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US Embassy officially responds to 'salt in tea' controversy by trolling the Brits even more

It's been 250 years since the Boston Tea Party, yet we're still sticking it to our tea-loving friends across the pond.

The U.S. Embassy put out a press release addressing the tea controversy threatening our "Special Relationship" with the U.K.

If there's one thing British culture is universally known for, it's tea. And if there's one thing Americans are known for in Britain, it's mucking up tea.

Admittedly, Americans' relationship with the U.K. and its tea is a bit…complicated. After all, it was Britain's taxation of imported tea that served as both a symbol and catalyst for the Revolutionary War, made famous by the so-called Boston Tea Party in 1773. (For those not steeped in American history, colonists famously dumped tea from British ship in Boston Harbor overnight in protest over being taxed without representation. They also tried to pin it on Native Americans, dressing as Mohawk Indians to disguise their identities, but that's another story for another time.)

Our complicated tea relationship just took an unexpected turn, as an American scientist dared to suggest that the secret to a perfect cup of tea is to add a bit of salt to it, which naturally caused the entire United Kingdom to lose its everlovin' mind.

Michelle Francl, a chemistry professor at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, argues in her book, "Steeped: The Chemistry of Tea," that sodium in salt can counteract the chemical process that causes tea to taste bitter, to which the British say, "Rubbish! Poppycock!"


“A scientist from the country where you can find tea being made with lukewarm water from the tap claims to have found the recipe for a perfect cuppa,” British newspaper The Guardian quipped.

The Brits take their tea-making seriously, using a kettle to heat the water to just the right temperature and steeping their tea for a set amount of time, while Americans dare to pop a mug of water in the microwave and haphazardly leave their tea bag for however long they feel like. (It's kind of a perfect example of ingrained American rebellion against monarchical tradition, really.)

Folks at the U.S. Embassy in the U.K. recognized that salt-in-tea controversy had landed the nation in some hot water, so they issued an official response. And naturally, it includes some lighthearted trolling of our friends across the pond.

"An important statement on the latest tea controversy," the Embassy wrote on X, with an image of an official United States Embassy Press Release.

It begins by explaining that media reports of an American professor's "perfect" cup of tea recipe "has landed our special bond with the United Kingdom in hot water."

"Tea is the elixir of camaraderie," it continues, "a sacred bond that unites our nations. We cannot stand idly by as such an outrageous proposal threatens the very foundation of our Special Relationship."

Ohhh, somebody at the Embassy had their cookies today.

"Therefore we want to ensure the good people of the UK that the unthinkable notion of adding salt to Britain's national drink is not official United States policy. And never will be," reassured the Embassy. "Let us unite in our steeped solidarity and show the world that when it comes to tea, we stand as one."

A perfectly diplomatic response, followed by the ultimate American tea troll:

"The U.S. Embassy will continue to make tea in the proper way—by microwaving it."

Oh yes, they did.

Now, some may lament that an official government agency would have the time to troll an entire country over a cup of tea, but it's not like the U.S. Embassy in the U.K. is on a complex diplomatic mission. Our countries have been close friends and allies for a long time, despite our fight for independence in the 18th century, so a little friendly banter is just what we should expect.

For their part, the U.K. government officially responded with a quintessentially understated retort.

"We appreciate our Special Relationship, however, we must disagree wholeheartedly… Tea can only be made using a kettle."

The U.K. Defence Journal offered a bit stronger of a reaction, writing, "The United Kingdom will be declaring war on the United States."

Perhaps we can all sit down and discuss this civilly…over a cup of microwaved tea.

It's not easy facing a bully, but what do you do when you're confronted with a whole mob of them?

During President Donald Trump's visit to London last week, a crowd of his supporters and anti-Muslim protesters rallied in central London.

The protesters fixated their attention on a bus driven by a headscarf-wearing woman. The mob held up Islamophobic and pro-Trump signs, some shouted racial epithets, and a topless man ran up to the windshield and began verbally assaulting the driver.


It's hard to imagine what to do when you're targeted in a heated situation like that, but one inspiring photo showed the woman's powerful response: a smile.

The photo went viral in admiration of how she remained so calm, collected, and unfazed by the mob of protesters.

However, some people disagree with celebrating the bus driver's calmness. In their opinion, fascists and racists shouldn't be afforded civility.

Acts of racism like this are increasing at an alarming rate — particularly in the U.K.

In the United Kingdom, the Muslim and South Asian communities are often targeted by the English Defense League — a white supremacist organization — and far-right politicians. In June 2017, two Muslim cousins were attacked with acid in a hate crime. In October 2017, the U.K. Home Office released a report revealing a 29% increase in hate crimes compared with the previous year. Furthermore, out of all the hate crimes between 2016 and 2017, 78% were racially motivated.

