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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