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Reading Ms. Stoddart's posting on the tea-drinking habits of Damon Albarn set me to thinking. In the light of the recent survey promulgating the disturbing fact that this nation of ours now harbours more coffee drinkers than tea drinkers (I forget the percentages involved but the former are now much in the ascendant), I have come up with this idea. How about soliciting interviews with celebrities and influential figures such as politicians, writers, etc. who are known for their love of tea. I believe that people such as the aforementioned Mr. Albarn are very popular amongst our younger citizenry, being seen as "hep" and "cool" and "gear". The persuasive powers of such individuals could turn the tide against this distressing trend which, in my considered opinion, constitutes nothing less than a threat to the very fabric of our society. If the body politic is to be saved from a rising tide of coffee swilling, inducing a confusion of social identity and postmodern value relativism, then all tea lovers must act soon! May I suggest beginning with an interview with Mr. Tony Benn, who famously takes a thermos full of piping hot cha with him wherever he goes? I feel sure that our older, more serious Britons would rediscover the joys of tea drinking once exposed to the views and tea experiences of such sober persons.
I am not anti-coffee, by the way. I occasionally indulge in a mugful when I need stimulation during the night and have even been known to patronise such establishments as Starbucks. But a Britain without tea is unthinkable!
On the vexed subject of milk in combination with tea, if you employ the convenience-method of teabag-in-mug, then you simply must introduce the tea before the milk and let it brew to taste, being careful to remove the bag before pouring the milk. If you use the traditional pot-method, either with bags or leaves, then it avoids the necessity of stirring the cupful of golden-brown ambrosia if you introduce the milk first. The experienced tea quaffer will pour the correct quantity by instinct, and the volume of tea, thanks to gravity and the teleological effects of fluid-mechanics, will automatically mix when it hits the small reservoir of milk.
Yours thirstily, Jim Lawrence, Southampton.