north as Lincolnshire.
Wine production continued into the Normandy era, with more than 40 vineyards as in the Domesday Book.
Since medieval times, England has been a major customer of French wines such as Claret and Bordeaux.
But after the Methuen Treaty in the 18th century, French wine was subject to high duties, so it turned to Spanish wines such as Sherry or Madeira from Portugal.
15. Pale Ale
Pale Ale is a top-fermented beer made from the malt with a predominantly pale color.
Therefore, the high malt proposition makes Pale Ale produce a lighter color.
There are various flavors and varying strengths within the Pale Ale family.
For example, Amber Ale, which is brewed with the proportion of ‘amber malt’ and sometimes ‘crystal malt’ to produce a yellow to light brown color, or it can be a bit darker.
Other variations include American Pale Ale (APA), Indian Pale Ale (IPA), Bière de Garde in France, Blonde, Burton Pale Ale, English bitter, Scotch Ale, and Strong Pale Ale.
Famous British Pale Ale brands include Timothy Taylor’s, Fuller’s, Samuel Smith’s, and others.
The term Pale Ale first appeared around 1703.
First used as a designation for beer made from dry malt with high carbon coke.
As brewing practices have developed and different hops levels have resulted in the various flavors and varying strengths of alcohol in the Pale Ale family.
Coke was first used in dry roasted malt in 1642, but the term Pale Ale did not appear until about 1703.
Then in 1830, the terms “Bitter” and “Pale Ale” became synonymous. Customers often refer to them as ‘Bitters.’
Sedana is an alcoholic drink made in Belfast, North Ireland, United Kingdom.
Sedna was sold as a tonic and was originally made from port wine with coca, pool nuts, and beef.
In general, Sedna is described as having a crunchy and soft taste. Moreover, the long and complicated filtration process makes the character very soft.
The water used in Sedna comes directly from the coast in Newfoundland.
Sedna is a tonic that is often called the “King of Tonic.”
The drink is strong with a ‘port wine’ mixture and contains coca and caffeine elements. Especially in the early years of its production and advertised as a medicinal wine.
Apart from North Ireland, Sedna is also imported into New Zealand and classified as a tonic, so it is only sold in pharmacy shops.
Meanwhile, in Australia, Sedna is categorized as an alcoholic drink and is legally only sold in places that have been licensed.
Sedna went on sale in 1897. The drink was first produced by the Snaed Manufacturing Company, which then changed to Denas, Logan & Co. Ltd.
Previously the brand name was suggested as the “Andean” source of coca extract, but Sedna may also be an anagram of the word “Deans.”
13. Black and Tan
Black and Tan is an English cocktail made from two types of beer, ‘Stout’ and ‘Pale Ale.’
As the name suggests, the cocktail has a combination of light and dark colors. To make it, dark beer or ‘Stout‘ has to be poured slowly into the ‘Pale Ale.’
The tradition of mixing beer in England dates back to the 17th century. Likely, Black and Tan was first used to describe the drink in 1889.
Until the 1980s, Black and Tan was a mixture of Pale Ale and Stout-coated drinks.
Its early history can be traced to London during the 1700s when a beer mixture called “Three-threads” or “Five-threads” was consumed.
Each ‘thread’ is a type of beer mixed into a drink for tax evasion purposes.
Because mixing a thick, high-tax beer with a small, low-tax beer can benefit beer producers.
This practice continued from the late 1960s to the 1700s, before the Stout or Porters beer was developed.
The terms Black and Tan is quite controversial, especially in Ireland.
Because the name is associated with the Royal Irish Constabulary Reserve Force, which was sent to Ireland in the early 1920s.
So Black and Tan in Ireland is called by another term, ‘Half and Half.’
12. Mild Ale
Mild Ale is a kind of ale or beer with a predominantly malty character. Modern Mild Ale is mostly dark in color, with alcohol ranging from 3% to 3.6%.
But there are also other varieties of Mild Ale which are lighter in color and contain strong alcohol, 6% or more.
This type of beer originated in England in the 17th century or even earlier and was originally called ‘Young Ale‘ instead of Old Ale.
Meanwhile, the ‘Light Mild’ style is generally similar but with a paler color, such as Harveys Brewery and Knots of May.
