The pill could threaten your 'cuppa'
The comforts of a cuppa could be threatened by a modern way to get a
tea fix. Could this be end of the cuppa?
For millions of people throughout the world, starting the day without
a cup of tea would be unthinkable.
But the latest innovation from India's leading tea laboratory is a
"tea pill" to be popped in your mouth to save time in the morning.
The pill, developed by scientists at the Tocklai experimental tea
research centre at Jorhat in India's famous north-eastern Assam State,
is being hailed as the saviour of the nation's tea industry, which is
under threat from fizzy drinks, labour disputes and cut-throat
competition from Sri Lanka and Kenya.
Mridul Hazarika, the centre's director, promised tea drinkers would
not be disappointed by the little pill which, after some fine tuning, is
due to hit the market in six months' time.
He said: "You can suck it, chew it or dissolve it in water the way
you like to have it and still feel the taste of a real cup of tea. The
tea industry came up with disposable teabags for busy people.
Now the tea tablet will make it even easier.
"It is something that you will be able to drink normally or put on
your tongue as you go into work and it will freshen you up for the day
ahead just like a real cup does."
Tea is currently being lauded as the "new champagne" in New York and
Moby, the king of chill-out music, has opened his own tea shop there.
It is the trendy beverage of choice for celebrities such as Kate
Moss, Madonna and Kylie Minogue, who meet up for afternoon tea at the
Ritz in London. Hollywood stars have even been heard demanding it
instead of bubbly at VIP events and the actor Tom Hanks apparently lost
4st in weight after cutting out lattes and converting to tea.
Dr. Hazarika said that the centre had applied for a patent for the
pill, which will be marketed worldwide and would include variations such
as orange and lemon or cardamom and ginger.
But Bill Gorman, the chief executive of the Tea Council, was not
enthusiastic about the new development.
"If this pill has been designed to make a cup of tea, it is a
dreadful way of going about it," he said.
"Taking tea together is a social and cultural thing from the Middle
East to anywhere you want to name. Making someone a cup of tea is a
sharing and generous thing which a pill cannot replicate." Gorman added
that tea drinkers consumed over 165 million cups of tea a day and were
unlikely to give up the habit especially when research had shown that
the substance was an antioxidant which had cardiovascular health
A spokeswoman for Claridges hotel in London - which charges up to
o27.50 for "old-world" afternoon tea and cakes, scones with clear Marco
Polo jelly and pastries while a small classical orchestra plays in the
background - said a tea pill was just not cricket.
She said: "I don't think people come to Claridges for the type of
caffeine buzz provided by a pill. Definitely not. A little pill would
just be a completely different thing altogether."
John Stevenson, the Scottish communications chairman for Unison,
representing thousands of thirsty public-sector employees, was also not
"I think we'd have very serious concerns about the possibility of our
members being told to sook a pill instead of a proper cup of tea. "We'd
have to fight to bring tea breaks back if this was successfully
introduced by employers into workplaces across Scotland."