Teatime Topicalities

British people are generally stereotyped as tea drinkers. Fair enough, statistics show that they do drink enormous quantities of tea the average Brit drinks 3.5 cups a day, compared to, for example, the average American who consumes less than half a cup.

But British people are not the world' s biggest tea drinkers they come second. Only the Irish drink more. They hold the world record with an average intake of four cups a day. Funny that they should be renowned for drinking whiskey and Guinness too. Do they ever eat anything?

Poles drink a good deal of tea, too. After Ireland and Britain, Poland comes third in Europe (unless you include Turkey), and eleventh in the world. The average Pole drinks more tea than the average Chinese or Indian, that is, about one cup a day. Perhaps if you didn' t drink so much vodka you would consume more tea...

Talking about vodka, Russians drink a fair amount of tea but only about half that of Poles. Do they drink twice as much vodka?

The eighteenth-century British poet William Cowper once described tea as" the cups that cheer but not inebriate" . Maybe this is what the British find so attractive about it. Tea cheers them up but doesn' t get them drunk. As the British are generally an unemotional race, they probably like that sort of thing. Perhaps they drink tea to get them going. But the Irish are a pretty emotional lot. Perhaps they drink tea to calm them down.

As the British Prime Minister William Gladstone once said:" If you are cold, tea will warm you; if you are too heated, it will cool you; if you are depressed, it will cheer you; if you are excited it will calm you." Surely those of us who are familiar with the effects of the beverage would agree.

Barnaby Harward