Tuesday, October 17, 2006

It's water to the tea, stupid!

Not tea to the water, and you can remember this with a little history lesson: Chinese coolies working from the west end of the transcontinental railway were sick less often than the Irish roustabouts working from the east end — because the Chinese filtered their clean-looking mountain stream water through tea leaves ("water to the tea"), while the Irish just used it to boil their coffee, no filtering. It makes a good story anyway.

Backstory When Disney's Mary Poppins first hit theaters in 1964, it included a song with Uncle Albert and the kids at tea whilst bobbing just under the ceiling (Uncle Albert was in his manic phase that day). The song included directions on how to pour out, with the semi-memorable injunction, "Never tea to the water, always water to the tea!" Forty two years anon, one is inclined to wonder which Never is correct: T to the H2O, or H2O to the T. And Disney pulled that song from all later versions, apparently stung by criticism at the time that teaching "coffee loving" American kids tea etiquette was downright un-American.


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