Two hundred and fifty years after American revolutionaries dumped tea into Boston Harbor, a fresh diplomatic storm is brewing between Britain and the United States over the cherished beverage.
Britain’s media has reacted with fury and bewilderment after a US scientist claimed the perfect cup of tea is made with a pinch of added salt.
Michelle Francl, who has written a book on the molecular science behind a good cuppa, believes the addition is needed to reduce the bitterness of the drink.
But the suggestion has led to a heated response on social media from Brits, who are notoriously possessive over their perceptions of best brewing practice.
“I guess we are going to war again?” legal journalist Molly Quell wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. “What is going on over there?” asked British comedian Matt Green.
Francl, a chemistry professor at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, defended her seemingly radical idea to CNN affiliate ITV News, claiming: “It turns out that a tiny amount of salt, not enough to even taste, blocks the perception of bitterness.”
As transatlantic tensions reached a boiling point, the US Embassy in the UK intervened to distance themselves from the seemingly extremist idea, dunking the professor back into hot water.
“We cannot stand idly by as such an outrageous proposal threatens the very foundation of our Special Relationship,” the embassy wrote in a viral X post.
“We want to ensure the good people of the UK that the unthinkable notion of adding salt to Britain’s national drink is not official Unites States policy. And never will be,” it added.
Francl also found little sympathy in the British press, which took her suggestion with more than a pinch of salt.
“A scientist from the country where you can find tea being made with lukewarm water from the tap claims to have found the recipe for a perfect cuppa,” the Guardian reported.
“Professor Francl insisted her findings were solid, despite coming from a country where tea plays second fiddle to coffee – and is usually served iced,” the Daily Mail added.
Amid such heated debate, perhaps only time will tell if the US Embassy’s response will be enough to calm the waters. In the meantime, the embassy said it “will continue to make tea in the proper way – by microwaving it.”
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