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The British are the largest per capita tea consumers in the world, with each person consuming on average 2.5 kg per year. The popularity of tea dates back to the 19th century when India was part of the British Empire, and British interests controlled tea production in the subcontinent. It was, however, first introduced in Britain by Catherine of Braganza, queen consort of Charles II of England in the 1660s and 1670s. As tea spread throughout the United Kingdom people started to have tea gardens and tea dances. These would include watching fireworks or a dinner party and dance, concluding with a nice evening tea. The tea gardens lost value after World War II but tea dances are still held today in the United Kingdom.
Tea is usually black tea served with milk (never cream) and sometimes with sugar. Strong tea served with lots of milk and often two teaspoons of sugar, usually in a mug, is commonly referred to as builder's tea. Much of the time in the United Kingdom, tea drinking is not the delicate, refined cultural expression that the rest of the world imagines—a cup (or commonly a mug) of tea is something drunk often, with some people drinking as many as 6 or more cups of tea a day. This is not to say that the British do not have a more formal tea ceremony, but for the working class of the United Kingdom, tea breaks are an essential part of any day. Employers generally allow breaks for tea and sometimes biscuits to be served.