Disney's 'Time for Tea': a Look at Disney’s Tea Obsession, One Cup at a Time
Nestling down with a cup of tea to watch a Disney classic is a match-made in heaven. But have you ever noticed how potty Disney characters are about their brews?
Look closely, and you’ll find a teapot or a teacup cropping up in many of the Disney Classics. By closely examining the Disney films, we isolated the twelve most tea mad movies.
We can reveal which have the most (and longest) tea scenes, which characters drink, pour or talk about tea the most and which films feature the most teapots and teacups.
Tea Around the Disney World
What is America’s perception of Britain? Watch a Disney movie and you’ll soon find out: nothing is more sacred to an English character than their tea!
‘Tea time’ is a core plot-point of many British-based films, like 101 Dalmations, Mary Poppins and the Sword in the Stone. In fact, half of the top ten tea-mad movies are based in ‘old Blighty’.
Otherwise, films across the channel in France also feature a lot of tea, and tea sets appear in China, West Africa and the US.
Tea-break: which films have the highest number of tea scenes?
We examined all the Disney classics and totted up the number of scenes where characters appear drinking, pouring or talking about tea. Which Disney classics have the most, and most memorable, ‘Tea Scenes’?
Think of a Disney tea scene and your mind probably jumps to the Mad Hatter sequence in Alice in Wonderland. However, you may be surprised to learn that Mary Poppins, Mulan and Beauty and the Beast have just as many tea-based scenes as Alice in Wonderland.
Mary Poppins has one of the most memorable scenes: a tea-party on the ceiling! In fact, the host of this tea-party, Uncle Albert, is played by Ed Wynn, the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland.
The award for the most calamitous tea ceremonies easily goes to Mulan. Who knew one broken teapot and a spilt cup of tea could bring shame upon an entire family?
But hold on, if two characters in Beauty and the Beast are a teapot and a teacup, how does the movie not have far more relevant scenes? Turns out, Mrs Potts and Chip slacked off their main duty in the film as only two cups of tea were poured and drunk in the entire film’s duration.
‘Time for Tea’: Which Films Have the Longest Tea Scenes?
Mary Poppins, Alice and her sister, and Nanny in 101 Dalmations all remind the others it is ‘tea time’ or ‘time for tea’. Taking this cue quite literally, how much time in these Disney films is taken up by drinking tea?
Alice in Wonderland has the longest tea scenes, racking up over 12 minutes of hot-tea content. The Mad Hatter’s tea party is the most iconic, but the Mad Hatter also lays out an impressive table of tea for the Queen of Hearts and Alice falls through a hot teacup in one of the final scenes.
The film with the second longest tea scenes is an unexpected entry. Six minutes of Cinderella is devoted to ‘tea time’. One of Cinderella’s main duties is serving tea to the household, even though in the entire film, Lady Tremaine (the wicked stepmother) is the only character to take a single sip of tea.
In third place is Mary Poppins, with nearly four minutes. Mary Poppins has the most characters who interact with tea of any Disney movie, but the most preoccupied isn’t Mary Poppins but Mr. Banks (not even cannon-fire comes between him and his morning cup of tea).
Those are the top three but where do the other movies rank? We totalled the number of seconds of ‘tea time’ in each film, and also calculated the percentage of the film taken up by tea drinking.
10. Sleeping Beauty
49 seconds (1% of the film)
Sleeping Beauty nudges onto the 10th position, thanks to a tea-fuelled fairy-meeting. The fairy godmothers magic a tea set from thin air (which in our opinion, is an ultimate superpower).
9. The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr Toad
59 seconds (1.5% of the film)
This quirky film is often overlooked in the Disney canon, and combines stories from the English Wind in the Willows with the American The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.
Join Moley and Ratty for a traditional English tea-time in the film’s beginning (and try not to anxiously pour a whole teapot on yourself like Ichabod in the film’s spooky close).
8. Toy Story
82 seconds (1.5% of the film)
In this film, Buzz Lightyear is taken to ‘Infini-TEA and beyond’ when he is roped into a tea-party by Andy’s little sister.
7. 101 Dalmations
91 seconds (2% of the film)
One of the first clues to Cruella’s wickedness is that she turns up her nose to the tea and cakes prepared by Nanny. Elsewhere, you can spy piles of cups in Roger’s piano-room and Nanny even lobs a teapot at intruders as a first line of defence!
6. Beauty and the Beast
93 seconds (1.5% of the film)
With a teapot and a teacup as two main characters you may have expected this film to have ranked higher. We only counted scenes with hot tea involved, which lowered the score significantly. This tea set even gets air time in another movie. All the way in West Africa, you can spot Mrs Potts, Chip and the rest of the tea set in Tarzan.
