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A Brouhaha Over Salted Tea

Controversy Threatens Special Relationship

A Brouhaha Over Salted Tea

By John Salak –

Don’t mess with the Brits when it comes to tea, even in the name of science and a better-tasting brew. They get extremely touchy when over their iconic cuppa, of which this nation of 67 million people down about 100 million cups daily.

An international brouhaha over tea underscored this point recently when Bryn Mawr College chemistry professor Michelle Francl suggested that one of the keys to a perfect cup of tea is a pinch of salt. This advice ironically enough was found in her recent book Steeped: The Chemistry of Tea, published by nonother than Britain’s Royal Society of Chemistry.

Think this tip was small potatoes? Think again. Outrage surfaced immediately throughout the British Isles as his majesty’s tea-loving subjects raced to support and protect their national drink from foreign influences.  

“We Brits don’t need tea brewing advice from Americans,” wrote Rosa Prince on CNN’s website.

“Don’t even say the word ′salt′ to us…” added the etiquette guide Debrett’s on X, formerly known as Twitter.

VeryBritishProblems, a popular social media account, went as far as to warn that Francl’s book created a “bad day for special relations.” It then added: “What will America recommend today, we wonder? Onions in a bowl of cereal? Mustard on Jaffa Cakes?”

In a move to cool down this boiling international flash point that possibly threatens to dissolve the special relationship between Britain and the United States, the U.S. embassy in London issued the following statement: 

“We want to ensure the good people of the UK that the unthinkable notion of adding salt to Britain’s national drink is not official United States policy. And never will be. Let us unite in our steeped solidarity and show the world that when it comes to tea, we stand as one. The U.S. Embassy will continue to make tea in the proper way—by microwaving it.”

Tea-loving Francl was absolutely gobsmacked by the furor her book and salty suggestion created. 

“I certainly did not mean to cause a diplomatic incident,” she told the BBC. “My emails have been going crazy today. I did not anticipate waking up this morning to see loads of people talking about salt in their tea.”

Ultimately she claims her advice is a scientifically tasteless benefit. By adding a pinch of salt—not enough to taste—to tea becomes less bitter because the sodium helps block the bitter receptors in a person’s mouth.

The Brits, nonetheless, weren’t buying the explanation, claiming the suggestion left a bitter taste in the nation’s collective mouth. 

“This feels like a crime, “Good Morning Britain announced on a social media post. “I mean I’ve never heard anything like it,” added one of the program’s anchors. “Don’t mess with a cup of tea. You can’t add salt and warm the milk. I don’t know what she’s thinking.”





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