Make mine NATO

Tea – the undisputed conversation catalyst of Great Britain & Northern Ireland. For us Brits, there is nothing quite like enjoying a lovely cuppa with friends to promote camaraderie & friendship. It is also just happens to be a great way to start the day.

Although it has been around in China for a few thousand years, tea is a relative newbie to this country, being allegedly introduced to British society by Catherine of Braganza, the Portuguese wife of King Charles the Second, circa 1662 something (although I have it on good authority that Samuel Pepys made comment to it in his diaries in 1660). The process of adding milk to tea was implemented just a little while later, in an effort to stop the fragile china cups from China, cracking with the heat from boiling water. Our adoration of the hot coloured liquid continued, prompting heavy taxation (what a surprise). Smuggling & adulteration of the product ensued with unscrupulous dealers cutting the brew with tea-looking substitutes, such as dried garden leaves & even, sheep dung (“Excuse me Sir, my tea tastes like shit”). This was stopped by William Pitt the Younger in 1784 when he slashed the tea taxation. Hurrah for Bill.

Tea for the troops

During the First World War, the British Government recognised the morale boosting importance of tea, not only to the boys in the trenches, but also to the members of the public & took control of its importation to prevent price over-inflation. Similarly, the government controlled the flow once again, during & after the Second World War, finally letting it flow at the end of rationing in 1952.

As we march forward to modern times, ‘getting a brew on’ is still an absolute necessity for those taking part in military shenanigans. Each squaddie carries within their personal equipment, a ‘brew kit’, which typically comprises of a lightweight stove, a metal receptacle & a variety of ingredients to make something hot & wet. For those who are vehicle based though, then it is common to find what was known as a ‘brew-box’, ‘morale box’ or a ‘little box of joy’. This is usually an old metal ammunition box, which contains a more robust brew-kit, complete with a frying pan for cooking ‘egg banjos’, as well as other essential items, such as biscuits, chocolate bars, comfy-bum (soft toilet paper) & an assortment of ‘artistic’ magazines (possibly, even a bottle or two of beer if you are necky enough).

The Get A Brew On Campaign

For us former military chaps, ‘getting a brew on’ is still as important as ever to – be it out on a bimble, at work or at home. Next time you have a brew though, rather than sit & look at your phone, use that time to check-in with one of your old buddies. Just a call or text to make sure they are alright. Better still, make time to meet up & ‘get a brew on’ together. You never know, that brew could help save their life. #getabrewon

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