Tea was the hot drink of choice from colonial times and for most of the 20th century. Consumption was around three kilograms per person until the 1970s, when its use declined. In 1980 consumption was around two kilograms per person – the same as coffee. By the early 2000s yearly consumption was down to about one kilogram per person.
Tea companies buy tea leaf from different countries and blend it to ensure the flavour is consistent. Tea is sold either as leaf tea, or packed into teabags, which each contain about two grams of tea. Teabags were introduced to New Zealand in 1969.
I want it for the tin
During the First World War a one-pound Bell Tea tin had exactly the right dimensions to be sent to troops overseas at a special postal rate. Friends and relatives bought the tea, emptied the tins, and packed them with food and other small items to post away. Bell struggled to keep up with demand. New Zealanders at the front lines left a trail of Bell Tea tins behind them.
The Bell Tea Company was founded by Norman Harper Bell, after he arrived in Dunedin from Melbourne in 1898. Bell took over the Amber Tips brand in 1963, and the Edglets and Tiger Tea brands in 1969. In the early 2000s the Choysa and Bushell’s brands were owned by Unilever Australasia.
In the 20th century picnickers and travellers brewed tea outdoors, often boiling water from a stream nearby in a thermette – a metal container for water with a cavity underneath, in which a fire was lit.
Herbal teas are made from a wide range of plants. They grew in popularity in the 20th century. They do not contain caffeine, and many claim health benefits.
Coffee consumption increased with the arrival of European refugees and American servicemen in the 1940s. The introduction of instant coffee in the 1960s boosted its popularity further. By the 1980s, a cup of coffee usually meant ‘instant’ (80–90% of coffee sold).
The smell of coffee in the morning
In Cuba Street, Wellington, in 1926, Albert Fagg used the smell of roasting coffee to lure patrons into his shop. He also threw beans onto the footpath outside the shop, so when crushed by passers by, the delicious aroma would be released.
The use of instant coffee declined with the growth of cafés using ground coffee beans and espresso machines. The urban café culture created a big demand for freshly brewed coffee. Many new roasters were set up, and there was a proliferation of cafés and coffee kiosks in city streets.
Coffee manufacturers purchase beans grown overseas, then roast and blend them to make the desired flavours. Roasted coffee beans change from green to dark brown, and the flavours intensify. The time and temperature of the roast influences the eventual taste of the coffee. Roasted coffee beans have a shorter shelf-life than green beans, and roasting is ideally carried out close to where the coffee will be drunk. Beans are packaged and sold either whole or pre-ground.
Instant coffee is made by extracting coffee from the ground beans with hot water then freeze- or spray-drying to obtain the powder.