Wednesday, 20 February 2013

A nice cup of tea

1960s British food was disgusting. An over-fried egg perched on top of a pile of damp chips would be the weekly treat. Coffee was made from dried mud granules mixed with bark. It wasn’t as disgusting as it sounds. It was worse.

We didn’t rise up to hang the ruling class, or at least the TV chefs, because you could get a lovely cup of tea. The tea your mother made. The tea her mother made. Back in Neolithic days the cave-mums had a mantra: “Warm the pot. Pour freshly boiled water over the leaves. Brew for five minutes, put the milk in the cup first, then the tea. Be warmed and refreshed and go out and kill that mammoth.”

Yes, yes!

That’s what my Yorkshire aunt told me, although we didn’t have mammoths any more, which is a shame as they’d have varied our diets and given us a less reeky alternative to the Afghan coat.

London today is full of stylish cafes serving fine food and coffee by young people who are lovely in every respect but one.

Their tea is pee.

At a trendy West End coffee house this morning I asked the barista “Make me a cuppa.” I might as well have said, “Serve me a flagon of Hyperion’s noblest canary, wench,” so I rephrased the question. I forgave her fishing a teabag from a jar, as it’s easier to get a phoenix egg in London than fresh leaf tea. What she did next was to pour hot water from the urn into a mug. Next she splashed a couple of tablespoons of milk into the water.

Then before my eyes she dipped the bag into the cloudy liquid, which turned puce. At a nearby table I saw someone trying to pull their teabag out with the wooden stirrer, and sploshing it on the table. Someone else was drinking their tea with the bag still in the mug.

The Heavens rumbled. A deep voice rang out, “Depraved ones, face your punishment!” The pavement cracked. People screamed.

A mammoth plodded down the street so I rode it up to Yorkshire, where they still know how to make a good cuppa.  
No, no!


  1. If this is how you feel about tea, you must count yourself lucky that you have been spared the abomination of cooking (yes cooking, not making) tea in India. In our effort to maximise, tea leaves are boiled alongwith sugar and milk to make the tea now known as Indian masala tea. Other flavouring agents like cradamom, ginger could be added, depending on taste. Even a tea-bag, if used, is squeezed and twisted round and round to extract every iota of flovour till it resembles a screw more than a tea-bag. You could have been scarred for life.

  2. Adding other flavours is creative, but re-using a bag over and over is cruelty, to it as well as to the drinker. Let the bag rest in peace! Thanks for the info, though. If I come across Masala tea, I'll avoid it!