Time for Tea

by Marie Marshall

George and North

I don’t usually write doggerel, but this morning someone (who makes her tea by putting a teabag into a cup of cold water and heating it in the microwave) challenged me to write a poem in five minutes, instructing Americans how to make a decent cup of tea. The verses below took a little longer than five minutes and are fairly creaky, but they’ll do, with a downhill slope, a following wind, and a shove.

“The contrabanders took our stock
Of tea, and dumped it in the dock
At Boston!” spluttered Royal George,
As anger raised his Royal Gorge.

Lord North replied, “It gets much worse
– enough to make a bishop curse.
They never ever warm the pot
With water that is boiling hot,

 Stand for three minutes, pour it out
Quite slowly, to heat up the spout;
Two spoons of English Breakfast ‘tay’
And one heaped likewise of Earl Grey

 Into the pot, then pour more water
Hot as Herodias’s daughter,
Leave it to stand, put out a jug
Of milk, also a china mug

(Likewise pre-heated, as the pot,
With water that is boiling hot;
There is a slight controversy –
Add tea to milk, or milk to tea?

  It really is a case of taste –
Just never let heat go to waste!)
And don’t forget the bowl and tongs
For sugar. This array belongs

 To Britain! It’s the only way
To make a British cup of ‘tay’
The Yankees’ tea’s a bloody joke –
Colonials? Let them drink coke!

King George burst out, “How do they make it?
Look… tell me, Freddie… I can take it!”
Lord North replied to him, “God Save
Your Majesty – the microwave!”

(I’ll get my coat…)