Tea crisis between US and UK embassies

A US chemistry professor's suggestion to put a pinch of salt in tea has become one of the most discussed topics on the agenda in the UK, a country famous for its tea consumption. The US Embassy in London took a humorous approach to the issue, saying, "We cannot remain indifferent to such an outrageous proposal as it threatens the very foundations of our Special Relationship."

3 mins read
Tea crisis between US and UK embassies

US Chemistry Professor Michelle Francl, Brewed: The Chemistry of Tea, her statement that salt should be added to tea for ‘perfect brewing’ was among the most discussed topics in the UK, a country famous for its tea consumption.

Francl’s statement was interpreted as “a US professor lecturing the British on how to make tea” and eventually the US Embassy in London issued a humorous press release on the subject.

“It is not official US policy”

The US Embassy in London made a statement against the outcry from the UK. “The good people of the UK can take heart; the unthinkable idea of throwing salt in the tea is not official US policy. It never will be,” the statement said.

“The US Embassy will continue to make tea the right way. By heating it in the microwave,” it concluded.

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The UK Cabinet responded to the tea statement from the US Embassy in London.

Although the UK has taken a humorous approach to the debate, it has made sure to reiterate that tea cannot be heated in the microwave:

“We appreciate our relationship. But we disagree with you on this. Tea can only be made using a kettle.”

US chemistry professor Michelle Francl defends herself by saying that she did not intend to create a diplomatic crisis.

“I didn’t think so many people would be talking about the salt in their tea,” says Francl, who says he was flooded with e-mails after the news spread.

It was stated that the brewing of tea with salt was found in Chinese manuscripts in the 8th century. Francl stated that a very small amount of salt to be added while brewing tea prevents a substance that gives the tea a bitter taste.

Turkey ranks first in tea consumption

While the ranking of the countries with the highest tea consumption varies from year to year, Germany-based statistics platform Statista announced in its 2016 research that Turkey ranked first in per capita tea consumption. Ireland ranks second and the UK ranks third in tea consumption.

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