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Bob Dylan having a cuppa

“I said two sugars, man”

Tea’s great. Everyone likes tea. See, look at this picture and yes, that’s right – it’s a young (admittedly not very happy looking) Bob Dylan holding what, to all intents and purposes, looks like a cup of tea.

I know – Bob Dylan drinking tea! Who’d have thought it?

Come to think of it, the only people that don’t enjoy tea are those people in the office that pretend not to like tea just so they don’t have to make it for other people. And that says rather a lot about them, doesn’t it?

But – and here’s the crux of it – there’s a limit to which the virtues of tea can be extolled.

Sure, post the occasional tweet about how what a good job your cup of normal, everyday tea is doing in helping to sort out your hangover or of perking you up a bit on a miserable Monday morning. Laugh about how many cups of tea we drink as a nation each year with an elderly relative at a family gathering. Maybe even mention in passing at work – though not on any social media platform, please – quite how pleased you are with the cup of tea you’ve just made.

But that’s enough. Don’t go beyond that. Not an inch further. Stop. Right. There.

Because if you don’t stop, you’re in danger of becoming part of a body of people emerging at an alarming rate:

Keep Calm And Have A Cup Of Tea Mug

This is the kind of thing a Tea Twat might use

TEA TWATS

Yes, Tea Twats.

We’ve seen it with coffee and we’ve seen it with real ale. Good coffee and well-kept beer came as a great relief when we were able to get hold of either after eons of having to put up with swill, and it’s good to see that both are now so readily available and being enjoyed by all sorts of people.

But coffee has an alien (one hesitates to say foreign), sophisticated quality about it that makes well-balanced people mistrust you as a pretentious tool if you enthuse on the subject too much.

And – no matter how many glamorous young female members it may recruit and get to head up campaigns – one can’t think of CAMRA without conjuring up an image of a bearded, boring man in unnecessary hiking trousers striding into your boozer and destroying the simple pleasure of a quiet pint by bleating on at great length about the virtues of this ale and that, using adjectives like ‘delicious’ that should never be applied to a pint of bitter to make their nonsensical and dreary point.

We put a barrier up to coffee plonkers and beer bores – and rightly so. And yet there seems to be a mountain of goodwill behind Tea Twats that no-one seems to be too bothered about. But I am.

How do we recognise a Tea Twat?

Well, a Tea Twat might reveal themselves by being the one that starts asking for something other than straight-up tea or coffee when we get into rounds of drinks in the office.

The Gaffer off of Tetley Tea Folk

The Gaffer off of Tetley Tea Folk – NOT a Tea Twat

You’ve gone round asking everyone what they want and it’s been milk-no-sugar this, no-milk-and-one-sweetener that (pretty suspicious in itself) until someone knocks you right off your stride by surreptitiously handing you a box from the top drawer of their desk and telling you “it’s alright; just leave the tea bag in and I’ll sort it out”.

So, you take the box to the kitchen, eyeing it doubtfully, spilling the dregs from the mugs of NORMAL tea you’re holding in your disregarded other hand as you go. But it’s only when you get to the kitchen that you actually read the label on the box and see that it’s called “ANGOLAN MACAQUE ANAL GLAND TEA” or something like that. And your jaw hits the ground and you cast the thing away in disgust midway through reading some wanky blurb about the benefits of drinking the ghastly stuff put together by an over-enthusiastic copywriter that could frankly do with playing some rugby against a set of South Yorkshire ex-miners on a wet January Saturday afternoon to sort himself out.

You’ve offered to make the tea, though, and make it you must, albeit gingerly, confused by the process of dropping a tea bag into a mug of boiling hot water and all but forgetting to make everyone else’s drinks.

Having just about managed to complete the process, you carry the mug of arse tea back to the offending drinker’s desk, grimacing as you do so and holding it with the fingers of your stronger hand around the handle and the fingertips of the other clasped around the rim, forming an alarmed spidery figure above the contents. And you do so at arm’s length, as though you’re in surgical gloves and a white body suit and gas mask, transporting an open container of some substance terrorists would love to get hold of across the floor of a lab, terrified of dropping it and engulfing everything and everyone within a hundred miles in sky-high waves of toxic flames.

Can’t be having that.

Stephen Fry advertising Twinings

Stephen Fry advertising Twinings. Has probably drunk a cup or two of arse tea and then tweeted about it.

