In the minds of most people, the two drinks most commonly associated with England are tea and beer. We drink thousands of cups of tea each day, and only slightly fewer pints.
But there are plenty of other English drinks to whet your appetite. In the middle of warm and balmy English summer there is Pimms, delicious served over ice and decorated with cucumber and apple slices, orange segments, strawberries, melon and mint.
In the depths of winter, when it's cold and damp, mulled wine or cider are there to warm and comfort you. Or how about a bowl of steaming rum punch?
Then you'll find sloe gin, elderberry wine, strawberry liqueur, mead, lemonade, cherry brandy, steaming bishop and all manner of glorious old-fashioned concoctions. Plus all the stuff you buy ready-bottled in shops like port, sherry, madeira, gin and - of course - Cider Brandy. English food is not short of recipes for a tipple or two!
Tea has to be the beverage that is most frequently associated with England in people's minds. We can't argue that we love our cuppa, whatever the time of day or whatever fate throws at us. The selection of teas available in England is staggering and still growing. Black, green and herbal teas are all available, as are traditional and specialist blends.
There's Breakfast Tea, Afternoon Tea, tea scented with bergamot oil
(Earl Grey), Kenyan Tea, Assam Tea, Darjeeling Tea ... even tea grown in
England and tea blended to suit the local water, like Yorkshire Tea. I've even recently come across Chocolate Tea, black tea flavoured with a hint of chocolate, but while it has a nice smell, I can't really get comfortable drinking that! It's great for baking with, though, gives my date and walnut loaf a very tasty start in life.
My favourites teas for drinking are Kenya (mornings and throughout the day) and Earl Grey (for a trea or late at night), but I'm not convinced I'm ever going to be proficient enough in tea to do a whole page on nothing but English tea. I suppose we have to wait and see about that.
You'll find two types of beer in an English pub. There is continental beer, or lager, which is served chilled, has a noticeable head and is pale amber in colour.
Ale is usually darker, with barely any head and is served at room temperature. There are many more varieties of ale in England than you'll be able to find lagers and they differ quite considerably in taste and strength. And with small local breweries springing up in many places, this trend can only get better.
But tea and beer are not the only 'English foods' we drink! Here's a list of some others...
Cider - a sparkling alcoholic drink made from apples - and perry - made from pears - are very refreshing if you don't fancy a beer.Of course, English summer would not be summer without Pimms, that fruit salad in a glass!
Fruit cordials and juices are popular and plentiful. And England also produces a fair share of wine! Grapes have been grown in England since Roman times and yield usually dry and off-dry whites. Recently, some vineyards have begun to produce light red wines. And if you care to look you can find some very tasty English sparkling wines!
But wine making in England is not restricted to grapes. Gardens and hedgerows yield the fruit for many a delicious fruit wine or liqueur and then, of course, there are such ultra-traditional drinks like mead and sloe gin.
And as for spirits: England has a tradition of producing gin and rum that reaches back to its naval heydays. And we turn cider into the most wonderful Cider Brandy. We've always had a taste for port and madeira wines and England's love for sherry is known to anyone who has ever read the works of Agatha Christie!