Tea and Biscuits

I’ve started drinking tea at work, because the coffee is terrible (and the tea is actually stronger). Today, as I was making it, it occurred to me again how odd it is that tea – not only the beverage, but the accouterments and rituals – is so associated with Britain. Globalization is not a new thing.

What got me thinking, though, was the tagline on the box the tea was in – something about it being “in the best English tradition” (which is a pretty common descriptor, I think). But the English tradition of tea-drinking is only 350 or 400 years old; Shakespeare wouldn’t have had tea and sugar with biscuits and cucumber sandwiches every day at four. I can’t recall an instance of anyone drinking tea in Joseph Andrews. What they do drink is beer, and lots of it, at all times of the day.

That’s a much older tradition, and, at least in my opinion, a better one. I’d rather be sitting here at my desk with a pint of bitter than a mug of tea. But biscuits are fine.


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