Life is a struggle when you don’t like tea
‘Just one cup of lukewarm milky water for me, please’
There are certain implicit cultural references for Brits. You know them – they are tropes on Keep Calm and Carry On posters. Weather. Queues. Not talking to people on the Tube. Gin. Tea. Especially tea. Everyone likes tea.
But what if you don’t? What if the thing that unites your nation is something you don’t get? What if when someone smiles and offers you a cup of tea, you look at them and say…. no?
For my whole life I’ve been made to feel like a bad Brit for not enjoying tea, as if preferring to have a coffee instead of a brew is akin to burning the Union Jack or punching a corgi in its tiny face. Tea is as much a part of British culture as politeness and bad teeth, so we’re all conditioned to think we should be drinking 20 cups a day – and that anyone who doesn’t is the enemy.
But the thing is, tea is just a bit shit. Trust me, I’ve tried to like it – but every time that brownish-grey liquid hits my lips, I’m reminded how pointless it really is. It doesn’t taste of anything, it doesn’t give you a caffeine boost and it tastes like someone else’s bathwater flavoured with discarded foliage. Even when I do force myself to have a cup I need about 20 sugars to drown out the taste, meaning I may as well have skipped the middleman and just had a mug of maple syrup.
Sometimes forcing yourself to have a cup is preferable to the dead-eyed stare or arched eyebrow you get when you admit you don’t want one. “Everyone likes tea,” they’ll say, witheringly, as if waiting for you to snap out of it and beg for a steaming cup of milky cha. Others will tell you you’ve just never had one made right, and proceed to make you a hot mug of piss which tastes like every other cup of tea you’ve ever been forced to have.
The same applies when you make tea for other people. Even when you tell them you don’t drink tea and you don’t know how to make it, they’ll still complain when you royally fuck up theirs. I didn’t know that I wasn’t meant to put the milk in first, and I really tried not to split the teabag. I’m only human, alright?
It’s time to understand what us tea-haters are about. We don’t pretend to dislike it because it makes us different, or because we just haven’t given it a chance. We dislike tea because tea is awful – how could it compare to the subtle burnt roast of a black coffee, or the frothy chocolate-topped security of a freshly-made cappuccino? There are a million drinks in the world which actually taste of something, which don’t give you awful tea breath and which you won’t get shouted at for brewing wrong.
Perhaps I’m bitter – after all, us non tea-drinkers will spend our whole lives on the outside. We’ll never appreciate the dunking of a Hob Knob, nor will we ever understand the pleasure of a warm brew on a cold day. We’re the outcasts, the misfits, the square pegs in the round holes – and we’re fine with that.
So you know what? Leave the kettle off – for both our sakes.