A pot of tea? Do you want that with first or second degree burns?


Is enjoying tea time now an obstacle course filled with things that want to kill us or poison us? Firstly take the stainless steel teapot so beloved by British Rail and tea rooms full of characters from an Agatha Christie thriller? Where do we start? Well, the steel perfectly transmits the heat to the handle, so it’s bloody hot. In addition this handle so close to the pot you can hardly hold it. Brilliant!  Even with a napkin wrapped round the handle to prevent baked fingers, my knuckles still brush against the pot giving me the first set of burns. The second set follow soon after as I drop the damn pot with a yell, blowing on my burnt knuckles. The spilled tea then obligingly runs along the table into my lap causing more burns on a very delicate part of the anatomy. After hobbling off to the bathroom to put a cold compress on my nether regions, the waitress cleans up the mess and returns with yet another hand-grenade of tea.

...and another thing

By the time I have returned the second tea has brewed to industrial strength as another design cock-up is the pot is too small, only giving a cup and a half of tea with teabags destined for two people. Gingerly picking up the pot with either fire tongs or welders’ gloves I make a second attempt at pouring the tea…except I can’t. Just to complete the panoply of incompetence the spout is perfectly designed not to do its job. If tilted too much it shoots tea well past the cup (and this time burns my guest’s hand holding her cup), or tilt too little scalding tea dribbles down the spout, under the base of the teapot and right up my wrist into my jacket. Result is another round of swearing, a dropped teapot and rush to the bathroom for cold water.

...and another thing

Next are cakes, that aren’t; such as low fat, no flour, no egg no sugar concoctions. And I am sorry but carrots are not an ingredient for cakes. Nor are beet seed, lemon chia, pomegranates, celery and apple, let alone any of the sawdust textured muesli nonsense. The flapjack’s sole use in life is to act as a coaster. Only six cakes are suitable for tea. Chocolate, Battenberg, coffee and walnut, Victoria sponge, fruit cake, and cherry cake.

And cupcakes are just a lazy way of not making a whole cake but charging a King’s ransom for a tiny version!

...and another thing

Don’t overthink a teatime sandwich. They should have no crusts and must be freshly cut as fingers. They are only to be filled with smoked salmon or cucumber on granary bread, honey or marmite on brown bread, and jam, chocolate spread or egg and cress on white.  Stuff such as cheese and pickle, toasted ham and brie, chicken salad, roast beef or even liver pate are for lunch not tea! However, as with the airlines, sandwiches offered at select tea venues in London are also massively overthought out. They now include such nonsense as spiced crab and raspberry mayonnaise, pig cheek with pineapple ketchup, chickpea and coconut, snail and gooseberry jam (well, may be not the last one, but you see what I mean)….

And scones (pronounced scon not scoowne) must not have raisins scattered inside them like rabbit droppings. The sweetness comes either from the waitress or the jam.

...and another thing

Its biscuits at teatime not cookies. Biscuits are the size of the circle proscribed by joining your forefinger to your thumb. Cookies have the circumference of a Frisbee and are as delicate as a Simon Cowell with toothache. Chocolate brownies belong in a soda and ice cream bar. As for modern nonsense like sweet potato chocolate chip jar cakes, they and anything with lentils or mung beans should be stuffed into a horse’s nose bag, not presented on a bone china plate.

Yes, a nice string quartet adds to the genteel nature of this meal (absolutely no dancing though) but even the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party is preferable to being burnt, given sawdust flapjacks, pelican entrails sandwiches, plastic cakes or biscuits the size of saucepan lids.

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  1. Tony says:

    Very interesting and informative. Gives a whole new perspective on “tea time” I thought I was the only one that couldn’t navigate a stainless tea pot. But when a Brit has criticsm. . . .!!

  2. Les Mis says:

    Has anyone else seen Rowan Atkinson in the scene?

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