Tea: The drink that changed the world (book #70)

John Griffiths, 2007.

Two interesting quotations:

[quoting Lord Woolton, Minister for Food] “if we had given up during the war the blending of tea, the use of brands, if we had decided on this dull level of equality, we should have lost something in our national life. Taste, individual taste, is worth preserving and cultivating; it adds to the joy of living and flavours existence.”

And what if the Germans had succeeded in invading? Large numbers of men of all ages and occupations were being trained for resistance in guerilla warfare. But five thousand were being trained in another vital technique – the secret brewing of tea – a weapon considered as essential to effective resistance as guns and explosives! This was, and is, typical of both British blasé-ness, even boldness, and British blindness. No one doubted that the Briish would continue to drink tea, but no one had thought to ask how tea was to be imported into an occupied Britain.

Caveat: Griffiths gives no footnotes, so I can’t check either of these.

Other things …
– oddly enough, another writer (Laura Martin) wrote a book with the same title and subtitle in the same year.
– a report of a talk by Griffiths about his book.
– a short Guardian review of two other histories of tea.
– and apparently the Handover ceremony for the 2012 London Olympics will include “icons and images of British society and culture [such as] Tea – as important in the UK as in China – the old cliché ‘everything stops for tea’ is given new meaning by a brief tea break right in the middle of the show … a tea lady emerges with a mountain of cakes and sandwiches signalling that for the British, even in the rarefied atmosphere of a Closing Ceremony, everything stops for tea … two trolleys of tea, cakes and cucumber sandwiches for the cast”. How very whimsical.


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