Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Why I drink tea

In a recent interview, a journalist asked me why I drink tea.  I paused for thought.
I drink tea to relax, for that 'ahhh' moment after the first sip.  I drink tea to find a moment's peace and to create a little space for myself.  I drink tea to replenish and do myself some good.  I drink tea for the pleasure of the ritual that is making a pot, waiting and finally pouring.  I drink tea to savour the taste and to accompany food.  I drink tea because, for me, there is much joy in sharing a pot of tea with friends and family.
Anna Salek
The Tea Lady

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Dangerous Habit of Tea Drinking

Teas is considered both a popular pick-me-up and a health elixir so it's hard to imagine that sipping tea was once thought of as a reckless, suspicious act, linked to revolutionary feminism. Quelle horreur!

The feminist complaints came from 19th century, upper class Irish critics who argued that peasant women shouldn't be wasting their time — and limited resources — on tea. If women had time to sit down and enjoy a tea break, this must mean they were ignoring their domestic duties and instead, perhaps, opening the door to political engagement or even rebellion. In the 1800s, tea was an affront to the virtues of frugality and restraint, which underpinned rural Irish culture.

In a dialogue between two women of that time it is clear that tea-drinking was considered lavish, irresponsible behavior that could be habit-forming. Though the characters don't know the language of addiction, they use the phrase "hankering after it" — as if to suggest that once you'd had your first cup of tea, it would impossible to stop or control your longings.

The reformers' campaign against tea took on another moral outrage too: slavery. Since tea was typically sweetened with sugar at the time, reformers in Ireland tried to convince people that tea-drinking was akin to drinking the blood of slaves who were forced to work the plantations where sugar was produced.

Fortunately for tea drinkers these 'dangerous habits' are now deemed perfectly normal and perhaps even virtuous.