Being British Is a Lot More than Tea and Scones


Photo by: Bobby Brown


Have you ever met a British person? Did you ask them if they’re from London or how much tea they drink or if they know the Queen?

I was an international student before I regained my California residency. Being California born and England raised, I’ve heard many typicalities once it has been made known that I lived there for 16 years; I was often asked if I was Australian or from the East Coast when my accent was stronger. Although debunking most most stereotypes would be the most pleasurable, a few do hold some truth!

One of the biggest confusions is what the UK is Britain. The United Kingdom and England are not the same thing; and it’s technically called the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. In layman’s terms, the United Kingdom is composed of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Great Britain is majorly England, Scotland and Wales; excluding most of the small islands on the outskirts. Ireland is not one, but two different countries; the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Secondly, London is not England! London is the capital and it’s pretty big. England’s size is always underestimated; however, it is somewhat smaller than California. It’s one of many amazing places, but is, undoubtedly, the biggest tourist area, packed full of sightseeing destinations, markets, museums, galleries, concert venues etc.

Many think that the British live in expensive and lavish old-style homes. This is the biggest “unfortunately” of all, they don’t all live in fancy manors or live in beautiful remote countryside cottages with cobblestone paths that lead to the Queen’s home where they drink tea and and eat scones together. Depending on where you live, most of the houses are small semi-detached two-story houses and compared to Fresno, the houses in my home town are tiny in comparison.

Just like the US, there are regional accents. Whenever I meet new people, I’m always asked to say “water” in a British accent and I’m then quizzed on Cockney slang. Britons don’t really speak cockney slang anymore and we don’t all sound like Eliza Doolittle from “My Fair Lady”. Maybe you’ll hear it from the old blokes at the pub, but the slang itself is not really a thing anymore.

Now onto the biggest stereotype–tea. Tea is often a staple within most British homes. I’d be lying if I said the rumors weren’t true. Although not everyone loves tea, it’s by far one of the most truthful stereotypes. It’s practically impossible to find no tea in the average household, it would result in anarchy! If you can make a good cuppa, then we’ll be the best of friends! They also don’t always have scones with tea…but there are biscuits, which I suppose could be classed as really dry cookies.

Another common misconception is the difference between drinking tea and going to someone’s house for tea; the latter is another way of phrasing that you’re going to someone’s house for dinner; however you can also go to someone’s house to drink tea… But if there’s tea with tea then I’d happily oblige!

The next one is about as bizarre as saying all Americans drink a beer with Barack Obama on the regular. No, the British are not all friends with the Queen and unfortunately, no, they do not have tea and scones with her Majesty.

The Brits are always pinned as having bad teeth thanks to the likes of Austin Powers. The dental issues are trickier to define. If you put it on a scale of Hollywood pearly whites to Hillbilly, it would justifiably place in the middle. It’s not as much of an issue as it was 20 odd years ago, but not entirely untrue.

Americans often think of the British as notoriously introverted, rude and dry-humored, which in general would also not be entirely untrue…when compared to the average American. It’s harder to appreciate a stereotypical British personality if you haven’t spent much time around it to understand it fully, but they’re not all that different! Generally speaking, Brits aren’t quite as outspoken or outgoing in the same way that Americans are.

Lastly, Britain is notorious for terrible food! I can agree to an extent, but it does depend on where you eat. Asking locals where the best places are will be a tourist’s best bet. England has good Indian food and there’s always the local fish and chip shops scattered across town. Plus, nothing beats a good fry-up (or full English breakfast, if you please) from your local cafe to nurse the aftermath of drinking too much at the pub.