Wine Is Classy, and so is tea.
Whether it is a group of Victorian-esque ladies and gentlemen sipping their afternoon tea out of fancy China cups while taking dainty bites of finger foods and desserts, or the elaborate ceremonies performed by accomplished masters garbed in expensive-looking kimonos in Asian cultures, the very practice of tea drinking is presented as a sign of wealth and privilege—contrasting the "working-class" coffee.note The Conspicuous Consumption signifiers of costly teapots and fine China cups, and the ritual of steeping and pouring the tea add to the high-class ambiance.
This is not surprising. In China, where Tea and Tea Culture originates, high-quality tea was often used by the nobility as a symbol of status, while offering tea was traditionally mandated as a show of respect: during important events, the younger/lower-class member of the family/society are expected to serve tea to the elder/upper-class member. When tea eventually made its way to the United Kingdom in the 17th Century, it was six to ten times more expensive than coffee, making it a luxurious commodity associated with aristocracy. Naturally, as prices began to fall, this led to the middle and working classes taking up tea drinking as well, wanting to emulate the upper class's new tea culture.
Even as tea becomes more widespread and "common", and with diners selling "to go" paper cups of tea, the connotation of tea drinking as a sign of sophistication and wealth still persists. Posh characters—most likely The Ojou, the Princely Young Man, The Beautiful Elite, or the Bourgeois Bohemian couple in their expensive home—would often be seen drinking tea during their spare time (which they have plenty of), and might even be seen carrying a teacup and a saucer even when it's inappropriate. Meanwhile, middle-class characters may take to drinking tea in order to look more classy, and little girls role-playing as princesses or rich young ladies may include tea parties as an essential part of their act.
A Sub-Trope of Drink-Based Characterization (in which tea reflects the drinker's prestige) and obviously a Sister Trope to the aforementioned Wine Is Classy. See also Brits Love Tea and Asians Love Tea, where tea is used as National Stereotypes rather than a sign of class, though the two can overlap if tea is a hobby of high-status traditionalists from those regions.
- Akuma no Riddle has Isuke Inukai and Sumireko Hanabusa, both of whom are rich young ladies who enjoy drinking tea as a part of their wealthy lifestyle.
- Attack on Titan's Levi Ackerman is a Man of Wealth and Taste whose Trademark Favorite Food is black tea, itself considered a luxury item due to the Crapsack World of the setting limiting agricultural resources.
- The last panel of Black Lagoon's Gender Flip omake shows a female Garcia—the heir(ess) of the prominent Lovelace family—sporting Regal Ringlets and dressed in a fancy gown, calmly sipping tea from an ornate china cup served by a male Roberta.
- Girls und Panzer combines this with Brits Love Tea. The St. Gloriana team is an Aristocrat Team based on the UK and has a tea set as its coat of arms. The school's creed is "Be elegant at all times", and the students (most of whom have tea-based Edible Theme Naming) are often seen drinking tea even during matches. Their team commander, Darjeeling, who epitomizes the school's promotion of dignified elegance, is also the most prominent tea drinker. Her character page's image even shows her holding a teacup and a saucer.
- Hoshin Engi: Chokomei is a flamboyant man who enjoys luxury and while he's more often seen enjoying A Glass of Chianti, he occasionally drinks tea as well.
- Kill la Kill: Satsuki Kiryuin, heiress of the REVOCS Corporation and the mastermind of Honnouji Academy and the Absurdly Powerful Student Council that runs it, often has her butler have a pot of tea at the ready for when she relaxes. All throughout the series, she compliments her butler for the deliciousness of the tea, but near the end of the series, reveals that she really doesn't think it's all that special, but continued to compliment her butler for the sake of it.
- K-On! has Tsumugi "Mugi" Kotobuki, a Token Rich Student who serves as The Team Benefactor for the eponymous band by providing them with expensive tea and snacks, which distracts the band from their practice more often than not.
- Mission: Yozakura Family: The eponymous Yozakura family is considered an elite among the spy world, but the ones who reflect their refined prestige the most are Kyoichiro (who, outside of his obsessive siscon, is a reserved Perpetual Smiler who dresses in a formal suit and tie to match) and Futaba (the most responsible of the siblings who is almost always seen in Elegant Gothic Lolita dresses). Their favorite drinks are black tea and green tea, respectively, and when they are called to serve as examiners for the silver-ranked exams, they are shown to be drinking tea. In fact, Futaba's exam revolves around tea ceremony.