Because there is basically a little bit of overlap between Mild Ale’s styles with ‘Bitter’ and ‘Light Mild,’ with the term AK referring to both.
AK itself is a very common beer name in the 19th century and is often referred to as “Mild Bitter Beer” or “Mild.”
The term ‘Mild‘ was originally used to denote any kind of beer that is young, fresh or not, and does not refer to any particular type of beer.
So it could be that Mild Ale is a Mild Porter and even Mild Bitter Beer, especially in the 19th century.
Over time, Mild Ale became one of the popular beer variants, especially in the 1960s.
Especially in the UK, such as in the West Midlands.
Some of the famous Mild Ales are Bank’s Mild, Highgate Dark Mild, Brain’s Dark, and Cain’s Dark Mild.
11. Old Ale
Old Ale is a general term used for dark and malty beer in England.
Generally, Old Ale contains 5% alcohol. Sometimes the term is also associated with ‘stock ale‘ or more anciently with ‘keep ale,’ where beer is stored in the place of production.
Historically, Old Ale was served as a complement to or a substitute for Mild Ale.
It was common for the landlord to serve a mixture of a sharper beer broth with a lighter beer, which tasted more fruitful and sweeter to taste in ancient times.
In London, Old Ale usually has an acidic character that comes from secondary fermentation using Brettanomyces yeast.
However, because the aging process took a long time, Old Ale was finally made by storing Mild Ale in a brewery.
Also, in some cases, Old Ale is made by mixing old and young beer.
Meanwhile, the term “Stock Ale” comes from a very old beer and is used to inject quality and acidity into the mixture in making Old Ale.
There are also several Old Ale variations, some manufacturers pairing old wine with a fresh beer in a barrel.
Meanwhile, many factories, especially in Sussex, England, made Old Ale with a weaker style, such as King and Barnes and Harveys.
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Stout or Porter is a style of beer that originated in England.
Stout is a dark beer with various fermentation variations such as dry stout, oatmeal stout, milk stout, and imperial stout.
Porter’s style originally originated in London, England, in the early 1720s.
The style later became popular in British cities, especially for coolies or porters, where the name originated.
At that time, this style was often described as stronger and more durable than other beer styles and was considered cheaper.
Porter also came to be known as Stout. Originally the adjective meant “proud” or “brave,” but after the 14th century, it had a “strong” connotation.
Stout was first used for beer in 1677 from a document in the Egerton Manuscript.
Hence, due to its surging popularity, brewers made it in various strengths.
The higher strength beers are known as “Stout Porters.” However, until now, there is still debate whether Stout should be separated from Porters.
Because the term Stout was originally intended to show the stronger Porter.
More recently, Stout has also tended to describe Dry Stouts with a dash of barley or Sweet Stouts such as the Milk Stout and Porter for roasted malted beer.
9. British Cider
The UK is the main producer of Cider in the European Union and is experiencing its heyday in the 21st century.
Mainly due to the large diversity of producers, brands, and consumers. The Romans first introduced cider to establish a relationship with the local culture.
One of the most important factors in making Cider on Great Britain’s territory came from the Normans.
Some recent evidence also suggests that the Romans grew apples and pears during their stay in England, from records on Vindolanda tablets.
The documentation in 1676 by John Worlidge in “Vinetum Brittanicum” also explores treatises on apple production and processing.
Therefore, it is not surprising that the UK is currently the largest consumer of Cider globally, especially in pubs.
Most of the British Cider is associated with regions such as the West Country, West Midlands, and parts of the Home Counties and East Anglia.
There are two traditions in Cider’s production in England, the West Country Tradition and the Kent Tradition in the East Anglia region.
The first tradition produces Cider with a higher apple presentation, so the taste is sharper.
Meanwhile, Kent’s Cider tends to be clearer and lighter. Cider can also be differentiated into White Cider and Original Cider, with many well-known brands.
8. British Gin
Gin has a long and distinguished history in England.
London is even the home of the Gin Craze of the 18th century and the birthplace of the world’s leading brands.
Today, the UK has specialty-style Gin distilleries, including Plymouth Gin.
