“Will you have a cup of tea?”,
You cannot go into any house in Ireland,
without being asked this question.
Anyone who has watched the comedy Father Ted,
will have laughed at the character Mrs Doyle,
and her fixation with tea.
“Ah go on, go on, go on”, she repeatedly says,
when anyone refuses.
What you may not know,
is that this is not far from the truth,
for anyone being offered a cup of tea in Ireland.
I was having a cuppa today,
and it came to my mind,
what happens in other countries?
Do others have a similar tradition?
Over here a cup of tea,
is synonymous with chat, gossip and friendship.
It is offered in good times and bad.
However there is a certain etiquette,
surrounding the offering and acceptance of a cuppa.
It would be way too simple to just say “yes please”, if asked.
Firstly the host will say,
“Would you like a cup of tea?”.
You reply, “Ah no thank you, I’m grand”.
“Are you sure?”, the host asks again.
“yes positive, but thanks anyway” you reply once more.
Then you chat awhile,
as the host fills and boils the kettle.
Once boiled the host again inquires,
“Are you sure you wouldn’t like a cuppa?”.
This time you pause,
and give the question good consideration,
before once again replying,
“No but thanks anyway, I must be heading away shortly”.
The minutes tick by and the chatting continues.
Once again the kettle is boiled,
and the host this time says,
“Well I’m having a cuppa,
are you sure you wont join me?”.
Without any hesitation on this occasion, you reply,
“Oh go on so, sure I might as well”.
At this point you settle down,
no question of rushing away,
and you both enjoy a cup of tea and a long chat.
The “cup of tea” is an age old tradition in this country.
It can be seen in every house,
in every county.
As a child you wonder at how much tea adults consume.
But as an adult you know,
the cup of tea is code for,
“Can I help?”,
“Wait til I tell you the news!”,
Or “Sit down, my friend I’m here for you”.
So if you have Irish friends,
and you offer them a beverage,
be mindful of this tradition,
and make sure to ignore their first answer,
and offer again, and maybe even again!