- My Hero Academia:
- Momo Yaoyorozu is The Ojou, a well-mannered and sweet young lady from a very rich family. Fittingly, she is an avid tea drinker. When she first offers her mansion for a study session, she asks her classmates what type of tea they like and mentions that her family prefers luxury tea brands Harrods and Wedgwood. After the school converts to dormitories, she is seen preparing and serving tea for her classmates when they are all together.
- Saiko Intelli, a student at rival hero school Seiai Academy, has a quirk called IQ which allows her to boost her intelligence by drinking tea. Most of her screen time sees her sitting in her team's fancy HQ sitting primly in a chair as she drinks the tea from a delicate china cup.
- The Arc Villain of the School Festival Arc, Gentle Criminal. While not wealthy himself, he is a well-groomed man who fancies himself a Gentleman Thief. He also has a fondness for tea and favors the same exclusive tea brand Yaoyorozu had previously served the class.
- My-HiME: Both Shizuru Fujino and Reito Kanzaki, the Student Council President and Vice President, respectively, are avid tea drinkers. Shizuru speaks with a Kyoto-ben, tends to delegate authority, and even in situations that call for action prefers a Slow Walk and a Nonchalant Dodge. And she named her CHILD Kiyohime after a Japanese fable. Reito tends to be easy-going (Haruka often chides him for his "Now, now..." responses to various situations), is polite and encouraging to Mai, definitely a Chick Magnet, and lives in a Big Fancy House. He's also been Raised as a Host for the Big Bad, the Obsidian Prince.
- While PandoraHearts has a cast full of blue bloods, with many of the characters hailing from noble households, Sharon Reimsworth is the one who behaves most like a stereotypical highborn lady, and she's usually seen having tea when not in action.
- Rozen Maiden has Shinku, a beautiful Victorian-esque doll who acts as the noble Mistress to Jun's Servant Boy. She would frequently order him to bring her tea, which she considers Serious Business as she demands it to be made to her specifications.
- Sakura no Ichiban!: Invoked by the Sakura Blossom Club, which is where rich young ladies spend time having tea parties.
- In Tokyo Mew Mew, the wealthy heiress Mint Aizawa enjoys drinking tea, and would often take a self-imposed break to have her afternoon tea even while the café is busy, much to Ichigo's annoyance.
- Valvrave the Liberator: A-Drei. According to the first databook, black tea is his favorite drink. It's something that he takes pride in because he's a part of the royal family.
- Mulan: The Matchmaker interviews Mulan to assess how bride-worthy she is. A critical test of this involves pouring tea for guests. Justified in that China has a number of formal ceremonies that involve tea service, where decorum and precision are paramount, and some traditional Chinese wedding ceremonies even involve the bride pouring tea to her in-laws to symbolize her marrying into their family and having to respect and listen to them like she does her own parents.
- Jimmy the Gent: Part of the Wallingham company's pretensions to class and style involves everybody, absolutely everybody, drinking tea out of fancy china cups. When he's waiting in the anteroom to Joan's office Jimmy watches four guys in suits drink tea in unison. Later, after Jimmy starts trying to class up his operation in imitation of Wallingham, he makes everyone in his office drink tea too.
- In Moonraker, Man of Wealth and Taste Sir Hugo Drax invites Bond to afternoon tea at their first meeting, calling it England's "one indisputable contribution to western civilization".
- Weaponized in Red Cliff. On the eve of the final battle, Xiao Qiao buys time for the wind to change so that her husband's fire ships can be deployed by walking into Cao Cao's camp and distracting the enemy general with a tea ceremony.
- The Case Files of Jeweler Richard: Richard is so rich, classy, and just plain weird that he's obsessed with his royal milk tea and serves it to his wealthy, upperclass clientele. The fact that he's a quarter British also helps.
- Parodied in Interesting Times, where the Asian concept of elaborate tea ceremonies is exaggerated to the point where an Agatean Tea Ceremony for a senior court official can take up to two hours to complete before anyone actually gets to drink any tea. When Cohen the Barbarian takes the throne at the end of the book, he shows off his unrepentant lack of class by telling his servants that he just wants them to brew him a pot of tea and bring it to him.
- Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura: Gar comes from a noble family and is especially fond of Earl Grey. The player needs to debate with him on the merits of green tea over earl grey before he'd be willing to join the party.
- Arknights: Rosa's preference for tea helps emphasize the split between her image as a refined noble and the other members of the Ursus Student group who are commoners, especially Zima who doesn't care much for the drink. It's noted that she has several dozen different boxes of tea in her quarters at Rhodes Island.