Initially, the Gin drink was popularized in England after the King of the Netherlands, William of Orange, provided an alternative to French brandy during the conflict between England and France.
Today Gin has regained its place in the UK, and various Gin manufacturers operating.
Some of the gin producers in the UK are Beefeater, Booth’s Gin, Gordon’s Gin, Gilbey’s, Nicholson’s, and specialty regions like Plymouth.
Gin’s complex character is also recognized through well-known British brands such as Tanqueray No.10 or Ramsbury Gin.
One of the most important periods in Gin’s history in England was ‘The Gin Craze‘ in the first half of the 18th century.
Where at that time, the consumption of gin increased rapidly in England, especially in London.
Especially because the refiners have succeeded in reaching the lower community market.
However, this is not without consequences. Because so many people consume Gin, British cities end up experiencing a serious hangover epidemic.
This sparked moral outrage and a reaction from the government. So that rules are made to control Gin consumption.
Pimm’s is a brand of ‘fruit cup’ drink that is gin-based but can also be considered an alcoholic beverage.
In general, Pimm’s has a dark brown color with a reddish color with a subtle spicy and citrus flavor.
As a summer drink, Pimm’s is commonly served as a Pimm cocktail, an English-style lemonade topped with chopped fruit.
Pimms can also be mixed with Champagne, known as a “Pimm’s Royal Cup.” Meanwhile, Pimm’s Winter Cup is generally made with a mixture of warm apple juice.
Pimm’s is very popular in the UK, especially in the south and in the United States.
Pimm’s was first produced in 1823 by James Pimm and has now been owned by Diageo since 1997, and his famous product is Pimm’s No. 1 Cup.
James Pimm is the son of a farmer from Kent who owns an oyster bar in London.
He offers a tonic, a gin-based liquor containing a secret mixture of herbs. He served it in a small tank and was known as “No. 1 Cup ”.
Furthermore, in 1851, “Pimm’s No. 2 Cup” and “Pimm’s No. 3 Cup” were introduced.
Finally, Pimm’s started large-scale production in 1851, and the distillery began selling commercially in 1859.
Since then, the product has gained widespread popularity.
Perry is an alcoholic drink made from fermented pears, similar to apple cider.
The drink has been brewed for centuries in England, particularly in the Three Counties (Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, and Worcestershire) and South Wales.
In recent years, Perry has also been referred to as the “pear cider,” although some organizations such as CAMRA do not accept it as the name of a traditional drink.
The National Association of Cider Makers also disagrees and can create confusion.
One of the earliest known references to fermenting pears can be found on Pliny.
But furthermore, Perry’s creation appears to have become firmly established in France after the fall of the Roman Empire.
In the 16th to 17th centuries, Perry then began to earn its place in western England, where the climate and soil were favorable for the cultivation of pears where apples did not grow.
Perry production traditionally began to decline in the 20th century.
Modern Perry production is increasingly standardized and often includes added cereals such as corn syrup and sugar with high-tannin pears.
The most famous of Perry’s brands is Lambrini. It tastes like Cider, can be “funky” or sweet.
5. Prince of Wales Blend tea
Britain is famous for its tradition of drinking tea, as one of the national drinks, of course, there are many tea types in the UK.
One that is unique is the Prince of Wales Blend Tea, a ‘full body‘ black tea blend, brightly colored and with a strong aroma.
As the name implies, the tea mixture was originally made for Prince Edward of Wales and King Edward VIII.
The tea’s strong aroma comes from high-quality Keemun tea from Anhui Province, China, and other black teas. Therefore the resulting taste is very complex.
Prince Edward also permitted Twinings to sell his personal mixture using his royal title in 1921.
But nowadays, his tea is rarely circulating in the market. However, some of the Prince of Wales Blend tea products are still offered overseas.
Twinings described the tea as a blend of pure Chinese black tea that is light-colored and has a delicate taste, and is excellent brewed with or without milk.
As with most other British blended teas, actually, no one knows for sure the formula in the Prince of Wales Blend tea.
Besides Twinings, the tea is also produced overseas, such as in Germany through the company Paul Schrader GmbH & Co…
4. Builder’s tea
Builder’s tea, also known as builder’s brew, is a colloquial term in British English for a cup of strong tea.