But the headscarf-wearing woman is setting an example and offering us a glimpse of hope. She kept doing her job and refused to be baited by their hate. Despite the racist protests and scare tactics used, we still know that we're on the right side of history.

If you're an American who's not so sure what the difference is between Great Britain, the United Kingdom, and England, you're not alone.

During his recent trip to London, President Donald Trump showed he isn't exactly up to speed on the terminology either. In an interview with Piers Morgan, Trump was asked about the incentive for the United States to work out a trade agreement with the United Kingdom, Trump stumbled a bit:

"We would make a great deal with the United Kingdom because they have product that we like. I mean they have a lot of great product. They make phenomenal things, you know, and you have different names — you can say 'England,' you can say 'U.K.,' you can say 'United Kingdom' so many different — you know you have, you have so many different names — Great Britain. I always say: 'Which one do you prefer? Great Britain? You understand what I’m saying?'"

When Morgan stepped in to note that Great Britain and the U.K. weren't exactly the same, Trump said, "Right, yeah. You know I know, but a lot of people don't know that. But you have lots of different names."


A look at the British Isles.

He's probably right about that last part, and to be totally real, it's nothing to be embarrassed about. Should you find yourself in a situation where that kind of knowledge is useful, here's a quick guide.

There's a lot of overlap between the British Isles, Great Britain, and the United Kingdom. For instance, England is part of all three groups, and all that overlap can make it a little tricky to remember the distinctions. (Full disclosure: I wasn't personally up to speed on this until just a few years ago so don't feel bad if you're not either.)

The British Isles

The British Isles aren't a country or political alliance. This is just a geographic term used to describe England, Wales, Scotland, the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, and the small islands spread out along the coasts. There probably aren't too many contexts where you'll need to use this term, but it's good to know.

The British Isles.

The United Kingdom

The United Kingdom is a sovereign state made up of four separate countries: England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. Until 1922, the Republic of Ireland was also part of the United Kingdom. London is the capital of the United Kingdom. The area's formal name is The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Knowing this, it's pretty easy to guess what Great Britain is...

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Each of the four individual countries has its own flag.

From top left, clockwise: Northern Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales.

But together, they're all represented under the Union Jack.

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The flag combines elements of the English, Northern Irish, and Scottish flags. It's also known as the Union Jack.

Great Britain

Great Britain is the United Kingdom without Northern Ireland. It's made up of England, Wales, and Scotland. One way to remember the difference between the United Kingdom and Great Britain is that the United Kingdom unites two separate islands, whereas Great Britain is all part of one basic landmass. It's important not to use Great Britain and the United Kingdom interchangeably for a number of political reasons.

Great Britain.

This all probably seems pretty silly, but these are questions that do come up from time to time. Now, odds are that none of us are ever going to find ourselves in the position of being the President of the United States asked in an interview about this, but you never really know when you'll end up in an "Oh man, what's the difference between the United Kingdom and Great Britain?" pickle. For those moments, feel free to bookmark this page.

37 years ago, vaccines drove smallpox into extinction. Polio is about to be on death's doorstep. Now the U.K. can say it has added one more name to its personal kill list — measles.

According to a new report from the World Health Organization, Denmark, Spain, and the United Kingdom in 2016 successfully eliminated the measles virus.

The secret behind this achievement is something simple: vaccines and herd immunity.

It's important to note that, as the WHO defines it, "elimination" doesn't mean "completely wiped out." There were still about 1,600 cases in the United Kingdom last year.


Instead, the WHO reports, the United Kingdom has "interrupted endemic transmission." That is to say, enough people are vaccinated that even if someone does catch the virus, it's effectively impossible for the disease to spread. This phenomenon is commonly referred to as herd immunity, and it didn't happen overnight.

This is the culmination of a long, steady vaccination campaign.

Vaccination campaigns can sometimes face challenges — inadequate supply, unequal access to health services, and hesitancy or misinformation.

Still, the four countries of the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland) have managed to reach a 95% measles, mumps, and rubella vaccination rate in children younger than 5 years old.

While measles might sound relatively innocuous, it's a serious, potentially deadly disease, especially for children. Measles can cause permanent hearing loss, encephalitis, and death. It can also cause babies to be born prematurely if a pregnant woman contracts the disease. Eliminating it is a big achievement.

The United Kingdom is not the first country to achieve this goal. According to the WHO, 42 out of 53 European countries have achieved elimination.

This news shows that with dedicated, sustained efforts, we can chase some of our greatest specters back into the shadows.

There's still plenty to be done. The U.K. will need to keep up its high vaccination rates and keep the herd immunity strong, or else the disease may gain a foothold once again. But with the vast majority of European countries having now eliminated this disease, measles might soon be marching down the same path as smallpox.