Rich Tea biscuits. Never the most exciting biscuit in the tin, and frequently last one left on the shelf, they nevertheless make a tasty snack and the perfect understated accompaniment to a cup of tea for those days when something chocolatey is just too much. Rumour has it that the Queen herself is partial to a Rich Tea biscuit, so if it’s good enough for Her Royal Highness then we’ll take it. It even has the honour of forming the base of one of Her Majesty’s favourite chocolate biscuit cakes.
The Rich Tea is a round disc-shaped biscuit, typically measuring about 84mm in diameter. Most Rich Tea biscuits come in blue-coloured packaging, possibly as a result of supermarkets looking to associate their own-brand products with the classic McVitie’s original. They have the words “RICH TEA” stamped across the central belt of the biscuit, with “ROUND” and “BISCUIT” being written along a circular path above and below the centre. They feature a number of holes in the biscuit surface to allow steam to escape during the baking process and giving the biscuit its distinctive snap when broken. Classic Rich Teas have twelve holes arranged in an outer ring, with a further ten holes in the centre, five each above and below the title.
Rich Tea Ingredients
Rich teas develop their sweetness from a range of sugars in the bake, with a single biscuit containing fewer than 40 calories.
The official McVitie’s Rich Tea ingredient list contains:
- Flour (Wheat Flour, Calcium, Iron, Niacin, Thiamin)
- Vegetable Oil (Sunflower)
- Glucose-Fructose Syrup
- Barley Malt Extract
- Raising Agents (Sodium Bicarbonate, Ammonium Bicarbonate)
History of Rich Tea Biscuits
Like many popular biscuits in the UK, Rich Tea biscuits were invented by the McVitie’s company. Rich Teas were originally called simply Tea Biscuits and were developed to act as a palate-cleansing snack between courses of an evening meal. The precise date of origin is unknown, but in 1891 the size of the original Rich Tea Biscuit was reduced in diameter by McVitie’s in order to accommodate the smaller, more delicate tastes of Londoners. The biscuit has remained largely unchanged ever since. Whilst we’ve yet to come across a poor tea biscuit, the “Rich” in the title is said to refer to the sugar content of the biscuit, as this would have made it a luxury item back in the nineteenth century.
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2 thoughts on “Rich Tea Biscuits”
I was interested to read that Rich Tea biscuits were invented by McVities.
In 1966 I joined United Biscuits as a salesman. At that time the company’s two sales teams operated quite separately. My Division known as MCM sold Macdonalds brands like Penguin, Bandits and toffee and mint Yo-Yo’s. The C’ referred to Crawfords, also part of United Biscuits. Their most popular biscuit brand was Crawford’s Rich Tea and their range also included a number of shortbread products.
The final ‘M’ was a reference to products from Scottish biscuit and cake maker Macfarlane Lang, their most popular biscuit product was the Granola Digestive. The other Sales team sold all McVities products including the ever popular Jaffa Cakes.
Shortly after I left United Biscuits c1970, The sales teams were merged and in recent years Macdonald’s Penguin biscuits, Crawford’s Rich Tea and Granola Digestives were repackaged and those products, and more, are now sold under the McVitie’s label.
As I write this, United Biscuits is currently under Turkish ownership and their range also includes Jacobs and Carr’s biscuits. Our ‘arch enemies’ back in the day, we would often ‘fight’ their salesmen for shelf space in the popular supermarkets. 😊
Recently, I was intrigued to find clearly labelled Crawford’s Rich Tea biscuits in familiar blue packaging in Iceland Stores here in the UK.
I’m open to correction but, I reckon, William
Crawford & Sons, founded in Leith, near Edinburgh in 1813, ‘invented’ the Rich Tea biscuit.
Richtea now contains PALM OIL! Won’t be buying anymore.