Comments on: An Alphabet of Feminism #20: T is for Tea /2011/02/28/an-alphabet-of-femininism-20-t-is-for-tea/ A feminist pop culture adventure Tue, 19 Apr 2011 11:24:49 +0000 hourly 1 By: AN ALPHABET OF FEMINISM: VITRIOL. : FLUXXED /2011/02/28/an-alphabet-of-femininism-20-t-is-for-tea/#comment-921 Tue, 19 Apr 2011 11:24:49 +0000 […] father’s tea so she could marry her lover. (In a little pendant of my own: she continued to take teaherself in prison – and to receive visitors for tea – apparently unencumbered by squeamishness, […]

By: Pet Jeffery /2011/02/28/an-alphabet-of-femininism-20-t-is-for-tea/#comment-920 Fri, 04 Mar 2011 11:55:10 +0000 In reply to Hodge.

I assume that tea had become much cheaper by 1830, anyway, because William Cobbett (in his “Rural Rides”) lamented that the English diet had changed from bread and beer to tea and potatoes.

By: Hodge /2011/02/28/an-alphabet-of-femininism-20-t-is-for-tea/#comment-919 Fri, 04 Mar 2011 08:54:23 +0000 In reply to Hodge.

I can’t speak for coffee’s ‘decline’, but I would guess the tea’s connection with Britishness has a large part to play. Which in turn has a lot to do with the East India Company, and lots of the stuff I outline above. But, of course, Seattle was the original home of Starbucks, no? Rum indeed.

By: Simon /2011/02/28/an-alphabet-of-femininism-20-t-is-for-tea/#comment-918 Fri, 04 Mar 2011 00:30:14 +0000 In reply to Hodge.

But of course in America coffee (the nasty water-y lukewarm and filtered stuff) is the common man’s drink what you ‘ave with your Dunkin’ Donuts by the gallon for breakfast and tea is probably considered an effete upper middle-class pretension.

Wouldn’t venture a guess as to why it worked out that way round though.

By: Hodge /2011/02/28/an-alphabet-of-femininism-20-t-is-for-tea/#comment-917 Thu, 03 Mar 2011 20:41:17 +0000 In reply to Hodge.

Oh, and if I had to put a date on it, I’d say 1780s… it had definitely reduced in price substantially by the end of the c18th.

Bit gutted now that I didn’t talk about tea after the enlightenment, cos it’s clearly really interesting (witness all these points that are being raised) but i got so overexcited…

By: Hodge /2011/02/28/an-alphabet-of-femininism-20-t-is-for-tea/#comment-916 Thu, 03 Mar 2011 20:38:39 +0000 In reply to Miranda.

I wonder if you could make a sensible argument that coffee has rather overtaken tea as a class divider in modern times?

…It’s overpriced (while you can certainly get a ludicrously expensive cup of tea, it feels less justified when Starbucks shove you a cup with the teabag floating limply in some lukewarm water and then charge you two pounds, than it does when you’re getting a mochachocaexpressochino with whipped cream and sparkles);

it can be used to justify some lavish spending (‘I can’t drink instant – I must buy an expresso maker / cappuccino dispenser / imported luxury beans ( / whatever else forthwith!’ (you can tell I don’t drink coffee, can’t you?));

and, finally, its supposed Italian origins facilitate a high level of snobbery and sort of oh-so-cosmopolitan attitude in both the drinker and the advertiser (

As opposed to this, you have the near-fabular significance of ‘PG Tips’ as a synonym for cheap tea, and, of course, ‘builders’ tea’, which has now become a recognised phrase (and a recognised way to order tea). I am also, bizarrely, reminded of Adrian Mole wondering why tramps ‘always ask for money for a cup of tea – don’t any of them drink coffee?’ As ridiculous (and funny) as that is, the idea of asking for a cup of tea seems to have acquired a kind of ‘basic comfort’ significance that coffee does not have.

I suspect that coffee’s rise in modern times began in the 80s (but have no idea why I think that), and that tea’s descent to ubiquity was a result, as you say, of pricing structures changing (something the slave trade probably helped…)

By: Hodge /2011/02/28/an-alphabet-of-femininism-20-t-is-for-tea/#comment-915 Thu, 03 Mar 2011 20:27:06 +0000 In reply to Pet Jeffery.

Ah, what I meant was, that if ‘civility’ is at its root to do with genteel roman businessmen down the forum, it rather undermines the idea of ‘civility’ as a feminine concept…

….although i agree that it’s often considered that politeness is what is owing to a ‘lady’.

By: Pet Jeffery /2011/02/28/an-alphabet-of-femininism-20-t-is-for-tea/#comment-914 Thu, 03 Mar 2011 18:33:24 +0000 In reply to Miranda.

You put in as much sugar as you like. Defy tea snobbery! Personally, I drink Yorkshire Tea.

By: Miranda /2011/02/28/an-alphabet-of-femininism-20-t-is-for-tea/#comment-913 Thu, 03 Mar 2011 12:30:43 +0000 In reply to Pet Jeffery.

Ah, so true. Markgraf’s Tea Snobbery is legendary. He is well schooled in the rigours of teattiquette! One of many reasons why we love him.

(I put sugar in jasmine tea LAST WEEK, no one tell him!)

By: Pet Jeffery /2011/02/28/an-alphabet-of-femininism-20-t-is-for-tea/#comment-912 Thu, 03 Mar 2011 11:35:48 +0000 I think that there should be a link from this post to Markgraf’s Horrible Tea Snobbery: