Why You're Better off Reaching for the Kettle for Tea and Sympathy; 1.6 Cups Is Perfect Tonic for a Crisis

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), August 13, 2009 | Go to article overview

Why You're Better off Reaching for the Kettle for Tea and Sympathy; 1.6 Cups Is Perfect Tonic for a Crisis


Byline: Sally Williams

AND you thought it was just warm, tasty and calming...

Academics have found that the humble mug of tea actually performs a "culturally-rooted, symbiotic function between mind and body".

The study by researchers at London's City University investigated why a cuppa is the most common British response to a crisis. Nearly seven out of 10 people told the researchers that putting a kettle on was their favourite way of taking the heat out of a dilemma.

Two thirds said they brewed up to tackle a stressful day at work, more than half cited office politics, a quarter said they needed a cup of tea after an argument, while 21% said it could soothe a broken heart.

The academics were even able to put a figure on the amount of tea needed to restore calm: 1.6 cups of tea with milk and 1.5 sugars.

Psychologist Dr Malcolm Cross concluded: "The ritual of making and drinking tea - particularly during times of stress - is at the very core of British culture.

"This study shows that the social psychological aspects of tea enhance the effects of its chemical make-up on our bodies and brains.

"It's possible that this culturally rooted, symbiotic function between mind and body explains why Britons instinctively turn to tea in times of need."

Tea buff Colin Pressdee, who has written books on the best food and drink available in Wales, said: "The old adage is right, the whole thing about tea is that it is very relaxing, whether it is green, black or, indeed, red. As soon as anyone has been involved in an accident or had a shock, often the first response it, 'let's have a cup of tea'.

"Tea contains tannins like wine does and there are more of them, the longer it brews.

"Tea has caffeine too but the best thing is that its warmth radiates through the body and is comforting."

The Rev Eldon Phillips, 59, chaplain for Swansea's Singleton Hospital and for the Scarlets rugby team, remembers having a cup of tea to help him deal with the shock of being diagnosed with testicular cancer as a rugby-playing 27-year-old.

"It was Christmas 1978, and my GP told me to enjoy Christmas and to return a few days later," he said. "I have always enjoyed a pint but on the day I was diagnosed I had a cup of tea.

"I saw my GP the following Thursday, the surgeon on Friday and had an operation on the Saturday.

"It was known as a young man's cancer then and is now; you only have to look at John Hartson.

"I have popped my head around and said hello to him and I've been with his family a lot over the past couple of weeks and they are being very positive."

Facebook group, A Cup of Tea Solves Everything, has the support of 221,946 members.

Perhaps the best place to take high tea in Wales is The Angel, Abergavenny, a Georgian former coaching inn with a tea menu that reads like a connoisseur's wine list from the "light buttery taste" of lemon verbena to the "rich and full-bodied aroma with hints of muscatel" of the Darjeeling second flush. …

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