- Elegant Gothic Vampire Rachel, the heiress of the noble Alucard house, practically obsesses over tea. Her most common entrance has her enjoying a cup before battle. She belittles Hakumen by ordering tea at the start of their Boss Battle. Her console story mode begins with a cup of tea, and ends with the same one in her Ragna Ending.
- Also, Trinity Glassfille can apparently summon a whole tea party spread out of nowhere, and often does so to calm down the more hotheaded characters around her.
- In Arc System Works' other mainstay Guilty Gear, Ky Kiske—a high-ranking soldier who eventually becomes a King—is shown to greatly enjoy tea and even collects tea cups.
- Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc: Celestia Ludenberg is actually a Japanese girl named Taeko Yasuhiro who puts on airs of being an elegant, gothic European woman. She resents people finding out that gyoza is her favorite food since she goes around telling them it's tea.
- Death Smiles: Princess Tiara is a spoiled young royal who enjoys having tea parties.
- Divinity: Original Sin II: The wealthy, well-connected Lady Kemm has unique teas that serve as Power-Up Food. She hosts tea parties for the less-fortunate citizens of the city and goes through a large amount of the stuff in the course of a single conversation.
- DragonFable: As a elegant, noble lady, Celestia is extremely fond of tea.
- Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom: The most high-quality housing in your city requires a steady supply of tea to keep its inhabitants happy, on top of all lesser amenities.
- Fire Emblem: Three Houses allows the player character to invite others to a tea party to increase their Relationship Values. To enable the Tea Party social activity, the player needs to complete a side-quest given by Ferdinand von Aegir to find a fellow tea connoisseur worthy of the rare tea set he's giving away, with that person being Lorenz Hellman Glouecester. Both are aristocratic characters who take the most pride in their noble status and have tea as their particular likes.
- Mint Blancmanche of Galaxy Angel is the sole heiress of a wealthy company, and she can often be seen enjoying her downtime at the Elsior's tea lounge.
- Lilly Satou from Katawa Shoujo is a prim and Proper Lady who lives in a Big Fancy House and is an avid tea drinker in addition to having a taste for wine.
- Miitopia: Princesses can have a nice tea party with one Mii in the middle of any battle to restore some MP's.
- Valkyria Chronicles 4: Gertrude's obsession with tea seems to stem from the fact that she's nobility.
Gertrude: A lack of tea would kill me more surely than any bullet. You'd understand if you were a noble.
- The Wonderful 101:
- Prince Vorkken, as befits to an alien evil aristocrat, shares a fondness for tea.
- On the hero side, the head of the CENTINELS, Lawrence Nelson is often seen drinking tea during briefings. Screw up in certain QTEs and he'll do a Spit Take from it.
- Dingo Doodles: Julian is the most proper and stuffy member of the party, and is always, always, always carrying a teacup and saucer with him.
- Silver Spoon from Inanimate Insanity Invitational likes to present himself as sophisticated royalty (even if the latter isn't actually true), and he serves tea at the meeting he arranges for his team to decide whom to vote out in "The Overthinkers". At one point he interrupts himself to thank Tea Kettle for refilling his cup.
- 50 Tea Recipes from the Duchess: Inverted at the beginning of the story. Hajeong finds that the nobility of Chloé's world disdain tea as a bitter beverage only drunk by "barbarians" in far-off realms. None of her peers know how to prepare it properly, and even if they did they wouldn't want to drink it. Wine and coffee are the only drinks suitable for the upper classes (and commoners generally can't afford to buy it from the far east). It takes hard work on Hajeong/Chloé's part to overturn the stigma against her favorite beverage and turn it into a desirable product.
- Bless the Harts: Lower middle-class Jenny and Betty try to drink hot tea to feel more sophisticated. They spit it out, with Betty calling it "garbage water" and Jenny wondering why anyone would drink it instead of sweet iced tea.
- The Loud House: Lola is the most posh of the Loud siblings, and she's commonly seen drinking tea, often while role-playing as a wealthy noblewoman.
- My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic: Princess Celestia rules Equestria alongside her sister Luna and in "A Bird in the Hoof", she's shown drinking many cups of tea, at one point pulling a prank on the Cakes by pretending to sip, so the tea overflows when they refill it.
- Time Squad: In "Tea Time for Time Squad", the team go to 1776 for the Boston Tea Party, where the Colonists are supposed to toss shipments of tea into the harbor to protest unfair taxes. Only they find them having a literal tea party while wearing powdered wigs and acting all sophisticated, not willing to resort to violence. It's only when they switch to drinking coffee that the Colonists turn into Fratbros and begin the American Revolution as intended.