“Tea looks disgusting – insipid, even – and it smells disgusting.”
Molly Chesney from Newark in Nottinghamshire, has by no means had a cup of tea in her life. She’s 48 and has dabbled in fruit teas – “blackcurrant, normally, when I’m trying not to have a gin and tonic” – however a basic British cuppa? Never. Not a drop.
She ponders why as we chat over the cellphone (me, with a cuppa in hand). “We never had tea or coffee as kids – I don’t know the age kids start being given hot drinks, but I never did,” Chesney says.
Tea is synonymous with British tradition – 50 billion cups are drunk a year, on common and Brits are mentioned to devour 1.78 cups a day every – with 35- to 44-year-olds downing probably the most. It’s stunning, then, to come back throughout anybody who doesn’t drink our nationwide beverage. But they do exist.
Chesney reckons her tea-hating behavior began at 16. She was working her first job as an admin assistant in a “sexist place” the place the ladies needed to clear the slot tray on the tea station. “We had to empty the bucket of water and clean it all down,” she says. “I’d never had a tea, and my first experience of seeing and smelling it was a disgusting slot bucket.”
“If that can be the thing about me that surprises people, then I’ll keep it.”
Chesney nonetheless enjoys the shock she will get when she tells somebody. “What! That’s not true!” folks will say. “If that can be the thing about me that surprises people, then I’ll keep it,” she provides. It works brilliantly for Two Truths and a Lie, and is her go-to “interesting fact” for awkward team-building periods.
If she has a visitor over, she’ll ask them to come back and chat by the kettle, “and then I’ll say, I’ve never had one, so would you like to make your own?” Chesney takes the boycott so significantly, she even avoids tea-based cocktails. “If I’m going to make this claim to fame, I want it to be 100% authentic,” she says.
Born in Telford, West Midlands, however now settled in Evesham, Mary Cushen, 42, wonders if the rationale she’s by no means had a cuppa is her grandparents. They used to make a big pot which they’d reheat “for around a week” till it has gone. It made her heave. “It looked stale and didn’t smell much better,” she remembers.
These days, she will be able to deal with the scent when she’s making cups for her husband, however nonetheless gained’t style it, even when her household nonetheless ask, in case she modifies her thoughts.
Sam Flinders, 20 from Oxfordshire, has by no means had a brew both – stats present simply 5% of the 18-24 age group drink it. “Hot drinks don’t hugely appeal,” he says, with a shrug. “I don’t understand what tea is supposed to taste like.”
Flinders’ associates aren’t shocked by his tea refusal, however older individuals are at all times shocked. “I suppose I’m quite intrigued as to what it might taste like – but I’m not fussed,” he says. His grandparents are additionally keen on pushing a cup on him, however he continues to show it down. For how lengthy? Time will inform.
Tea “smells weird and is a funny color,” Carly Ferguson, 39, from Hampshire says. She dunked a biscuit in her mum’s cuppa as a child – “enough to put me off for a lifetime.”
Ferguson was once a TV runner, so needed to make infinite rounds for solid and crew. Apparently she made it better of everybody, which she at all times thought humorous. It looks like a “much bigger deal than it should be,” she provides, however it’s her “thing” now – and she will be able to’t think about capitulating.
Sarah Wassell, 52, from Twickenham, London, additionally despises the scent. “I can’t stand it,” she says. “I once picked up a cup of my husband’s tea by accident and luckily smelt it before I took a drink.” Phew! “I do love a coffee though.”
“I’ve smelt it and it smells awful,” agrees Ebony Wiseman, from Hackney, who at all times thought tea was “just for adults” – like espresso. “Most of my teachers had coffee breath and it stunk so I assumed tea smelt the same,” she laughs. Now, at 28, she wonders whether or not she’ll ever attempt it. “I’m allergic to milk so it probably won’t be the full experience. There’s really no point,” she provides
Amid these tea-totallers are a sub-set of “one-time sippers”. They’ve by no means had a full cup, only a sip right here or there with out choosing up the behavior. Seiriol Dawes-Hughes, 34, from Caenarfon in northern Wales, is one. He had a couple of sips as a teen, “then one sip at work eight years ago, coerced by colleagues”, he says.
“When you refuse a cup, people often think it’s more than a refusal of tea,” he marvels. “They think it’s a refusal of their company.” Dawes-Hughes would relatively be considered bizarre than impolite, however would he ever cave? “No. I’ve gone this far in life without drinking a cup of tea, so I might as well stick with it now.”
Andri Benson, 46, from London, had a sip simply to see when youthful. “It’s weirdly leafy flavoured warm water,” she says, nonplussed. “I just don’t get why it’s so loved.”
Still, Benson makes the “best teas”, in keeping with her husband. She can’t assist suspecting that is only a ploy to make him extra.
“When you refuse a cup, people often think it’s more than a refusal of tea. They think it’s a refusal of their company.”
James Morris was equally bemused after a single sip 10 years in the past, questioning why tens of millions of individuals find it irresistible a lot. “I don’t understand how people repeatedly drink entire cups of it… every day,” the 31-year-old Londoner says.
Barely qualifying for this text, Elizabeth Balgobin, 55, from London has tried a complete cup, however just for charity. Before that, she’d not had a drop. She used to make her dad and mom their morning tea and low from the age of 5, and it left her sick. “It may also be my deep-seated resentment at having to get up before everyone else and make these noxious drinks,” she says.
The yr she turned 50, Balgobin challenged herself to do 50 issues she’d by no means completed earlier than. She crowdsourced the duties and on May Day 2015, swam Beacon Tarn in Cumbria, went dragon boat racing – and drank her first ever cuppa.
“Gillams Tea Room in Ulverston [Cumbria] is such a lovely place (and doesn’t smell too tea-y),” she says. “I had the lovely honour of my tea, and a toasted tea cake to take away the taste. It was as horrible as I expected but I did appreciate that it was organic. Drinking tea raised more money than 10 minutes speaking against Brexit at Speakers Corner or spending a day in a wheelchair.
“But tea is not for me and I have no intention of repeating the experiment.”
Friends of Sophie Farrow, 38, from Colchester, had been so shocked she’d by no means had a cuppa, she ended up doing an Instagram Live of her first style.
She grew up a faddy little one, Farrow says, even when it got here to meals. “As I got older I never understood what all the fuss was about or when people started drinking tea. It was all a mystery to me! I hate doing what everyone else is doing – you could say I am stubborn – so I just never bothered trying it.”
Illustrator Sophie Wilkinson summed up Farrow’s tea scepticism within the image above. Then in 2018, when Farrow casually talked about on Instagram that she’d by no means tried it, folks inspired her to broadcast herself having a go.
Her followers drank up the content material, however Farrow nonetheless couldn’t grasp the enchantment. “I love a mug of hot chocolate, instead,” she says. “I find it funny how much tea people drink and how a cup of tea solves so many problems.
“I wonder if I’m missing out sometimes.”