By Mike Pomranz
June 22, 2017
© Marc Oeder / Getty Images

The British take their tea very seriously. Just look at how angry they got over that whole Boston Tea Party thing. But even in modern times, Brits aren’t above having a scuffle over tea – and one recent incident has led airline giant British Airways to publically clarify the brand’s tea policy: For the record, it’s alright to take more than one bag, and if you really want to be a rebel, it’s even okay to mix more than one flavor.

British Airways’ unprecedented teabag policy clarification can be traced back to a November 23 post on the FlyerTalk message board. A frequent user with the handle “Orbitmic” described a recent negative experience in one of the airline’s lounges at Heathrow Airport where a BA employee watched “insistently” as the flyer looked at the tea selection. “When having (typically herbal) tea, I often pick two different flavours and mix them,” Orbitmic wrote. “I took one elderflower Darjeeling, one elderflower apple, and the cup of hot water I had just poured. This did not make her happy: ‘sir, just to inform you that it is only one tea bag at a time and for lounge consumption only.’”

The posting grabbed the attention of other FlyerTalk users who promptly labeled the BA staff member’s reaction as “petty” and “beyond comment.” But it also happened to catch the attention of someone on the forums who apparently works for British Airways. “It was an error made by a colleague. It has been dealt with,” wrote Adrianjc32. “You are welcome to create blends with a variety of tea bags.”

Always hot on the heels of a big tea-related story, popular UK paper The Telegraph eventually caught wind of the incident turned Teagate into headline news, even publishing a formal statement from British Airways. “As Brits we have strong feelings about how we like our tea, so we're disappointed that someone would dare to stand in the way of our customer producing the perfect cuppa,” a rep for the airline stated. “We'd like to assure all our customers that they are, of course, free to blend their tea as they wish.”

Of course, as many people on the FlyerTalk message board pointed out, the BA employee’s concern probably had less to do with the mixing of tea flavors and more with customers stealing enough teabags to get them through their entire vacation. “If lounge tea bags poaching is such a big issue for BA, perhaps they should start introducing quality loose tea and tea pots,” Orbitmic later suggested. And that’s when the whole thing got way too British for me to handle. Someone pass me a coffee.