Of all the nasty ways we've invented to avoid life's simple pleasures, the subverting of real tea, in trembling dread of caffeine, is among the least forgivable.
I've drunk tea gladly since I was a tot, with milk and sugar to ease me into the habit. I flourished on it in my high chair, and poured it over the lino. I drank it at the table when I could barely see over it, and I carried on until I was big enough to brew a pot myself. Civilised people do. Smart people have their coffee; tea drinkers have our civilisation.
I dropped the sugar, but I still drink tea, and think it's a fine thing to get it in an English-style teapot, brown pottery with a band of some pleasant colour painted round it. Unfortunately, these usually leak. There's an art to teapot making, and even the Poms don't always get right.
I have no truck with teabags, which I know, from the taste of them, are the dusty sweepings from the factory floor mixed with lint and grit and moth wing. Teabags are a domestic laziness based on the belief that they mean less washing-up to do, and valuable time will be saved thereby to read your emails.
There is just as much to do, teabag slobs, because you still need a little dish to put the soaked dust bag on after you've dangled it. Or do you put it in the ashtray to soak up the butts? I wouldn't put it past you.
So using a mug saves washing up? Consider the saucer, your little sworn enemy. All you have to do is swish it through the same lathered water as the cup, or – here's a Herculean task – you can stack it in the dishwasher.
A cup and saucer are the proper way to drink tea, and they shouldn't be clunky but reasonably thin on the rim. Yes, they may chip, but they're preferable to the clunky tankards that now hold sway. Ugly is ugly. It's even uglier with a smiley face or dumb motto on the outside.
And here's the thing: you don't need the sacred-sandal-flavoured tea, tea from Madagascar, or those ghastly old-socks-flavoured herbal teas they tell you have magic powers. You need a decent brown-making tea, is all, a lacing of Earl Grey in it, and a bit of fresh milk. Excellent.
As for ghastliness, the Poms have just come up with a range of herbal teas for dogs.
It comes as teabags – points off for that – and benefits claimed are a healthier coat and fresher breath, which we could all do with. One variety is called "adult" (dandelion and ginseng), and another "performance" (with fenugreek and lime flower). This for creatures who roll in dead sheep for fun? But makers Woof & Brew are on to something big here, because dog-owners are a bit mad.
Young Japanese do. Two years ago a memorable report told us that 36 per cent of Japanese males aged 16 to 19 had no interest in sex, or outright despised it. Japanese girls aged 16-19 thought the same, three out of five said, and a refusal to breed is trending upwards, to the point where Japan's Government is encouraging match-making parties to throw reluctant young people together for baby-making.It's their "adult" and "performance" flavours that intrigue me – the term "adult" implies sex toys and grim kinky frolics, and "performance" has connotation of anxiety. Do dogs have a problem?
Why would Japan lose its libido? Manga comics can be explicit, if not truly obscene. Yawn. Unwashed schoolgirls' knickers can reportedly be bought from street kiosks. Double yawn. Attitudes are frank and relaxed toward porn, sexual violence, even images of sex with kids. Yawn again.
So much titillation, you see, but why bother? They're like those weird people who choose to drink plain hot water instead of tea. No good could ever come of it.
Source: Rosemary McLeod, Dominion Post, 29/5/2014