Its name comes from the cheap tea that workers drink while resting, usually served in mugs.
The tea is made from a black tea bag with a little added milk. It is usually added with sugar, but it is optional.
Builder’s tea usually has a strong character and has a dark cream color appearance.
The tea’s name was chosen because initially, many British construction workers used to drink many cups of tea during their workday for stamina and relaxation.
So that the term was widely used throughout Great Britain and Ireland.
Also, the term Builder’s brew became famous around the early to late 1970s.
Especially at that time, Britain had a fast-growing manufacturing industry with the slogan ‘Made in Britain‘, accompanied by the emergence of the term ‘blue-collar worker.’
So as the name implies, Builder’s tea has truly become the culture of construction workers, traders, carpenters, plumbers, masons, and others.
The tea is mostly brewed in the place where they work and is used for resting.
3. Earl Grey tea
Earl Grey tea is a mixed tea that has been flavored with added bergamot oil.
Earl Grey tea is usually made from black tea, such as golden tea from China, so that the additional oil with black tea makes the taste unique.
However, Earl Grey teas are also starting to be made with stronger teas, such as Ceylon.
Other varieties have also been introduced, such as green tea or oolong.
So that initially, Earl Grey tea was intended to be drunk without milk. Now you can add milk or cream.
The Earl Grey blend is assumed to have got its name from Charles Grey, Earl Grey 2nd, a British Prime Minister in the 1830s.
He is also the author of Bill’s Reformation in 1832 and the initiator of the slavery act of 1833.
It is said that Charles Gray received a diplomatic prize in the form of tea flavored with bergamot oil.
This resulted from the end of the tea monopoly held by the East India Company due to trade competition between Britain and China.
But here is also another version of the story.
Besides the various versions of Earl Grey tea’s origin story, the name is not actually a registered trademark.
Many companies make their own versions of Earl Grey tea, like Lady Grey, Earl Green, Rooibos Earl Grey, and many more.
2. Dandelion and Burdock
Dandelion and Burdock is a drink consumed in England since medieval times. Originally a type of Mead, but later developed into a carbonated soft drink.
Currently, Dandelion and Burdock’s drink is commercially available.
Traditionally, the drink lives up to its name, made from fermented dandelion (Taraxacum Officinale) and burdock root (Arctium Lappa).
It looks caramelized. At first glance, it might look like Rootbeer or Sarsaparilla.
Its early history is not much different from a drink made from root extract with a little light fermentation.
So the taste of Dandelion and Burdock can also be said to be similar to sarsaparilla. Even recently, it started to increase in popularity.
The drink sold at many retail outlets does not actually contain the two plants but uses artificial flavorings.
But several retail outlets sell Dandelion and Burdock’s drink with its original plant extracts.
Some Dandelion and Burdock producers also make variations in flavors. Like Ben Shaw, it produces 5 flavors, original, cloudy lemonade, bitter shandy, cream soda, and root beer.
Then the Fentimans producers offer their natural versions, as well as Fitzpatrick’s producers.
1. English Breakfast Tea
English Breakfast tea is a traditional blend of black tea originating from Assam, Ceylon, and Kenya.
This tea is the most popular and common in the British tea tradition. Usually described as “full-body,” strong, and rich.
Steeping English Breakfast tea is often mixed with milk and sugar. Traditionally associated with a healthy British breakfast culture.
The black tea used in the mix varies widely, from Assamese tea to the occasional Keemun tea.
The story of the origin of English Breakfast tea has many versions.
However, drinking black tea in England and Ireland has been around for a long time.
Tea vendors introduced the term breakfast tea in at least the late 18th century. It is said that the title comes from America.
One of them is in a Journal of Commerce article that refers to 1843 and a tea merchant named Richard Davies in New York City.
Davies, a British immigrant, started with a mixture of Congou tea plus a little Pekoe and Pouchong.
Also, an American publication in 1884 noted that Bohea tea is known and traded as an English Breakfast tea.
Whereas in England, breakfast tea popularity is related to Queen Victoria in 1892 at Balmoral.
As a country with the dominant language globally, it certainly makes Great Britain an influential culture.
Besides enjoying the famous British-style tea, there are many other ways to explore the beverage from English country.