Ahh, we all know there’s nothing like a nice cup of tea. Whether we need to zip up our energy, to slow it down, need some liquid encouragement or solace, treat ourselves to a solo brew, or enjoy the comradeship of sharing a pot, tea has become unique in its status of Britain’s beverage backbone.
Except, as Victoria Wood discovered in last night’s programme, it’s not really British at all, as she went on a big jaunt up the rivers of rural China, quickly escaping from Starbucks in Shanghai for something a bit more exotic, and across the fields of Assam in Northern India.
Victoria Wood with a British cup of tea, except it's not as home-grown as it appears
Because tea is so central so many of our lives, the history of it was fascinating, right back from the 17th century, when China was the only place possible to brew up. Even the arty bits where all sorts of green, black, white teas were being compared was more interesting than it would have been, say, five years ago, due to Brits’ belated understanding that ‘tea’ is, in fact, ‘teas’.
Into the 18th century, and you only have to imagine a day without a cuppa to share in the excitement as the tea clippers sailed into London's docks, as well as the china from China.
Wood proved a very relaxed presenter, at times almost yawning her way through some of her piece-to-cameras. Occasionally, she forgot to play it straight, almost falling into character from one of her catalogue of hit shows. But she’s still got the killer one-liner - I loved “there’s an elephant in the room... literally”, as a big grey giant appeared on cue.
Frankly, though, a lot of people could have presented this show, and it would have been interesting. Tea is the most popular drink in the world after water, and definitely worthy of this telly visit. Right, time to put the kettle on, even if it turns out my brew won’t be quite as British as Clarissa Dickson-Wright - lovely, too, to see her again on the box.