An Englishwoman from York

I’m an Alien

“I’m an alien, I’m an alien. An Englishman in New York” is what Sting sings in his single from 1988.  That’s not true of me.  As an expat in Germany, I consider myself a “tea-loving Englishwoman from York” who feels far from being an alien.  Ok, I admit that I have the odd moment when I say something stupid and people look at me as if I am from another planet!

English Tea

Over the years the list of things I miss from England has got shorter. Now there is only one thing on it: PG Tips teabags. We British are well known for our love of tea and I am no exception. A cuppa first thing in the morning, several during the day and, of course, a bedtime mug of tea.  My German friends are amazed that my husband and I can sleep…no, we don’t end up bouncing off the walls due to a caffeine overdose!

Why PG Tips?

For as long as I can remember I have drunk PG Tips and regular trips to England or visits from friends and family mean we have a constant supply of our favourite teabags.

Mr. Arthur Brooke branded his tea in the 1930s Pre-Gest-Tea (PG) which he claimed helped digestion if drunk before a meal. The Tips refers to the quality of the tea – only using the bud and the first 2 leaves of the tea plant.

A PG Tips tea caddy

PG Monkeys

PG Tips is part of English culture mainly as a result of the company’s clever advertising campaigns over the years. In the 1970s the TV commercials with the Tipp family of chimpanzees provided great entertainment. Most of us “oldies” remember Mr. Shifter and the piano (check out the video on You Tube). Quite rightly the real monkeys have since been replaced with a knitted monkey.


Teabags are so practical and, supposedly, their invention was an accident.  In the early 1900s an American tea merchant, Thomas Sullivan, sent “teabags” in silk bags to his customers to promote sales.  These teabags were then put directly into the teapot rather than the contents being emptied into the pot.

Today the added string makes them so practical (handy) for making tea in a mug – no more burning your fingers!

The PG Pyramid is perhaps one of the wonders of the tea world! This clever little bag makes an even better cup of tea – its pyramid shape allows it to move around in the hot water.

A PG Tips Pyramid teabag

I’ve even resorted to taking a supply of teabags with me on holiday but the only problem is that German hotel rooms often don’t have a kettle, which is worse than having a bottle of wine without a corkscrew!  Room for improvement, I think, don’t you?

Not my cup fo tea!

Everyone is different.  Some tea-drinkers prefer loose tea, some teabags.  Some like weak tea, some strong.  Some prefer milk first, some milk last.  It even varies from region to region in the UK.

Please, if ever you make me a cup of tea, make it strong.  There is nothing worse than a milky weak tea…certainly not my cup of tea!

Milk, no sugar, please!

For me it has to be fresh semi-skimmed milk. Anything else will not do.  My dislike for full-fat milk stems back to my days living on a farm.  When a cow has a calf it produces milk for the next few days which is high in colostrum and is very creamy.  I remember the blobs of cream floating on my cornflakes and, even worse, in my tea.  Not a good start to the day!  Even now, the thought turns my stomach.  Sorry folks, let’s change the subject.

Dunking bisicuits

I suppose the ultimate treat when having a cuppa is to dunk a biscuit in your tea.  Not exactly tea ettiquette but so long as no-one is looking , it’s Ok.  My top “dunkers” are McVitie’s Ginger Nuts, Rich Tea biscuits and plain Digestive biscuits (not chocolate covered because there’s nothing worse than getting chocolate all over your hands and, inevitably, your clothes!).

There’s always Time 4 Tea

Drinking tea is part of everyday life in the UK.  It doesn’t matter when or where.  A tea break may only be for 15 minutes but the ritual of filling the kettle, switching it on and then waiting until the water boils allows you time to take time out.  Keep calm and put the kettle on.

Alone the question: “Shall we have a cup of tea?” is so comforting.  The answer: “Oh, go on then!” at first sounds like a sign of resignation but it is actually an inner smile at the anticipated pleasure.

All this talk about tea has made me thirsty, so it’s time to boil the kettle.  I am sure I’ll have a lot to chat about next time.

Ciao, or is it Chai? 🙂

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