For my first article for Voice, and the first in this series where I send letters to those I admire, am inspired by, or want to write a scathing sarcastic letter to, I toyed with a lot of different ideas. Should it be someone politically relevant? A current global issue? Something that affects everyone? And then I looked down at the oat milky two sugared brew in-front of me and realised I found something that just about fits all three (don’t question it)
So tea, this ones for you.
How did you get to be such a magical and wonderful drink? I feel there is nothing you can’t fix. Woke up more tired than you were before? Cup of tea. Just broke up with your partner? Cup of tea. Fell down three flights of stairs, crashed through a window and woke up in A&E? Cup of tea will sort you right out.
Whether they barely let you dip your toe in the water or let you bathe for a good five minutes, add in cows milk or my humble favourite oatly barista, there is something so wonderfully comforting and yet invigorating about you. Warming my hands around the mug as I snuggle into your steamy embrace is the perfect winters treat, and even in summer you seem to have a magical ability to cool us down (don’t question the magic).
Yet you are so much more than a hot beverage. You are the British social glue holding us together. You help us when we sit our parents down for a hard conversation about who you are and what you want to do with your life. That impossible essay that previously made you want to summon a soul-sucking demon just to be rid of it, suddenly doesn’t seem so intimidating when I have you. And miles upon miles away from home in a far-off African city someone makes you a cup of tea and suddenly you make me feel like I’m home.
The other thing I love about you, tea, is the ironically inherently British irony of your un-britishness (if you can’t understand that perhaps a cup of tea would help?). Originally from China we lovingly picked you from your homeland to grow you in huge plantations under the hot Indian sun, a lovely holiday full of sunshine and being cherished. At least, that’s what we like to think, isn’t it? A cup of tea wouldn’t taste so nice when you acknowledge it’s role in the slave trade, illegal opium dealings or British Colonialism. The American’s also have a pretty rocky relationship with tea and although I can barely even say ‘iced tea’ without shivering in disgust and fear, when you look at the context of tea in America you can see why they ruined a perfect hot beverage out of spite alone. When I think of American tea the quote from Hamilton springs to mind, describing the Americans in the Boston Harbour crying into their tea and then throwing it into the harbour (which actually happened!). If there’s ever a good reason for throwing perfectly good tea away its because your colonialist oppressors enslave and undermine you with it at every opportunity…. but of course we don’t talk about that do we, we don’t teach that kind of thing in British history classes because BRITAIN IS GREAT, THERE IS NOTHING SEEDY ABOUT OUR HISTORY OR WEALTH AND BIG BEN MUST GO BONG BONG BONG. Ahem. Where was I?
Ah yes, tea. My one true unblemished innocent love. I am sorry it took me so many years to like you, but I promise I will make up for it by drinking copious amounts of you for the rest of my life. You’ve got me through highs and lows, essays and results and you always make me feel like home despite the fact that your origins make you one of the least British products out there. Ahem.
So tea, you brew-tea-full yet morally confusing cuppa – thankyou!