"I'll Put the Kettle On": Big Smile Tea Party Launches

To mark the launch of the Big Smile Tea Party, we've surveyed 2,000 people across the UK, to find out just how much a cup of tea means to us as a nation.

Big Smile Tea Party logo



of Brits say being made a cuppa is the ultimate display of kindness


say chilling on the sofa with family is the perfect tea-drinking setting


like to ‘put the world to rights’ when sharing a cuppa with loved ones


of us are offended by a bad cup of tea – which could be often, considering over two fifths (44%) of us are not making tea correctly.

UK's Top 10

guilty tea-making habits include not leaving the bag to brew, using the tea bag twice & using a dirty mug

Thursday, 30 March 2023: To mark the launch of their flagship annual fundraiser, the Big Smile Tea Party, global cleft charity, Smile Train UK commissioned Censuswide to survey 2,000 people across the UK, to find out just how much a cup of tea means to us as a nation.

The findings have revealed over half (55%) of respondents said a freshly brewed cuppa always makes them smile, and just under two thirds (65%) view putting the kettle on is a feeling of national comfort.

Over half (56%) of respondents also stated that being made a cup of tea is the ultimate display of kindness, and seven in ten (70%) believe that a good cup of tea can bring people together.

A feeling of comfort, but also of health – Smile Train UK’s survey found just under two thirds of respondents state that a cup of tea can relieve feelings of stress (62%), and that catching up with friends over a cuppa can improve their mental wellbeing (65%).

The Big Smile Tea Party is an annual campaign which encourages people to host a tea party (in person or virtual) with friends, family, or colleagues, whilst raising vital funds for Smile Train UK - the world’s largest cleft charity. All donations will help to provide life-saving cleft surgery and comprehensive cleft care for children around the world.

When it comes to the most enjoyable tea-drinking settings, Smile Train UK found the three most popular scenarios were:

  • “Chilling at home on the sofa with family” (35%)
  • “After a walk outside” (22%)
  • When it’s been “made by a loved one” (24%)

*Top 10 in notes to editors

And when asked when they have most appreciated a cup of tea, a high proportion of respondents said, “after a hard day at work” (35%), “after a shock” (17%), and even “after giving birth” (10%).

The survey also quizzed respondents on what they are most likely to talk about over a cuppa with friends and family, revealing that “putting the world to rights” is the most popular topic for a natter (26%). Discussing “upcoming plans”, “current affairs”, “the latest TV/Netflix series” and “holiday plans” also ranked highly.

**Top 10 in notes to editors

Given the effect that tea has on our health and happiness, it’s unsurprising to learn that more than two fifths (21%) of survey respondents said that they are offended if they are offered a bad cup of tea. And this could be more common than you might think, looking at more of Smile Train UK’s findings.

After quizzing respondents on their typical tea-making process, the global cleft charity has found that over two fifths (44%) are not making tea correctly by British standards – with a large portion of people leading with the milk or hot water first.

To add to this, the survey respondents admitted to some guilty tea-making habits, including not letting the tea bag brew for long enough (23%), using the same spoon for tea and coffee (17%), and rinsing a dirty mug and reusing it (13%).

***Top 10 in notes to editors

Ian Vallance, Director of Smile Train UK, said:

A cleft is the most common facial difference globally, affecting around 1 in 700 babies. Being born with a cleft can cause difficulties eating, breathing, hearing, and speaking. Yet the solution is simple, and the impact is immediate.

We’re encouraging people all over the world to invite friends and family over for a Big Smile Tea Party, asking them to donate the cost of a cuppa to help fund lifesaving surgery and comprehensive cleft care for children in need around the world.

This research has proved just how much our nation loves a cuppa, so make the most of our love for tea and help change the world, one smile at a time.

The Big Smile Tea Party kicks off on Thursday 30 March and runs throughout April. Sign up and download your fundraising pack on the Big Smile Tea Party website.


Notes to editors:

About the data

Survey of 2,000 nationally representative respondents in the UK by Censuswide in between 09.03.23 – 13.03.23

For supporting imagery, please use this link

*Top ten occasions we most enjoy drinking tea

  1. Chilling at home on the sofa with family (35%)
  2. When it’s made by a loved one (24%)
  3. After a walk outside (22%)
  4. After a hard day at work (21%)
  5. When it’s brought to me in bed (16%)
  6. When I’m at work (16%)
  7. When I’m out meeting friends (15%)
  8. Just before bed (14%)
  9. When I visit my parents (13%)
  10. When I’m on holiday (8%)

**Top ten topics of conversation with friends and family over a cup of tea

  1. Putting the world to rights (26%)
  2. Upcoming plans (24%)
  3. Current affairs (23%)
  4. My child/children (20%)
  5. The latest TV/Netflix series I’m watching (19%)
  6. Holiday planning (18%)
  7. My Pet (15%)
  8. Good/bad films I have recently seen (15%)
  9. My hobbies (13%)
  10. Something I have recently learnt (12%)

***Top ten bad tea making habits

  1. Not letting the tea bag brew for long enough (23%)
  2. Using the same spoon for tea and coffee (17%)
  3. Rinsing a dirty mug and using this (13%)
  4. Using the tea bag twice (12%)
  5. Not waiting for the kettle to boil (10%)
  6. Using the wrong milk (8%)
  7. Giving my friend, family member or colleague the worst mug (8%)
  8. Making a bad cup of tea so I’m not asked again (7%)
  9. Using a decaf teabag when I have run out of caffeinated ones (7%)
  10. Offering people a cup of tea at the end of a dinner party – when I want them to leave (7%)

About Smile Train

Smile Train is the largest cleft-focused charity, empowering local medical professionals with training, funding, and resources to provide free cleft surgery and comprehensive cleft care to children globally.

We advance a sustainable solution and scalable global health model for cleft treatment, drastically improving children’s lives, including their ability to eat, breathe, speak, and ultimately thrive.

To learn more about how Smile Train's sustainable approach means donations have both an immediate and long-term impact, please visit our website.

For more information, please contact the Smile Train UK press office by emailing smiletrain@thephagroup.com or Emily Oliver eoliver@smiletrain.org.