Or – OR (a stronger emphasis on that second one, if you’re saying it out loud) – it may be that you encounter them in a virtual world. Twitter, basically.

People post all kinds of pointless shite on there, and it’s mostly occupied by very dull people trying to convince themselves that they’re a bit zany by laughing at their own lameness – but the reality is that they’re actually just a bit sad. Not depressed or enticingly tragic, oh-what-a-beautiful-poet’s-soul sad. No, just sad as in boring, how-long-will-I-have-to-humour-this-for, inoffensive sad.

They’re the people that tweet about tea EVERYDAY, posting things like “Mmm, tea…” out of nowhere, believing that someone somewhere will give a damn that they’re drinking tea. They might do. But they’re Tea Twats, too. It usually transpires that this kind of Tea Twat somewhat smugly professes to not drinking booze and ‘feels so much better for it’. And – when you come to finally read their Twitter profile almost as if by accident in a bored stupor – see that they’re working in PR or marketing or social media but aspire to maybe write a novel one day and live in the Shetlands with their cats and weedy web developer partner.

Great. You go do that. Keep that and the tea talk to yourself, though. We don’t need or want to know about your tea drinking habits, nor which brand of cleverly marketed tea you happen to be drinking – and by which you’ve been duped into effectively ‘advocating’ or ‘showing loyalty to’ or something nauseating like that.
Tea is tea is tea.

Which is why it’s galling to find our radiowaves, in particular, awash with tea talk and, therefore, with Tea Twats.

I shouldn’t be listening to the Steve Wright or Simon Mayo Show or whatever, I know, but even their shows had never quite plumbed such depths as they did when one or other of them had some bloke on banging on about his brand of tea (what’s that about no commercialism in your broadcasting, BBC?) for a full five minutes or more one afternoon driving home.

And the thing was, this wasn’t Taipan Venom tea from Australia or Seychelles Octopus Vomit tea. And he wasn’t talking about the history of tea or of Britain’s exploitative role in shipping tea across from the sub-continent. Nor, even, was it about proven scientific health benefits of tea, as boring as that in itself might have been.

Stephen Twining

Mr Twining – King of Tea Twats?

No. This bloke just bashed on about subjects as newsworthy as how best to prepare his own tea; whether loose tea is better than tea bags, what the optimum temperature is for making a cup of tea; and whether tea tastes better when drawn from a china or metal teapot? Questions that we all know the answers to already, basically, or else just couldn’t give a toss about.

Why are we listening to this? If your mate popped round and started talking about the same sort of thing, you’d assume he’d turned phenomenally boring or was in the midst of a breakdown. And, without getting too far into the issue about whether the BBC should be giving someone so much time to sell his products – whatever they might be – to the unwitting masses, the point is that this just shouldn’t pass for content in any medium for the very simple reason that it’s vapid and deadly dull. If it’s life-sapping to see in a passing Tweet, it sure as hell isn’t going to be worth listening to on an afternoon radio show, watching on TV or reading about in magazines and newspapers.

So why are we allowing ourselves to be so soggied with tea talk and bombarded with Tea Twats?

It’s time for a culling. Or, if that sounds a little extreme, an understanding that Tea Twats should be considered a common enemy, like people that choose to live in Hoxton, men in absurdly tight berry-coloured jeans, David Blaine and people driving Smart cars. If that sounds harsh, think of it like this: they are the quietly seething undercurrent of passive aggression bubbling away beneath the surface of our society and which undermines it at all turns. OK, that might be a bit harsh – and slightly dramatic – too, perhaps.

But they are annoying aren’t they, Tea Twats?

I’m gasping after that. Put the kettle on, will you?

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3 thoughts on “The Rise of the Tea Twats

  1. I have this problem in the usa with coffee. I say black coffee please? And I get back how do you like it? Err its coffee, grind it and add hot water. The person behind me in the queue then orders something that sounds like a three course meal and they’re the one who gets the correct order ! My coffee ends up being wrong (shakes fist at sky)!

    I loath the wide varieties of tea. For me tea is PG, Typhoo, Tetley.

    It’s not earl grey, chamomile, lavender, peppermint. They are infusions and are infuriating.

  2. Would love to see you giving out to some Starbucks drone – “GRIND IT AND ADD HOT WATER!!!!!”

    I have a lot of time for Earl Grey. Ditto Darjeeling. Think tea varieties are OK. They are the real ales of the tea world. But, like real ales, I still don’t reckon people should be too precious about them.

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