Perhaps I had ambitions to be an MP - or an undertaker!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

I like a nice cup of tea in the morning
For to start the day you see,
And at half-past eleven, well my idea of heaven
Is a nice cup of tea.

I like a nice cup of tea with my dinner
And a nice cup of tea with my tea,
And when it’s time for bed, there’s a lot to be said
For a nice cup of tea.
(popular song from the 1930s)


“That tea-drinking has become a gigantic social evil no one will deny. In America alone one million pounds, and in England even more, are expended every year in the purchase of the drug; and the evil is growing at an alarming rate.”

That’s the opening paragraph in an article published early in the 1900s.

The writer links the horrible habit with coffee, smoking, cocaine and whisky, and goes at some length describing what happens in our bodies when we indulge in any of those. Having explained how leather is made, he (or she) continues “. . . when a man eats a piece of beefsteak and drinks a strong cup of tea, the tannic acid of the tea combines with the connective tissue of the steak, and the latter is converted into leather.”

Apparently tea contains a poisonous substance called thein, and we’re told that one eighth of a grain of thein will kill a frog, five grains will kill a rabbit, and seven and a half will kill a cat. “There is more than an ounce of poison in a pound of tea, enough to kill seventy rabbits or fifty cats.” Scary stuff!!!

“The cup that cheers but does not inebriate” is a well-known phrase from Thomas Cowper’s “The Task,” and of course refers to a cup of tea. So I was astonished to read in the closing paragraphs of the article that tea can make you drunk!!!

It had been reported that some girls in a tea factory had been arrested for being drunk and disorderly, despite having taken no alcoholic liquor. Instead they had chewed tea leaves constantly as they carried out their work in the factory.

“In many an English cottage home you invariably find a pot of villainous tea brewing on the hob all day long . . . . the impaired digestions and decayed teeth which cause so many of our recruits to be rejected . . . . has become a question of national importance.”

Not to worry, however. I found the following in Wikipedia, and I think I’m quite safe drinking my four cups of tea a day.

“Tea leaves contain more than 700 chemicals, among which the compounds closely related to human health are flavanoides, amino acids, vitamins (C, E and K), caffeine and polysaccharides. Moreover, tea drinking has recently proven to be associated with cell-mediated immune function of the human body. Tea plays an important role in improving beneficial intestinal microflora, as well as providing immunity against intestinal disorders and in protecting cell membranes from oxidative damage. The role of tea is well established in normalizing blood pressure, lipid depressing activity, prevention of coronary heart diseases and diabetes by reducing the blood-glucose activity."

Finally, it was the writer Norwood Pratt who gave this advice :-

“If you are cold, tea will warm you; if you are heated, it will cool you; if you're depressed, it will cheer you; if you're excited, it will calm you.”


Of course there's only one way to finish the blog. This is an excellent video by Softly Jazz (Conchita Castillo - vocals, Marina Fainytska - piano and Andrij Malyarenko - bass guitar) with a modern version of “Tea for Two.” The accompanying pictures are great.

Thanks to “Sweetvoiceforyou” for the video, and to for the image


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