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“Leonard: Howard’s gonna sleep here tonight. He had a fight with his mother.
Sheldon: Did you offer him a hot beverage?
Leonard: No.
Sheldon: Leonard, social protocol states when a friend is upset, you offer them a hot beverage, such as tea.
Howard: Tea does sound nice.
Sheldon: You heard the man, Leonard. And while you’re at it, I’m upset that we have an unannounced house guest, so make me cocoa.”
Big Bang Theory, Season 4, Episode 16

“I’ll put the kettle on.”  It’s become protocol, a cliché…to offer someone a cup of tea when they are upset or sad. And I cannot find any information on where it originated. Is it from the Victorian era, when tea was a socially acceptable beverage to offer guests, particularly a lady? Let’s be honest, there aren’t too many depictions of highborn ladies sucking back a brewsky.

I said there aren’t too many – I didn’t say they didn’t exist!

Was it during prohibition when tea was more accessible than hooch? Was it with the dawn of television? In the living room of I Love Lucy as a spunky redhead wailed to her beloved friend Ethel over the latest calamity?

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In a crisis, the “fight or flight” response kicks in, suddenly releasing adrenaline into the bloodstream. Oxygen to the brain ad muscles increase to allow our bodies to cope with the impending threat. But the result can leave a person jumpy and emotional, with a reduced ability to focus and make decisions. Taking the time to cool and sip a cup of tea gives the body time to settle, and the person time to process and decide on their next course of action.

According to goldenmoontea.com, tea also has an amino acid called theanine, that reduces stress. With the addition of caffeine, it boosts brain activity and mood, increasing a feeling of relaxation. Theonine also helps boost white blood cells, which helps prevent illness.

Whatever the reason, there is something soothing about the invitation to sit together and to talk through troubles, while savouring a hot beverage. It’s time to put the kettle on…

There is no trouble so great or grave that cannot be much diminished by a nice cup of tea. – Bernard-Paul Heroux

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Do you have a theory? I’d love to  hear it!