So the answer isn’t quite yes, but only because there are a few dependent variations on this.
Partly it’s just because I take my tea without milk and now (after struggling for a while) find it just as comforting as milky tea (I now fail to enjoy milky tea enough that it is no longer comforting).
Unless its chai. I think chai (decent chai, properly heaving with milk and spices) is probably the most comforting drink. But we’re splitting hairs at this point.
The basic concept, of tea, is brilliant. Even more brilliant, is the social positioning it has within British culture.
Seriously, I find that panic attacks can be relieved (and at the very least shoulders relaxed to a more proper level, with accompanying sigh) merely by the offer of a cup of tea.
Being told that tea is on the way means, in a very concrete way, that things are going to be okay for at least five minutes. It means that someone cares. Someone notices your stress, and is probably willing to sit with you for a few minutes.
Oh my god I want a cup of tea right now.
Then there’s a social lubrication effect. Something to give structure to someone being in your property, to make the whole thing feel, more appropriate.
The skilled worker you’ve never met before is coming into your private space to fix some physical problem with your home that is beyond your understanding.
It’s actually pretty awkward. They don’t know if you’re a serial killer or not. You don’t know how they take their tea.
The whole problem can be fixed with just one offer of a cup of tea.
I have to admit, I remain a little dubious of any one who doesn’t say yes. Or at least offer a reasonable explanation of why not.
I don’t trust people who don’t like tea.
I mean, I can get over it fairly quickly. But it takes a little longer, and there’s always a nagging doubt.
A pathological liar once told me that ham takes the same position, socially speaking, in Spain, as tea does to the British. Someone just got dumped? Offer some ham. Didn’t get the job? Have a little ham.
I’m not going to go to Spain, for fear of having a conversation that ends with me being kicked out of the house for saying: ‘No thanks, I’m vegetarian, can I have a cup of tea instead?’
Tea is fantastic.
Just think of the last time somebody offered you a cup of tea.
How did it feel?
Felt good didn’t it. Felt cosy and warm and relaxing. It was a little like getting a hug. Only without having to break down any initial social barriers or having to worry about how bad you (or the other person) smell.
And making one yourself is fine too.
Have a cup of tea.
Illustration by Adam.