Cassiefairy's thrifty lifestyle blog

Cassiefairy's thrifty little lifestyle blog – DIY crafts, sewing, food & fashion – what more does a girl need??


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Time for a Cuppa ~ Britain’s Tea Break Tradition

As a reader of this little lifestyle blog, I’m sure that you’ll know how much I love tea. I can’t get through the day with quite a few tasty cuppas and you can read about my nightmare day when my kettle died here. So today, I thought we’d discuss the tradition of the tea break and how important the great British cuppa is to all of us!

Though the coffee market has grown in Britain, with global espresso chains springing up on nearly every corner, tea remains the country’s drink of choice. As a nation, we consume 78 million mugs of tea every day and over half of us still prefer it over coffee in the morning. In offices across the UK, the ‘tea break’ plays a vital role in the daily routine. How did this ritual begin? Does it add value to our lives? Here’s a brief guide to the tea break tradition:

Cup of tea and a broken kettle

History of Tea in Britain
Tea may be the nation’s favourite drink today, but it was once a luxury item enjoyed only by the wealthy. The tea-drinking trend began among the aristocracy after Queen Catherine of Braganza, King Charles II’s wife, brought the tradition to Britain from her native Portugal.

It’s interesting to note that up until the 17th century, tea was always green when brewed, following the natural colour of the leaves. However, the process of oxidising the leaves preserved them better for exporting from China to Europe, also turning the leaves black. Today of course, green tea is nearly as popular in this country as black tea, along with many other herbal varieties.

But it was only in the late 18th-century that tea became affordable for the masses. In 1785, the British government cut the tax on tea in order to abolish the growing illegal tea smuggling trade. As tea prices fell, more and more Britons were able to enjoy the beverage on a routine basis. Employers began offering free tea to their workers as an incentive – and thus the tradition of a workday ‘tea break’ began.

Tes-Gro Cup of Tea image by Kanko 53310292_30bf6ac4aa_z

Image by Kanko, used under Creative Comms license

More or Less Productive?
The average cup of black tea contains 14-61 mg of caffeine, providing the ideal boost of energy during a long work day. However, with the average adult spending 24 minutes a day fetching colleagues teas and coffees and costing their employer £400 a year, it begs the question: is the tea break good or bad for productivity?

Well, despite absorbing so much of our time, the ritual tea break is most certainly a positive influence on productivity. The importance of rest and social engagement during the workday cannot be overstated. Time and again researchers have discovered that regular rest breaks help people recharge and work more efficiently.

Oh Crumbs!
Most good things come with some element of risk, and you might be surprised just how risky a tea break can be. As the Telegraph reported in 2010, approximately 25 million adults have sustained an injury during a tea or coffee break. Most of the injuries were a result of dangerous dunking techniques – with a third of those surveyed admitting they’ve burnt themselves trying to retrieve a fallen biscuit from the scalding liquid.

Despite these tales of tea trauma, the UK’s tea break tradition does not appear to be going anywhere any time soon. A ritual steeped in history, the ‘cuppa’ remains the hottest item in Britain’s beverage culture.


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Get a new autumn/winter look for a fraction of the price…

And I’m not even being cheeky – the easiest way to update your wardrobe for Autumn/Winter is to put on a pair of tights! And if it’s really cold, add a cardi. You’ll be able to continue wearing your cute Spring/Summer dresses and won’t have to worry about your legs turning a less-than-attractive shade of blue in the chilly winter breeze. So which tights are the best? Well, this season we are seeing a lot of autumnal hues such as these below, (try Tights Please for similar rustic shade) which look best paired with cute flat pumps or low-heeled boots. 

Camel-long-odette-et-odile-boots-dark-brown-mini-dofamily-dress-red-short-ad_400  Vintage-ferragamo-shoes-vintage-coat-hue-tights_400  Light-brown-blowfish-shoes-boots-navy-swap-dress-black-hue-tights_400

Another trend that is hitting the high street this autumn is cable-knit tights which are available for bargain prices from Primark and F&F at Tesco under a fiver, along with these gorgeous grey knitted tights below from ASOS, River Island & Pretty Polly:

French Connection Mini <em>Cable Knitted Tights</em> GreyPretty Polly Chevron <em>Cable Knit</em> Winter <em>Tights</em> Grey Marl

I’ll definitely be getting a pair of these to spruce up my winter clothing! Let me know what you’re planning to do to update your wardrobe for the new season and if you find any bargain tights please share the link below :)


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Recipe – Make your own stir-fry mix

Frozen stir fry mix can be expensive, and fresh veg can be pricier still. But I have a top tip for making your own stir-fry mix, which I’ve been busy doing this week: freeze-your-own!

I  visiting my local Tesco in the evening for quick shop and was lucky enough to have arrived at the right time for their price-reductions hitting rock bottom. This usually happens an hour or two before the store closes every day (but if your local supermarket opens 24 hours, the only time it’d be good to go is on a Sunday afternoon!) and there are some great bargains to be had on the fresh veg section. I was delighted to be able to pick up bags of peppers, courgettes and spring onions for literally pence, and only worried about the quantity that I’d bought when I got home and had nowhere to store it! And it wasn’t going to stay fresh for long, as it was fast approaching its best-before date.

So I had a look in my mother-in-law’s home-preserving book and discovered that all of these vegetables could be prepared and frozen without the extra effort of blanching or pre-cooking. So I sliced up my veg and laid it in a single layer on a baking tray and popped in the freezer until the veg was thoroughly frozen. I then mixed the peppers, courgettes and spring onions together and put them in portion-sized plastic tubs (the contains that my takeaway comes in – recycling, hurrah!).

So now I have perfect 2-person portions of stir-fry veg mix and also (due to the quantity of veg I’d bought) I also varied my chopping to include some diced veg mix which will be great for adding into a Bolognese or chilli con carne. And these can all be added to the meal straight from the freezer. I’ve tried a portion of stir-fry mix already and found that the peppers actually softened and cooked more quickly from frozen than they would from fresh, so I’m happy with that!