Where to start? With a country that minces pies, not words, of course, i.e. Great Britain. “It tastes like cabbage water,” food and drink journalist Martin Isark told the London Mail about Asda teabags, a supermarket brand tea. Isark, who also runs the website can i eat it, has tested almost 10,000 products.
Then there was the poor woman who treated her 85 year-old mother-in-law for afternoon tea at London’s Hendon Hall. “The tea was 2 tea bags in a large pot, not leaf tea as advertised,” she wrote on Trip Advisor. “The tray came with 2 (stale and complete with crusts) finger sandwiches per person, a short bread biscuit each,a mini cup cake each and a scone each. Left hungry, depressed and embarrassed plus we were overcharged by £12 according to their own price list. ”
Teatime at the Tophams Hotel in Belgravia was the target for another Trip Advisor sipper: “The receptionist showed us to an empty dining room, where a waitress looked surprised at having customers. We were given a tea menu, which had a poor selection of Twinings tea bags, and I then had to wait 15 minutes while one of the receptionists ran to the shop to buy a box of the tea.”
Tats, tea and pâtisserie was the raison d’etre at (left) Horror Picture Tea (really) on the tony Rue St. Honore. Now fermé, in its day patrons could soothe their physical and existential pain with tea and fine sweets while contemplating a visit to the tattoo parlour in the cellar.
“The Worst Teas We’ve Ever Tasted” was a focus of the wine/tea experts at Tearroir, which usually enthuses about fine tea finds. “Living in Asia to pursue tea as a serious passion, and as a business can be both a blessing and a curse,”posts David Wilson who lives in Taiwan. ” What we rarely talk about is the dark side of this pleasure.” After tasting “a light-roasted Spring harvest Alishan Jin Xuan Oolong… a very famous high-altitude tea producing region in Taiwan,” Wilson spots white speckling that is, you guessed it, mold. Next up was a “spring harvested, light-roasted jade oolong. Noticing that leaves varied in color, a sign of uneven fermentation and roasting, Wilson then “spotted something mixed in with the leaf. A human hair. Lightly roasted.”
Another surprise awaited a steepster participant : “I had received a few tea samples, writes Butiki Teas 2 years ago, “and decided to do some taste testing. I measured out the leaves and brewed up the tea. As I was sipping the tea, I emptied the rest of the packet out to examine the tea leaves. There was a lovely group of dead bugs.”
Losing her teeth along with suffering severe bone problems was the fate of a 47 year woman who drank “astronomical amounts” of concentrated tea for 20 years, according to a New England Journal study reported by the Huffington Post.
The woman drank at 10-12 cups of tea brewed from 100 tea bags daily. “Her bone density was very high, seven times denser than normal,” said her physician, Dr. Sudhaker Rao, “It was like steel.”Dr. Rao discovered the culprit was fluoride levels that were four time normal. “There have been about three to four cases reported in the US associated with ingesting tea, especially large amounts of it,” he notes. “Most of us can excrete fluoride extremely well, but if you drink too much, it can be a problem.” After going tea free, the toothless patient recovered.
Unless you brew your own, beware. This from Fox News last year: At a McDonald’s in Simpsonville, North Carolina, a mother ordered two sweet teas for herself and daughter. Returning the tea because it wasn’t sweet enough, they tasted the new tea, found it still not sweet enough and decided to add sugar at home. When they took the lids off, they discovered “white phlegm” floating on top. A surveillance tape caught 19-year-old Marvin Washington Jr. putting his face down to the teas before filling them up. (Washington was charged with unlawful/malicious tampering with food. He was released from jail on $5,000 bond.)
Finally, from the book, Black Cats & April Fools – Origins of Old Wives Tales and Superstitions, author Harry Oliver cautions that it’s bad luck for two people to pour from the same pot or to stir tea counterclockwise, and that bubbles on the tea’s surface can mean kisses or money for the sipper.