Morning Tea

One of the most noticeable differences between the work place in the United States versus the work place in Australia is that here; they have morning and afternoon tea. The first day I arrived at work they had already set aside a time for a morning tea/coffee to get to know me. I figured that it was just a onetime occurrence since it was my first day, however as I continued to work here, I realized that this was a pretty frequent event. Any training or event or presentation that lasted more than an hour or so was accompanied by either morning or afternoon tea depending on the times of the meeting. Most employees take this time to network with other areas of the business that they may not interact with very frequently. Especially in a company like this, where there is a lot of different business units that do not necessarily need to interact, this time is pretty vital to them. Tea usually consists of the opportunity to get tea/coffee in accompany with a variety of different food options. My boss and co-workers like to make me try all of the food we do not usually have in the United States and watch my reaction. So I have basically tried all the food you can possibly get at this point. I tried a sausage pie, a biscuit you basically add jam and whip cream to, the chocolate brownie-like fudge that accompanies the fruit platter they provide. My favourite was the banana bread though, so I guess you cannot really help liking things you’re familiar with. I told my co-workers that in the United States we do not generally have a morning tea type event, and they were shocked. Apparently, growing up in school you have a morning and afternoon tea, as well. It was a cultural situation that they had grown up with in school, so of course this transferred over to the work place. So it was surprising to them that we do not have a set up time for this. They actually felt it was unfair to not allot us time in our school day, twice a day, to have our tea. I explained that we generally can eat whenever we want to during the school day, obviously in college, but the same rule applied in my high school, as well. They still found that bizarre, though.
This was one of the biggest differences I noticed, so I decided to look up some information regarding how long ago this idea of morning tea was established. The first reference to morning tea dates back to the time of the Aboriginals. They drank something from the plant called the leptospermum, which is not technically classified as a tea plant. However, when Captain Cook observed the Aboriginals drinking it, he called it tea because of his British background. The plant now is collectively called the “ti tree.” Actual tea was introduced to Australia by the British when they colonized the continent. Because of its British roots, tea is a large part of Australian culture. In fact, due to Australia’s climate, they can grow and produce their own tea in northern Australia. In 1883 the first tea shop was opened by Alfred BusheThe first tea plantation was started in 1884. It was created by the Cutten brothers in Bingil Bay, which is located in northern Queensland. In 1899 this shop moved to Sydney for more business opportunities and this is where Australia’s first commercial tea seller, Bushell’s Company, was founded.
Morning Tea has also become a source of charity for Australia. They hold an annual event called “Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea” every year. This consists of millions of Australians coming together to raise money for Cancer research. It usually occurs during May or June depending on the circumstances. There is plenty of ways to participate, by either fundraising or hosting a tea or even simply attending someone else’s. Companies or individuals can sponsor a tea if they cannot attend. Attendees also have the chance to purchase mugs or tshirts and plenty of other merchandise to help in raising funds for the cause. It is essentially a chance for many people to get together for a great cause.
Some statistics regarding tea:
1. Australia consumed 14,000 tons of tea over the course of the year
2. Most tea production in Australia is minimal but it is produced in northern New South Wales and Queensland usually.
3. The most common tea produced in Australia is Black Tea, but small amounts of green tea is also produced in Victoria.

sources: http://www.biggestmorningtea.com.au/about-the-event & https://www.dfat.gov.au/facts/community_events.html

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