195 seconds (3.5% of the film)
Based in tea’s cultural homeland, tea ceremonies are used in the opening scenes of Mulan to help illustrate themes around duty, domesticity and gender roles.
4. Sword in the Stone
209 seconds (4.5% of the film)
‘Hockety pockety wockety wack’ — Arthur is left spellbound by Merlin’s enchanted tea set when he literally ‘drops in for tea’.
3. Mary Poppins
216 seconds (2.5% of the film)
From the outset, tea is established as an important part of the Banks’ structured routine. Mr Bank’s never rushes to finish his morning cup of tea, even when there is a queue of nanny’s outside or the house is shaking due to cannon fire.
381 seconds (8.5% of the film)
Poor Cinderella is very busy serving tea that no one even drinks. In fact, the tea sets are most put to use by Gus-Gus and Jaq in their schemes (as they try not to land in hot water!).
1. Alice in Wonderland
733 seconds (15.5% of the film)
But no movie is as potty about tea as the wonderfully bizarre Alice in Wonderland. Tea is mentioned a staggering 24 times by the characters, and even has the very last word!
Fitting to the dream-like ‘surreali-tea’, every shot in the Mad Hatter’s tea party seems to have a new mass of colourful teapots and cups. In fact, there are at least 160 teapots and 120 teacups in all the different frames!
But despite the March Hare and Mad Hatter pouring 13 cups of tea, Alice doesn’t even get the chance to take one sip.
Disney’s Tea obsessed Characters
We also sought to find out who really loves tea the most in Disney. By adding up the number of times characters poured, talked about or drank tea, we can reveal who Disney’s ultimate tea connoisseur is.
1. Mad Hatter
Tea is more than just a hobby to the Mad Hatter, it’s his life pursuit and passion. Over the course of the film, he pours tea more than nine times, drinks seven times and mentions tea eight times — comfortably crowning him the most tea-mad in the Disney canon.
2. March Hare
The March Hare mentions ‘tea’ more than any other Disney Character. The March Hare also consumes just as much tea as his quirky companion, the Mad Hatter. However, the March Hare was far less hospitable — pouring less than half the cups his wacky sidekick does.
3. Mr. Banks
Perhaps a surprising entrant for third place, close viewing of Mary Poppins reveals that nothing comes between Mr. Banks and his breakfast brew (not even cannon-fire).
4. Mary Poppins
Mary Poppins pours, drinks and talks about tea (in fact, she mentions tea five times throughout the film). In fact she makes it very clear that tea time is sacred and she will not have her tea ‘schedule interrupted’.
Besides the Mad Hatter, dutiful Mulan serves the second most amount of tea in the Disney canon (on par with the March Hare). Too busy defeating the Hun, Mulan never gets the chance to take a break and sip any tea herself.
And What Tea do our Experts Recommend to Get into the Mood of these Classic Movies?
Beauty and the Beast
The perfect complement to Beauty and the Beast is the delicate Rose Congou Superior Emperor Grade Tea, which uses real rose petals and is fit for nobility.
Pair this movie with Mountain Dragon Green Tea, which was all the rage in the Chinese Imperial courts.
Alice in Wonderland
For a traditional and fragrant tea with a quirky spin, treat yourself to a pot of Earl Grey and Liquorice Black Tea — the perfect unbirthday present and accompaniment to the film.
Prim and proper, Mr Banks and Mary Poppins would approve of nothing less than an English Drawing Room Scented Tea. Spit spot!
The Sword in the Stone
Merlin may be ahead of his time, but black tea was not yet introduced into Britain in the Dark Ages. Get transported back in time and sip a traditional Linden Flower Tea — a favourite of both medieval kings and village witch doctors due to its medicinal benefits.
Buzz does the hard work for us, and explicitly specifies the tea as ‘Darjeeling‘. Who knew plastic toys had such refined palettes?
What to sip when settling down to watch Sleeping Beauty? What could be more fitting than Camomile Tea, which was both popular in Medieval Europe, and is nature’s spell for a restful night’s sleep.
The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad
The choice of tea? Moley and Ratty may have enjoyed the malty taste of Assam Tea, which was popularised in the late 19th century.
French Breakfast Tea Superior is exactly the kind of tea you might find in the Chateau pantry. This is a versatile tea which is as appropriate for breakfast as it is to serve a visiting Duke.
Looking for a suitable ‘spot of tea’? We recommend an Afternoon Leaf Tea, for a genteel and proper cuppa (and perfect with cake too).