Tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world after water.
In the United States alone, it can be found in near to 80% of households. And on any given day, close to 159 million Americans are drinking tea.
It may come as a shock, given the apparent dominance of coffee in not just films and TV but society in general. Tea has been apart of several famous films and scenes, some of which include Mary Poppins, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Get Out and even Bronson.
Below is a list of ten films for all you tea-lovers out there.
This lost Peruvian bear turned English gent has been a household name in the UK since his debut in the late 1950s. While sitting on a suitcase in a train station wearing a note that reads, “Please look after this bear. Thank you”, Paddington is taken in by the well-to-do Brown family who attempt to smarten him up and make him a regular citizen of society.
There’s scene in the first Paddington live-action film where he and Mr Brown visit a tea-room. Paddington encourages Mr Brown to attempt to say his name in bear talk while he stuffs his face with a platter of cakes and tea, which he necks straight from the pot.
The next time we saw Paddington with tea was in a special meeting with the late Queen Elizabeth II to commemorate her platinum jubilee. In the video, which gained a lot of traction after her passing, Paddington and Her Maj enjoy a brew in the splendour of Buckingham Palace. Pleasantries are exchanged, marmalade sandwiches are lifted from handbags, it’s all very quaint.
Tea-aside, Paddington is a film definitely worth your time.
Tea might not be something you associate with “Britain’s most violent prisoner” Charles Bronson, but the pseudo-biopic of him from 2009 features a popular tea-making scene.
Halfway into the film, Bronson can be seeing pushing a trolley carrying various tea-related paraphernalia into a kitchen area with a prison guard. “That’s an impressive set of guns you have there, you must be handy in a brawl,” another inmate named Paul says as Bronson prepares a mug of black tea for him. “Very nice.”
Bronson assumes a boxing stance in response to Paul’s pompous, snide rhetoric. He sips the tea and leaves the room, with Bronson’s hands still raised in battle. It’s a brief but unforgettable scene, layered with tension.
Both of these men are troublemakers in very different ways. Physically worlds apart, but mentally similar.
Coffee and Cigarettes (2003)
“Don’t you know caffeine can cause serious delirium?” says RZA, of the Wu-Tang Clan, in Jim Jarmusch’s 2003 film Coffee and Cigarettes. A series of vignettes starring various celebrities playing themselves, the likes of Iggy Pop and Steve Coogan sit around drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes.
In “Delirium”, however, GZA and RZA sit in a café drinking caffeine-free herbal tea. Served by a chain smoking, coffee-slurping Bill Murray, they chastise his diet, listing the problems he’s putting himself at risk of by drinking so much caffeine.
“Before I gave that up,” GZA reflects, “I used to drink it every night. Every single night up until it was time to go to sleep just to make me dream faster. You know like when they flash those cameras on them Indy 500 cars? That’s how my dreams were. Just whizzing by.”
Unlike other films on this list, Coffee and Cigarettes is a film directly about hot beverages and the conversations and mood they can dictate.
Get Out (2017)
Tea, or rather the appearance and stirring of tea, plays a major part in the development of Jordan Peele’s social thriller Get Out. Around thirty minutes into the film, Chris (played by Daniel Kaluuya) is accosted by his girlfriend’s therapist mother Missy in the living room their family home after nipping outside to smoke a cigarette.
Missy manages to entrap Chris into a psychoanalytic session, partly because he feels guilty about smoking around Missy’s daughter, and partly because Missy herself is secretly hypnotising him by methodically stirring a cup of black tea.
The longer the conversation goes, which ends up concerning Chris’ own mother who died when he was a child, the more upset he becomes. ““You can’t move. You’re paralyzed,” Missy says. “Just like that day when you did nothing. You did nothing. Now … sink into the floor. Sink.”
With that, Chris slides down through the chair into a dark void, floating in nothingness as a tiny screen of the outside world hovers high above. This is what became known as “the Sunken Place”, a fugue state of hopelessness where the voices of black America are forever drowned out.
Shaun of the Dead (2004)
You could argue, that prior to the release of Shaun of the Dead, foreign audiences were never hip to the idea of tea in England being anything other than a pastime of the suave and sophisticated.
In the much memed, much GIF’d, plan of action montage in Edgar Wright’s 2004 zombie comedy, Shaun (played by Simon Pegg) posits that their gang of survivors “go over to Liz’s place, hole up, have a cup of tea and wait for this whole thing to blow over.” After being prodded with flaws, the plan then changes multiple times — the only constant being the tea. Until they decide to visit the Winchester and have a pint instead…
The point remains, in Shaun of the Dead, we have a far more realistic representation of tea, and how and where 99% of the country consumes it. Unless your family are heirs to the Twinings fortune, drinking tea is a casual, virtually cost-free affair done in the comfort of you or your friend’s home.
