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Noshing tea and beer.

by Dear Jon
May 31, 2002

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Sort 143_Dear Jon-Noshing tea and beer. ACTUAL LETTER TO DEAR JON:

Dear Jon,

When is tea time and how come we Americans don't observe it?

Taking time for tea

Dear Taki,

Tea time is a little bit like having a coffee break in the afternoon. Latch-key American kids call it their afternoon snack when they get home from school. Or you can think of tea time as kind of like Happy Hour, except the featured beverage is tea instead of beer.

Americans who don’t take time for afternoon coffee breaks, afternoon snacks, or Happy Hour, need to slow down and enjoy life. Persons under the age of 18 who thinks an afternoon snack is a Power Bar gobbled between soccer practice and piano lessons, should report their parents to Child Protection Services. Give the kid a break, for crying out loud.

What Americans don’t observe is tea time “etiquette,” the way the English do. Anything I say at this point is entirely fabricated since I don’t have time to look anything up. At some time during the reign of King George II, some chap in the leisure class, probably named “Earl Gray” or something, thought it a capital idea to celebrate the excessive privilege of British imperialism by setting a side time every afternoon to drink the cash crop British soldiers were forcing natives of India to grow at the expense of their being able to feed themselves.

Based on what I have seen on “Masterpiece Theater,” being full of leisure and class, tea is best enjoyed in the garden with elaborate politeness, and a delicate conversation that barely conceals the passions at war in the flesh and the venomous rivalry of raw envy. Because of incessant rain, tea is always served hot and the garden always has a verandah. Because tea is hot, it needs to be served carefully; thus the need for polite movements.

Americans never saw the point in manners, and never really cared for tea all that much. That is why, in the early 1770’s, revolutionary patriot Samuel Adams organized a riot to dump British tea into Boston Harbor, thus enormously increasing demand for his lager. The American tradition of “Happy Hour,” when exhausted rioters celebrated their vandalism with afternoon refreshment, was born.


Dear Jon,

When is it appropriate to use the term "nosh" instead of "eat?" Is noshing more a snacking type of eating or can you nosh a dinner?

Needs to Nosh

Dear Needs,

Nibbling happens with crumpets during Tea Time in England; noshing happens with pretzels during “Happy Hour” in the United States.


Dear Jon,

What is the best way to drink beer: from a can, from a bottle or from a glass?

Beer drinker

Dear Beer,

There are numerous factors at play. I notice that bottled beer tends to be more expensive. However, does your state offer cash back for the bottles? On the other hand, will a recycling unit pay for your crushed cans? And as far as drinking from a glass, that all depends on whether it is you doing the dishes, or someone else.

In terms of flavor, since beer is always supposed to be served cold and never with ice, I don’t see how drinking from a glass makes any difference. Perhaps it has to do with the shape and comfort of a person’s mouth. But I am puzzled by the convention that prevents people from cooling off their beer with ice cubes. Ice is meant to make warm stuff cold. Why not beer? How come no one can ask for “Beer on the rocks?”

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