Dear England...

The advent and ascension of the internet in my life has been both a blessing and a curse. It gobbles my time as I find more and more new, fun places to wander and it has introduced me to people around the world who have become “virtual friends”. Because I am an obsessive Anglophile, I tend to sniff around the British corner of the web more than any one other place. Thus we sometimes discuss the differences between being a U.S. citizen and living in England.

I just made myself a cup of tea. Somehow, it leaves a lot to be desired. My favorite mug here at the office, a whirl in the microwave and….plop. In goes a dusty dry bag of cinnamon and orange tea. That’s a far cry from the luscious equivalent that is a staple in Britain.

In England, you couldn’t escape a good cup of tea if you tried. Every dining establishment, from large to small, presents you with a charming pot of some sort that has been warmed and filled with hot water. The tea bag is swimming around happily inside and, in a few minutes, it is steeped to perfection.

Room temperature milk is poured into a cup, the tea is poured over and, in my case, sugar is stirred in enthusiastically.

For some reason, Americans (at least the Texas variety) just don’t get tea. Using milk with tea is looked on as incredibly strange. That’s partly because Americans, if they touch hot tea at all, are big on weirdly flavored teas: apricot, cinnamon, orange, almond, cherry….on and on. Most people don’t seem to understand that there’s nothing more delightful than a good strong, black India tea.

They like to plunk a big wedge of lemon in their tea and most men think they can’t touch it at all.Texas men like their coffee—hot and black—and assume that, if they were ever forced into drinking tea, they would have to extend their pinky finger just so.

Yet, if you drop some ice into that very same tea, you have all of us clamoring to get to it. Iced tea is a staple. It’s like mother’s milk and we can barely make it through a day, much less a meal, without a big, shimmeringly cold, tooth-achingly sweet glass of it. I’ll admit to needing—not just wanting—it when driving a long distance or at the office during an afternoon.

It doesn’t make any difference what the weather is—iced tea is a requirement all year round.

And I will admit to longing for iced tea in England. But I never had the nerve to drop the rare British ice cube into any tea while confronted with those stiff upper lips. It just wouldn’t have been proper!