How do you like your tea?
I’m now addicted to caffeine after drinking too much tea in Stockport last week.
It’s an universal truth that Tilly Bud (The Laughing Housewife) drinks Earl Grey Tea. When she made me the Earl Grey tea, I noticed she would always pour milk in first.
If you have your tea with milk, do you add the hot water first, or do you add the milk first?
I’ve always been fascinated by how English people make their tea. Some people told me the Queen would add milk in her tea first, but some people told me she would add the hot water first.
I’m on my quest to find out the answer.
Kate Fox, a social anthropologist, in her fascinating book, Watching the English (2004), wrote about the hidden rules of English behaviour, especially the British class system. She mentioned some social observations about tea.
In ‘Breakfast Rules — and Tea Beliefs’ (pg 311), Kate Fox mentioned that “The upper-middle and upper classes drink weak, dishwater-coloured, unsweetened Earl Grey. Taking sugar in your tea is regarded by many as an infallible lower-class indicator: even one spoonful is a bit suspect (unless you were born before about 1955); more than one and you are lower-middle at least; more than two and you are definitely working class. Putting the milk into the cup first is also a lower-class habit, as is over-vigorous, noisy stirring.”
Based on this research, as Tilly doesn’t add sugar in her tea, I think Tilly is possibly somewhere between the upper middle and working class.
We took two buses to visit Manchester last Thursday. To entertain my 12 year old son, we had to visit a place with dinosaurs and lizards. Luckily Manchester Museum was the perfect place.
On our way back to the bus stop, we came across this cafe called teacup on Thomas Street.
My son asked why Tilly and I giggled so much when we saw these words, “50 Shades of Earl Grey’. It was hard to explain. Tilly patiently explained to him that 50 Shades of Grey is a book for some adults, and the concept of 50 Shades of something has entered the lexicon of English. Look, this is how Tilly pronounced the word, lexicOn (con as in corn). I told her I pronounced this word differently with a schwa. I pronounce it ‘lexiken’ (as in the vowel in ‘earn’).
In the few days together, I heard myself saying, “Excuse me. Sorry. I beg your pardon? I didn’t catch what you’ve just said.” Tilly must have been so fed up with this Chinese person.
For those readers who are not familiar with the fuss about the novel, 50 Shades of Grey, please don’t ask me for details. I have no intention to read this book.
I also told Tilly that some British hotels removed the Bible, and replaced it with this erotic novel in their hotel rooms. Tilly was shocked. Here’s the link to the report:
Finally, I would like to thank Ghostly Tom from Manchester for kindly sharing his two 50 Shades of Earl Grey images on this post. I sent him my request this morning, and he kindly agreed and even promised to take me to this cafe next time.
I think people in Manchester are really nice.
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- Stockport Air Raid Shelters
- What would you do for a friend’s friend?
- Perfect tea
- Oxo cube: good or evil?
- Laughter and love
- The north south divide
- English in the north: dropping consonants
- Granny Liu
- Food, glorious food!
- How many ways can you view Tilly?
- What is the secret of expert tea tasters?
- Tea for Teachers
- The best kept secret in Chandler’s Ford – The Tea Museum