Even if tea isn’t your bag, you should still watch this brilliant film.
Mary Poppins (1964)
Mary Poppins is perhaps the most British film ever made. It would very, very odd if tea was not a part of it. It would be like Titanic without the iceberg.
The film, adapted by Disney from a series of books by Pl Travers, tells the tale of a magical English nanny called Mary Poppins who is blown into the air and plopped in the Banks household where she sets about taking care of the two children.
During her stay she comes across a few eccentrics, namely Bert, the jack of all trades cockney played by the very not-cockney Dick Van Dyke. In one scene, Mary joins Bert and the children in a tea party being suspended in the air.
Like Paddington, the legacy of Mary Poppins, its quintessential Englishness, has influenced hundreds of Poppins-themed tea parties and collectibles.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)
“What kind of tea do you want?” Ramona asks Scott during their “sleepover”. A simple question that bemuses the latter.
“There’s more than one kind?” he asks.
Ramona continues: “We have blueberry, raspberry, ginseng, sleepy time, green tea, green tea with lemon, green tea with lemon and honey, liver disaster, ginger with honey, ginger without honey, vanilla almond, white truffel, blueberry chamomile, vanilla walnut, constant comment and… earl grey.”
It’s a nice send up of the often idiosyncratic variety of tea on the planet. Although liver disaster tea does sound intriguing, you may be hard pressed to find some in your local supermarket.
Alice in Wonderland (2010)
When Alice in Wonderland started out life as a novel in the Victorian age, tea parties were a strict and revered social activity, a formal gathering of the upper classes who could sip the finest brew and sample a slice of cake to unwind. In Lewis Carroll’s beloved story of a young girl falling through a rabbit hole into a strange, fantasy world, the tea party is anything but formal.
Here in Wonderland, a place where animals are anthropomorphised, there is no typical upper class, no snootiness. Chaos is embraced and encouraged, even in the naïve Alice. The only source of stability in this entire world is the tea itself, which makes for a captivating scene.
Of course, the irony is the cultural impression made by the Mad Hatters tea party has spawned several institutions to host Alice in Wonderland themed tea parties, which tend to have more in common with the formal, social elite tea parties of yesteryear. The Sanderson Hote, for example, offers a Mad Hatter Tea experience, with kings and queens on the teapots; Grow Me, Shrink Me, Bring Me Back glittery potions, Tweedle Brothers Choux Pastry, Red Knight Army Shortbread Cookies, and scones with strawberry preserve and clotted cream.
Though it’s unsure what exact tea the Mad Hatter and co are drinking in the novel or it’s movie adaptations, there are Alice in Wonderland specific tea blends you can buy if you fancy hosting a party of your own!
Inglourious Basterds (2009)
In Quentin Tarantino’s explosive reimagining of Nazism, Inglourious Basterds — as with most of his films — food and drink serve a bigger purpose than mere props. They are sometimes key to the plot.
Take the scene in Chez Maurice’s restaurant. Col Hands Landa (played by Christoph Waltz) invites Shoshanna (Melanie Laurent) to dine with him, recommending the strudel. At the time of WWII, puff pastries were often made with lard thanks to butter shortages. Shoshanna is being discreetly tested to see if she’s Jewish by Hans, who is either unsure and curious to know, or is sure and wants to see her eat non-kosher food for the sheer cruel sake of it.
Alongside the pastries, are several drinks, among them espresso, milk, and tea.
This may exactly be a “cosy tea movie” but it’s one you shouldn’t miss.
The Great Gatsby (2013)
F Scott Fitzgerald’s iconic novella The Great Gatsby is one those seemingly “unfilmable” books that has been adapted umpteen times to no avail. However, in 2013 Baz Luhrmann of Moulin Rouge and Romeo + Juliet fame got his hands on it and managed lift that curse.
The reason this particular adaptation worked better than the others that came before it? The addition of a tea party, obviously.
What makes the tea party scene so pivotal in The Great Gatsby is that it’s the first time we see the hedonistic and bombastic Jay Gatsby undone by real emotion, the love he has for Daisy. Prior to her arrival he is a nervous wreck, completely unfitting with the serene setting of tea and macaroons.
This film, with its atmospheric East Coast setting, its rainy days and focus on high society, makes it perfect viewing for tea lovers across the world.