Here in America where we drive on the correct side of the road, tea is a formality we don’t partake in very often. Some might argue it has a downright negative or un-American feeling to it.
However in England and the institution of ‘tea time’ is looked upon as necessity to the average work day. Years ago big British banks and office buildings would have tea ladies walking around making tea all day and handing them to overworked associates and traders at their desks. According to an article in yesterday’s Financial Times (the well-known British based financial paper, you know, the pink one?):
Coffee is a bit more Ã¢â‚¬Ëœon the goÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ and more of an individual thing.Ã¢â‚¬Â [Some businesses] even throws tea parties in the office from time to time, Nicky Wells, a senior brand manager, says: Ã¢â‚¬Å“TheyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re very well attended.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Most of those companies have done away with these tea ladies, and there seems to be a big of uproar. There is a backlash brewing to the dissolution of tea time.
Tea time usually takes place between 3 and 4 o’clock in the afternoon and consists of a few associates leisurely sipping tea and chatting about their days for 15 to 20 minutes. Think of it as a slightly more social version of a Spanish ‘siesta’.
Sounds great, right? But however will we decide who makes the tea today? How many lumps of sugar does Archibald enjoy? A spot of honey for Sir Topham Hatt or does he prefer extra milk? These etiquette questions are whats boggling the minds of many confused Brits. In a response to these quandaries, businesses are doing away with ‘tea’, or cutting back on expenses with cheaper teas.
This doesn’t sit well:
Bill Gorman, executive chairman of the UK Tea Council, says Ã¢â‚¬Å“The company or their caterers go for the cheapest possible tea, which is a ridiculous economy… The average Brit drinks three cups a day Ã¢â‚¬â€œ there should be a revolution.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The UK Tea Council, they have one of those? These guys need to relax. And you’re proposing a revolution of sorts over tea? I believe we did that already. A little something called the Boston Tea Party, remember that one?
FT: What happened to tea time?, May 12, 2008