Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Stereotypes of tea drinkin'

What are the stereotypes of tea drinking? There's some truth at the heart of most stereotypes, but how much?

Are tea drinkers old, decrepit biddies? Are they high-strung and in need of relaxing? In the comments of yesterday's post, someone mentioned the perception that tea drinkers are old, pasty Brits (my word). Certainly, I don't agree, but the stereotype must've come from somewhere.

Where? It's historical, sure. And the history of tea is unquestionably linked to the Brits in India, but in China as well. The Opium Wars were a result of England's desire to 'have a cuppa'. Am sure you know the new book by Sarah Rose that talks about all of this, so I won't bother.

My preconceptions about tea actually kept me from drinking it for a long time. Now that I know what sort of people drink this stuff and I know what excellent company I keep, I feel a bit embarrassed that I ever bought into the stereotypes. But there they were and I was definitely buying them.

Hope you're still reading, and I promise I'll write something tittilating again soon.


  1. I play the board game Weiqi / Go...picked it up in Cleveland where there was a very active club. One of the people in the club went to Japan on an unrelated trip, and was excited to see if he would meet anyone who played go.

    He said whenever he brought up the game over there, people would laugh and say that it was a game that only old men play.

    Another thing I'm really seriously into that has a stereotype of being "for old people" is birdwatching. And...I hate to say it, there's a lot of truth in the stereotype...sometimes I'll go out on a trip and be the youngest person present by 20-30 years. But there are plenty of people who break the stereotype, and when I invite my younger friends along with me they almost always have a good time.

    Stereotypes are silly...whether or not they're true. They keep people from enjoying a lot of awesome and exciting things and broadening their horizons!

    I personally think the world becomes a much richer, more interesting place when people start bridging gaps and engaging in activities that cross boundaries of age, gender, ethnicity or race, or other cultural boundaries.

  2. Alex,

    Just wanted to say, your insight is wonderful.
    The part about bridging gaps, so true.

  3. What a great post. I know that I sure don't fit into any stereotypes about tea. However, some of my friends still use them against me and let their preconceptions about tea take control when I offer them a sip or a cup of tea. It's silly how they think it will taste bad or is for old people so they will refuse tea as if i'm offering them gasoline to drink. It's strange, really.

    Also, Alex, your insight is wonderful. Stereotypes are silly. People really do not know what they are missing out on when believing in stereotypes.

  4. Tea is for old English people drinking it in china cups at 5 o'clock with some milk (I was the one mentionning this good old stereotype).

    And stereotypes are sometimes accurate (or they tell us of how something/someone is/was seen) but the truth is that you must also understand that stereotypes are not always (perhaps never) true and that you should go against what stereotypes tell you before judging someone.

  5. Yes Ice Hellion, your commetns were the ones that got me thinking about this.

    I think stereotypes say much more about the person making them than they are 'truths' about those being judged.

    The big one about Americans in Europe is that we're superficial. I know some superficial Americans, but it seems like such a gross simplification.

    But you do have to admit, the stereotype about the criminal play of the Italian footballer is rather accurate. Ha!