Daltai na Gaeilge
Proverbs

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Marbh le tae agus marbh gan é.

Dead with tea and dead without it.

Note: This week's proverb is testimony to the indisputable fact that the Irish are mad for tea. Citizens of the Irish Republic drink more tea than anyone else in the world. Every man, women, and child drinks about six cups of tea a day on average, consuming about 3.2 kilograms (7 pounds) per year. That is over 20% more tea consumed than the average British tea drinker. Moreover, Irish tea consumption is currently increasing while British tea consumption is declining. America, which revolted against England because of the British tax on tea, drinks eight times less per capita than the Irish.

Annual Per Capita Consumption of Tea
In Kilograms

Country 1987-89 1988-90 1989-91 1990-92 1991-93 1993-95 average
Ireland
3.00
3.09
3.14
3.00
3.17
3.21
3.10
United Kingdom
2.81
2.74
2.65
2.56
2.62
2.53
2.65
Turkey
2.64
2.33
2.08
2.25
2.15
2.08
2.26
Kuwait
2.12
1.73
1.18
0.99
1.79
2.52
1.72
Iran 
1.62
1.63
1.83
1.74
1.46
1.66
Iraq 
2.54
2.23
1.24
0.53
1.64
New Zealand
1.59
1.58
1.54
1.51
1.38
1.23
1.47
Syria
1.15
1.36
1.36
1.36
1.66
1.55
1.41
Egypt
1.32
1.39
1.32
1.40
1.25
1.04
1.29
Saudi Arabia 
1.17
1.14
1.16
1.24
1.00
0.82
1.09
Australia 
1.12
1.07
1.01
0.96
0.96
0.96
1.01
Japan 
0.97
0.97
0.99
1.02
1.04
1.03
1.00
Pakistan 
0.93
0.95
0.99
0.97
0.99
0.95
0.96
Russia 
0.97
1.10
1.15
0.90
0.73
0.63
0.91
Chile 
0.86
0.85
0.87
0.88
0.89
0.97
0.89
Poland 
0.87
0.78
0.64
0.58
0.69
0.87
0.74
Netherland 
0.65
0.66
0.67
0.66
0.63
0.58
0.64
Canada 
0.55
0.53
0.51
0.49
0.49
0.48
0.51
U.S.A. 
0.34
0.34
0.33
0.33
0.34
0.35
0.34
Germany
0.24
0.23
0.24
0.20
0.22
0.21
0.22
France
0.18
0.19
0.19
0.20
0.21
0.22
0.20
Italy 
0.06
0.07
0.08
0.08
0.09
0.09
0.08
International Tea Committee, Ltd., Annual Bulletin of Statistics; Tea Brokers' Publications, London (1995)

The Irish lust for tea comes from the British. Originally, all tea came to Ireland from the East India Company, a British trading company established under Queen Elizabeth I in 1600. In 1835, Charles Bewley broke that monopoly when he landed a ship in Dublin with over 2000 chests of tea from Canton. While the monopoly was broken, the Irish continued to buy tea exclusively from British concerns until World War II. In response to the British rationing of tea, the Irish government formed a private company, Tea Importers (Éire) to satisfy their thirst. The Irish Tea Act of 1958 granted this firm a monopoly franchise, not unlike the East India Company. This franchise had to be abolished in 1973 so that Ireland could enter the European Economic Community.

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