Storm in a teacup as US and UK bust-up over best brew

By Chiamaka Okafor

The recipe for how to make the best cup of tea has led to a lighthearted fight between two Western allies, the United States and the United Kingdom.

The storm in a teacup follows a claim by US scientist Michelle Francl, a professor of chemistry at Bryn Mawr College, that a pinch of salt and a squeeze of lemon should be added to make the perfect cup of tea.

The US embassy in London disowned the scientist’s view in a tweet on X and said her remarks had tossed its special bond with the UK in hot water.

“Tea is the elixir of camaraderie, a sacred bond that unites our nations. We cannot stand idly by as such an outrageous proposal threatens the very foundation of our Special Relationship,” the embassy said, with its tongue firmly in its cheek.

It described the scientist’s recipe as unthinkable and that it was not official United States policy and never would be. It, however, insisted that tea is best made by making use of a microwave.

“Let us unite in our steeped solidarity and show the world that when it comes to tea, we stand as one. The US Embassy will continue to make tea in the proper way — by microwaving it,” it said.

The UK Cabinet Office agreed on the allies’ “special relationship” but disagreed “wholeheartedly” about using a microwave to make tea, saying it could only be made using a kettle.”

The Dutch introduced the British to tea in the mid-1600s and the country has had a love affair with it ever since.

The UK Tea & Infusions Association once revealed that 84% of the UK population drinks tea every day, with around 100 million cups consumed daily.

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