Over the past few days I have been asking every teenager I have met what staple foods and drinks they would not be able to live without (not literally) and then giving them choices they had to pick from. The results were actually quite unanimous but not all that surprising (well for me) and I think certain big companies should take note of this as they may have found new target consumers.

The food of choice was the potato and the drink of choice was a cup of tea. ImageYes, that’s right, I asked 36 teenage boys and 27 teenage girls whether they would give up tea or alcohol if they could only live with one and 73% said they’d give up alcohol. This was a very small sample scale and may well just apply to Durham University students but I found it surprising (and very British, though these results may be biased by the 2012 year of the jubilee, Olympics and general Britishness) that teenagers these days would pick a cuppa over an alcoholic substance that seems to be central to so many of their surges of confidences and nights out.

I’m not surprised at all about the potato as that is a staple, and the source of chips and jackey p’s and all heavenly foods that are fundamental to teenager self catering. But the first choice of Tea! I’ve noticed that there has been less marketing over stopping binge drinking (it looks like it’s shifted more towards adults who habitually drink every night rather than binging on the weekend) but I hadn’t realised that there had been such a shift in preferences. As I said, this may all just be a total coincidence to the teenagers that I interact with who might just be abnormal teenagers with inner old granny personalities but the more that I think about it, the more that I think that yes actually, the teenager may be the actual core consumer for tea than the stereotypical granny or housewife or builder.Image

Now that my year group is now longer living together in college/halls and in separate houses/flats all over town, we generally do invite people round for a cup of tea and in the times of procrastination or just getting ready to start work or have a fry up, the tea is the first staple. When you look more into it too, the effects of having a good cuppa can be more enticing (and a lot more cheaper) than those of alcohol which usually comes with more regret anyway.

I have a previous post about the place that popcorn is beginning to play in our teenage lives, and now I can add to that and say that Tea is making a comeback. It might be to do with this whole massive surge in Britishness and patriotism but I think it’s more to do with people subconsciously realising how much they love and crave a good cup of hot tea. I will openly admit that I am a tea addict and I think that it is great that now it can be cool to be an addict for what used to not be thought of as a ‘cool’ chemical.

I haven’t even touched upon the ritual of tea making, the different types and all that jazz but the fact that it encompasses all of this not to mention the social cohesion that tea brings shows how fundamental it is to our daily lives. I think we may need to have a proper subcategory for Anthropology now, all the usual besides, just dedicated to food and drink. Maybe that can be my speciali-tea.

Tea and Potatoes

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3 thoughts on “Tea and Potatoes

  1. Bret Hampton says:

    Hey, stumbled upon your blog via the anthropologytoday.ning site and found it interesting. I’m an undergrad anthropologist as well, though of a slightly older age bracket, so it’s nice to see healthy interest and enthusiasm in the field. Just thought I’d say that there is a healthy field of anthropology of food (hmmm…that’s a bad pun), with some great work done on food rituals. Some of my favourite are the Sake rituals, and yumcha in Hong Kong. As well as various beer rituals among the Xhosa.

  2. […] sources: The Raddish / Oyvegan / NPR / West Word / NY Times / Teenthropologist Header/Thumbnail source: Steel […]

  3. Aysenaz says:

    I love tea too, but im use only for weight loss (sorry for my bad english)

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