You know, getting up at 7.30am on a Saturday is no fun. Especially when you’re only doing it to watch an ultimately fruitless match. And even more particularly when you know that your good friends are cooped up at a nice London pub with a nice cold beer to keep them company through the pain. All I had to comfort me in my misery was a steaming hot mug of tea.
Don’t get me wrong though, I love a good cup of char or Rosie Lee. Ever since I first sipped tentatively at a cup of murky brown liquid belonging to She Who Was Born To Worry or Brit Out Of Water Sr, I’ve been hooked on tea and its uniquely restorative powers. When I failed my driving test first time round, it was with a cup of tea that I was comforted. At university, Dr Gentle, Mrs Millmore, Towcester’s Finest and I put the world to rights over enough tea to flood the East Anglian plains. And when The Special One’s a little stressed (and who wouldn’t be, being married to me?), it’s a mug of tea that brings her back down to earth.
The problem with moving to America is that the tea is – and let’s be frank here – a bit rubbish. Actually, a lot rubbish. Standard teabags bought in US supermarkets have all the power of, say, Jennifer Aniston performing one of Ibsen’s darkest plays. In Norwegian.
Recent chemical analysis suggests that the tea content within each bag could theoretically have been derived simply from once being in the same room as some tea leaves. As a result, it takes at least three Lipton (or equivalent) bags to get a brew that tastes anywhere near the kind of thing you’d get in your average greasy spoon back in the UK.
Indeed, your average diners here in New York are categorically among the worst makers of tea in the world. Ask for a cup of tea with your eggs Benedict, and you’ll likely get a cup of vaguely warm water, with a tea bag and a piece of lemon alongside it. Oh, and if there’s not a little pot of six day old cream already on the table, you’ll have to beg for the milk. You’d have as much luck making a good cup of char by bringing along a dustpan and brush to the diner with you, sweeping up the debris under your table, depositing it into the lukewarm water and giving it a quick stir.
The relief is that if you know where to go (or if you can use Amazon) you can get hold of some decent tea bags like PG Tips or Yorkshire Tea, even in a tea desert like America. The resultant brew doesn’t quite taste like it does at home, but even I have to draw the line at importing British water just for the odd cup of tea.
Thankfully, the sun is past the yardarm, and I don’t have to worry about this any further today. Now, where did I put those cans of Boddingtons?