Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Crossing all the Teas

He could be covering Hamas v Al Qaeda but Robert Fisk takes time out to pen a paean to the humble cuppa, one of the few things capable of unifying the Far East, the Middle East and the old metropole of the British Empire. Of course, Fisk surely knows that tea brewed south of Nottingham or east of the Irish Sea is a watery affair scarcely worthy of the name. But the most revealing information comes from his adopted region of the Middle East:

A secret, now, from the Arab world. Western soldiers in the Middle East are always encouraged to drink 12 litres of water every day. Long ago, in the deserts of Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, I learned differently. The Arabs will drink tea at dawn to warm them up – often poured from a great height, at arm's length – and then they will drink tea in the burning heat of midday to cool them down. Then they will drink tea at dusk to warm them up again. I do just the same on my balcony in Beirut. It works. "Water makes you perspire," an old Syrian friend once told me. "Then you have to drink more water to make up for lost water. They you perspire again..." (So is there a military conspiracy going on here, I wonder, by the bottled water companies?)

That said, I suspect the Irish UN peacekeepers used to bring their own with them:

Robert Fisk’s World: In praise of tea, the brew that powered Britain for centuries - Robert Fisk, Commentators - The Independent