Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Vorsicht: Tee! (Danger: tea!)

This is satire. Please don't take this seriously. If you don't read German, this'll be lost on you anyway. But when I read informative or funny things about tea in the German press, I like to mention them here. I'll do my best to explain it without losing the style.

On Valentine's Day, I was looking through a newspaper from Berlin (die tageszeitung) and happened upon this tongue-in-cheek warning about the improper brewing of a bag of tea:

Der Tee ist sicher

It's a rather caustic take on the directions written on a box of teabags. Five or six minutes in boiling water, he asks. No, really? He calls tea a democratic beverage, and jokes that maybe it's enjoyed by such a wide variety of classes that you have to print warnings about how it should be prepared very explicitly.

And that's where he starts to quibble. The text on the box ends in a very dramatic manner: '...nur so erhalten Sie ein sicheres Lebensmittel!' (This is the only safe/secure way to use this product).

He takes the warning to ridiculous extremes and jokes about the mortal danger of letting the tea steep for only half the time. For centuries, he points out, we've enjoyed tea that fought against the worst of the world. It makes the old, weak and sick somehow stronger. Do we even have to fear reliable tea now?

Then he jokes about living on the wild side and purposely going for shorter brewing times, which is what I do when I have no other choice but to drink bagged tea. But then he realises that while he's been pondering the horrific dangers of tea, that the originally recommended steeping time has been achieved and now the tea can be enjoyed. He even wonders if, on this cold winter's day, maybe the teabag wouldn't rather somehow jump back in the warm tea. Especially if, in the first place, it was so dangerous to be taken out early.

Now, I know this is this writer's take on how unnecessary the directions on packaging can be. It really is funny how some companies feel they have to describe their products. I'm going to explore this idea more in the coming days. If a package had to describe in intricate detail all the things to remember when preparing specific loose-leaf tea, there might not be room let for the name of the tea.


  1. A rather funny article (even if I didn't understand all the German in it ;)).

  2. I don't read German at all and really appreciated a good laugh. I think I know how to do something and then I read a package that says I have it all wrong! Thanks for sharing.

  3. You know I read that article and was confused. At the end the writer talked about drinking Rooibos tea. So, I started wondering if it was a warning that only appeared on that tea?
    One of the comments mentioned there’s a rumor going around that some sort of worm could be found clinging to the red bush leaves, hence the suggested defense was a good boil-down. Either way, I know it was satirical, but I’m still wondering what warning appeared on what.


  4. Ice and Lelia, you really don't need to understand the German to get the jist of it, but Ice from what I remember, your German is pretty good.

    Jackie, I hadn't even heard about a Rooibus worm (rumour or not). Good thing you kept reading. That's just what we all need: to fear Rooibus now.