Tea is big business. Some claim it to be a health miracle, others believe it is the answer to most (if not all) of life’s problems. The majority of us love a good cuppa, so much so that more than 165 million cups of tea are drunk in the UK every day of the year.
But whilst the act of drinking tea is pleasurable and can indeed bring people together, the making of the famous ‘brew’ can also cause conflicts and bring out the worst in all of us; and don’t sit there thinking ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about’ because I’ll bet if you really think about it, there’s been a time when a tea-making ritual has caused you to think of, or even verbalise, a catty remark about another person.
‘Tea politics’ are rife in homes and offices up and down the country – and in other parts of the world where tea drinking is popular, I’m sure. Whether it be a niggle about who makes the most brews or about the quality of these said brews, there’s always some form of back-biting going on.
I don’t get much grief on the tea making front at home, though I’m sure my boyfriend would prefer it if I put the kettle on more in a morning and brought him tea in bed (it’s usually the other way around, you see). But in the office – oh my! Now that IS a different story.
Working in an office of tea devotees (with one or two coffee lovers, as well), this daily ritual is taken very seriously. If you’re not considered to turn the kettle on often enough, you’re made well aware of it when you do offer to get a round in, in that jokey, feigned surprise kind of way – “Oh my, you’re making a BREW?!”
I’m ashamed to admit that I’m one of the few culprits in our office who doesn’t make enough drinks for everyone. Not because I’m mean mannered and sit there lapping up all the other drinks from everyone else but because I genuinely don’t drink that much tea in a day. It is claimed that you should drink four cups of tea a day for ‘optimal benefit’ but I try to drink no more than two – three at a push if it’s a weekend and I have a hangover. I mostly drink water throughout the day and if you ask me, that’s the nectar of life, not tea, but the water filter machine in the corner of the office doesn’t come with half as many politics as the kettle does.
As much as I’m reviling tea politics here, I’ve been known to get involved in the back-biting from time to time. For example, when a new colleague joined the office and spent his first few weeks making everyone half cups of tea, we all grumbled quietly about how we were being shafted out of a full cup – like true tea addicts – until someone eventually confronted him and insisted he fill the bloody cup up.
It’s crazy when you think how het up we can all get about a little cup of tea. If we don’t get enough of the stuff, or it’s not right when we do get it, we’re like wolves baying for blood. Tea politics are proof of how institutionalised we can be, we just need to chill out!
Let’s all just relax and have a nice cup of tea, shall we?