An American scientist has sparked a trans-Atlantic tempest in a teapot by offering Britain advice on its favourite hot beverage.
Bryn Mawr College chemistry professor Michelle Francl says one of the keys to a perfect cup of tea is a pinch of salt. The tip is included in Francl’s book “Steeped: The Chemistry of Tea,” published Wednesday by the Royal Society of Chemistry.
Not since the Boston Tea Party has mixing tea with salt water roiled the Anglo-American relationship so much.
The salt suggestion drew howls of outrage from tea lovers in Britain, where popular stereotype sees Americans as coffee-swilling boors who make tea, if at all, in the microwave. “Don’t even say the word ′salt′ to us...” the etiquette guide Debrett’s wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.
The U.S. Embassy in London intervened in the brewing storm with a social media post reassuring “the good people of the U.K. that the unthinkable notion of adding salt to Britain’s national drink is not official United States policy.”
“Let us unite in our steeped solidarity and show the world that when it comes to tea, we stand as one,” said the tongue-in-cheek post. “The U.S. Embassy will continue to make tea in the proper way - by microwaving it.”
The embassy later clarified that its statement was “a lighthearted play on our shared cultural connections” rather than an official press release.