‘No thank you, I don’t drink tea’ - How one tea-hater has found that these 7 words are not accepted in Britain

PUBLISHED: 15:55 21 April 2017 | UPDATED: 15:55 21 April 2017

How do you drink your tea? Picture Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

How do you drink your tea? Picture Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

PA Wire/Press Association Images

On National Tea Day, non-tea drinker Jessica Long reveals what it is like to live in a country where the answer ‘no thank you, I don’t drink tea’ brews more questions than the final chase.

The average Brit drinks 876 cups of tea a year - 17 a week and 2.4 a day. No wonder whenever you arrive in a social situation one of the first questions of every host’s lip is - ‘Would you like a cup of tea?’

For the majority of people I know the answer to this is always yes. It is a very social thing to go round a friends for a cuppa and a catch up and even a cheeky biscuit or two.

But what about those people who don’t like a brew, where do they stand on the social tea scale? Well, unless you are willing to adapt, right at the bottom - and I know because I am one of them. I don’t like tea.

Time and time again when I am out I’m offered a cup of the hot stuff. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the offer but I would appreciate it more if when I answer ‘no thank you, I don’t drink tea’ that would be the end of it.

But it isn’t.

You then get the questions over why you don’t like it and if you would prefer a coffee. I also don’t like coffee. The discussion then goes onto why I don’t like coffee and suddenly you spend the next half an hour discussing everyone’s favourite order at Starbucks.

You will usually find me in the corner, sipping on the orange squash which is reserved for when children come over.

I have also found in my 24 years of not drinking tea, that even if you see the same people over and over again they will always ask if I want one - it’s like a default question when ever you enter someone’s house.

And on the countless occasions I have been asked that question over the years I have always replied with ‘no thank you, I don’t drink tea’. Except on two occasions.

Just twice I have tried to fit into the social norm and not feel rude for turning down the nation’s favourite drink.

The first was at a press conference with Gordon Strachan ahead of Scotland’s clash with England. I was on work experience with a sports press agency and when I first walked into the room, which was full of men, I was directed to the refreshments table for the obligatory cuppa.

If I knew what was to follow I would have reverted to default phrase ‘no thank you, I don’t drink tea’ but in my attempts to fit in I picked up a mug and a tea bag.

I went for a fruit tea and then moved along to the two flasks on the table which in my naive mind were both filled with hot water.

I was wrong.

As I began to fill up my mug I noticed a brown liquid coming out and low and behold I was adding coffee to my tea .To add insult to injury the seasoned tea drinkers at the table had noticed and I was forced to go through the process again to drink something I would never enjoy.

The only other time I have succumbed to the social norm was when I went to Belfast to film a documentary about The Troubles.

I had arranged to stay with a lovely lady called Brigid who’d asked what time I would arrive in the city so she could have a cup of tea ready for me.

Instead of emailing back with ‘no thank you, I don’t drink tea’ I started a gruelling process to find a blend of tea I could bare.

I asked my tea-drinking house mates, Bronya, Laura, Lauren and Sophie, to help me in my search for the blend I needed and in the week leading up to my departure our days were spent working out the perfect formula of tea, water, milk and sugar.

The result - a very watered down milk and two sugars which I drank an awful lot during my time in Northern Ireland.

That was in 2014 and since then I never had another cup and in every social environment I have gone back to my favourite phrase - ‘no thank you, I don’t drink tea.

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