I have always loved tea, even from a young age (under 10) I would sit down with my great aunts for a much needed tea and cookie break (although to be fair back then it was basically a milkly sugar mixture and my ‘break’ was from watching Golden Girls or playing the Mouse trap board game, nothing too stressful). Since then however I have evolved my palate and can now drink it with less sugar and have even developed a preference for certain varieties….particularly Twinnings English Breakfast, Tetley and PG Tips….don’t even try to serve me earl gray, I would rather have dish water.
I truly covet my tea breaks and find tea helps when I am cold, tired, stressed or just bored as making a tea at least gives me something to do. The morning doesn’t start til I have a tea and dinner isn’t’ finished until the tea and chocolate/cookie/ice cream bar is served. I believe however that most of the UK echoes that sentiment as I have never seen so many people so fond of one particular beverage before.
On my first day of work 2 years ago, I filled the necessary forms out asking for my banking details, next of kin (for those ever so tragic stapling accidents) and handed it back to the office manager only to hear her say, “one more question…how do you like your tea?”
Me: “pardon, I am new here so am getting used to the accent but I think you just asked me how I like my tea….”
Her: “yes, that’s what I said, how do you like your tea? ”
Me: “um with milk and sugar”
Her: “ perfect I will put it on a list”
Me: (Looking around figuring I was on some Canadian blooper show cause they couldn’t really have asked me how I like my tea on my first day of work, what next, asking if I like vinegar with my fish and chips or gravy on my bangers and mash??) “oh, good the list, thanks”
Turns out that there really was a ‘master tea list’ that was stuck up in the office kitchen detailing each employee’s milk and sugar preferences in their tea. The general rule (which I figured out) is that you don’t usually make tea only for yourself but you ask around when you go to make ‘a cuppa’ (slang/short for ‘cup of tea’…guess that can be too much to say sometimes) and make cups for your colleagues as well….and at this office, you could conveniently consult the master tea list vs having to go around and take orders.
Anyway I have realized phenomenon was not restricted to that office but to basically all offices (at least in the Greater London area). So much so that Cravendale (a brand of milk) has created a great site based sole on the office tea making concept called Make the tea. (www.makethetea.com).
You log on and created your tea profile, choosing the milkiness using the colour scale and the number of sugars. You can then create a group ie the office and add your profile and invite others to do the same. This way when you want to make tea you have a virtual directory of your colleague’s preferences….also there is this great feature where if you are feeling tea time coming on you hit brew now and it randomly selects someone from your group to make tea.
It then emails the winner (sucker) with all of the group’s tea preferences…after which you can then ‘rate’ their effort based on how good a cup of tea they made….not sure it will make me choose Cravendale milk over others but it did make me talk about their brand which is part of the battle.
I am craving a tea now…anyone else?