I sat and watched Heroes the other night, I think it was episode 14:

Anyway some quick (as in speedy) knife guy (Edgar) was getting a good beating by Mr. Bennet in a fridge. (Compare this Mr. Bennet with the other Mr. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice… a world of difference?)

Bennet’s wannabe girlfriend Lauren, suggested to him that a gentler approach would be more productive so the scene changed from being Guantanamoesque to an afternoon at Betty’s.  Edgar is English you see – you can easily tell this because his accent is one you would never hear on the streets of Bristol, Birmingham, Bolton or Bradford – but one that is obviously not American. I’d thought he was South African or Australian – but no, he’s English. We know this because Noah (Mr. Bennet) was offering him tea.

A cup of tea.

Why is it then, that despite (whilst?) promoting the stereotype, America (and much of the rest of the world) gets it so wrong? First of all, what Noah Bennet was offering poor Edgar was neither a cup nor a pot. If it was tea, it was being served in a handle-less cup like you might get Green tea in at the local Chinese restaurant. Now I realise that this is what some people, some races even, might call tea – but it is not I suspect, what the average English person brings to mind when they think of tea. And Edgar for one certainly didn’t seem to be a pinky-waving, light-weight, milk-less, weak tea drinker.

We’ve been drinking tea for over 350 years, so I suspect that we have it right by now. 350 years ago Americans were only just beginning to denude North America of trees, Bison and Native Americans – what do they know about tea? Well for one, the tea bag http://www.tea.co.uk/page.php?id=4 was developed there, but it only really took off big-time in the UK. And that’s no real surprise given the way they (and many Europeans) serve tea.

Any tea drinker who has traveled abroad will have been presented (countless times) with cups of hot water, accompanying tea bag on the side, two sugars and a tea spoon. In America, the thought of adding milk to a hot beverage is anathema – even coffee drinkers seem to get cream or half-n-half in preference to milk (I don’t mind this, half-n-half in coffee is fine, but in tea it’s just pants).

For someone that was brought up on the notion that tea should be made as follows, the tea-bag-on-the-side model it just strange.

– Warm the pot (warm your mug)
– add the tea leaves (add your tea bag)
– take the pot to the kettle (take the mug to the kettle)
– pour on boiling water
– set aside for five minutes (It’s usually ok after two)

    My Grandma really poo-pooed the idea of tea bags in the first place, but had she been served tea in a cup like Edgar the circus knife thrower (or anyone else in America) she would have been mortified. So come on Mr Bennet, the next time you want to be ‘nice’ make a proper cup of tea.




    One Response to “Tea”

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