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Gill Buchanan's Blog

Tea: the glue of society

James May was guest editor on Radio 4’s Today programme on 27th December which meant we had some refreshing content about TEA.

Tea: the drink of workers

He did a feature on Tea which he considers to be the drink of the worker who ‘gets things done’. His concern is, that it is getting increasingly hard to get a decent cup of tea, preferably made with loose tea in a China teapot – that might be pushing it for most of us.

Coffee drinkers are Skivers!

He blames the lack of good tea on the huge increase in coffee drinking describing coffee as the drink of skiving. Harsh but possibly some truth in that?

I find myself saying to friends, ‘let’s meet for a coffee,’ even though I know, if it is afternoon, it will be tea I am drinking. I have also noticed that the big coffee chains serve up terrible tea.

Personally, I do enjoy a fresh coffee in the morning but then switch to a nice well brewed tea with a splash of milk.

Tea is Social Glue

I think there is a lot of truth in this. Whenever there is a drama in someone’s life, you can guarantee someone will put the kettle and say ‘let’s have a nice cup of tea.’ And somehow the very act of drinking tea and sharing conversation makes you feel a bit better. People share their joys and their woes over a cup of tea.

Tea in Stoke-on Trent

James May went to Stoke-on-Trent to carry out some research on tea drinking. My parents grew up in that area so that resonated with me. I know a Stokie loves a cuppa: ‘Let’s have a brew,’ they say.

James met with the food historian, Polly Russell, who said that it was tea all the way for her. She drinks six cups a day. She also pointed out it is cheaper than coffee.

James also met with some tea ladies, salt of the earth types, and discovered that TEA goes to the heart of British Military culture. According to one tea lady, the NATO standard is tea with two lumps of sugar and milk.

James went on to suggest to a Tea Lady that perhaps they should put a statue of a tea lady wearing a pinny on one of the vacant plinths in London.

'Oh God, how good would that be,' she remarked.

He concluded that tea brings communities together and I must agree with him.

There should be more places where you can get a really good cup of tea. In too many cafes tea is an afterthought.

What do you think about tea and coffee drinking?

Are you a hardened coffee drinker – double espresso or quits kind ‘a person - or do you prefer tea?


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