Tag Archives: tea

It will take more than just a day, Mr Cameron

It’s about time that the amount of sugar we eat is highlighted, but I think the exchange in Prime Minister’s Questions when Keith Vaz MP challenged David Cameron to give up sugar for a day trivialises the matter.

A day is nothing as I found out 18 months ago when I decided to give up taking sugar in tea. At 53 I can’t pack away food and not put on weight as I did 20 years ago, and have become increasingly choosy about what I eat so that now processed food plays little part in my diet.

How much sugar did I take in my tea? I weighed out a spoonful: 5 grammes. I drink six mugs of tea per day, on average, and worked out that’s 5g x 6 x 365 for a year. That totals 10,960 grammes or nearly 11 kilos per year, just in tea.

Just a spoonful of sugar

I was horrified by the mental image of  11 1kg bags of sugar going into my tea and then my digestive system.

I gave up sugar in my tea immediately. That is not to say that I don’t think about adding sugar on occasion, but then I see those 11 bags.

I haven’t given up everything sweet and still enjoy occasional treats, but try to have a sense of perspective. I don’t think anybody wants a diet they find inedible and I am lucky in that my wife and I enjoy cooking meals from scratch so that we have considerable control over the ingredients we eat.

If we’re travelling, we avoid service stations or fast food outlets and take our own gourmet picnics. There’s no better quality.

Is it difficult? Not really. Effective meal planning is the key and many good, basic ingredients are not expensive.

I would like to see Keith Vaz and David Cameron reviewing their sugar intake and letting us know how much they consume and, if they need to reduce it, how they they will do this permanently. Like me, they can use kitchen scales to work out how many bags of sugar represent a year’s sugar consumption. That would be more powerful than one day without sugary or fizzy drinks.

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My life’s essentials 4: bone china

As mentioned previously, tea plays a big part in my life, although the continental European tradition of drinking coffee also features highly. But whether it’s tea poured through a strainer or freshly ground coffee, I always like to drink from bone china. I prefer a cup and saucer, but a mug tends to be more convenient these days.

Perhaps it was the disappointment from years of using ‘corporate’ drinks machines, spitting out unidentifiable hot liquids into polystyrene, plastic or cardboard cups, that heightened my appreciation of bone china, but these days I find it essential for the full enjoyment of a cup of tea or coffee.

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My life’s essentials 1: Brown Betty

My life’s essentials 1: Brown BettyLast week the teapot lid broke, disrupting the smooth operation operation of this household.

Now we have a replacement, a traditional Brown Betty teapot, and tea making can resume as it should.

Tea is one of my essentials: it starts and ends each day.

In August this year, when I was in hospital for an unexpected operation, I lay there dreaming of a cup of tea, as each time the trolley passed by my ‘nil-by-mouth’ bed. At last, I was given a hot mug and, afterwards, in my post-aneasthetic haze, I wrote:

“That first cup of tea. After five days. Scared of the heat. Waiting for it to reach the perfect temperature. First sip: warm, sweet, heaven. Sip after sip, seeping into me slowly, bringing me back to life. Each sip savoured for its restorative bliss. A connoisseur’s cuppa, produced from industrial teabag, metal teapot and mixed with plastic bottled milk: a cup of tea I shall treasure for years.”

After that, I’ll never take a cup of tea for granted.

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