Fox observes that in truth, alongside its chemical properties, tea is an infallible social space-filler. After having detailed the cultural meanings behind different methods of tea preparation, Fox writes, “Tea-making is the perfect displacement activity: whenever the English feel awkward or uncomfortable in a social situation (that is, almost all the time), they make tea.”
It’s also interesting to note that some of the molecules involved in the flavour of teas likely evolved as defenses against being eaten by birds, insects and other creatures. That is somewhat ironic, given how vigorously we humans seek it out – and how many social meanings we’ve attached to it.
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