He Didn’t Like the Tea: 1897

French porcelain tea caddy The Philadelphia Museum of Art


But His Scheme to Have It Better Was A Dismal Failure.

A certain suburban gentleman, who somewhat of a gourmet, discovered one day that his wife was giving him tea at 1s. 4d. to drink. Although he had never made any complaints about the quality of the tea, no sooner did he discover the price than he detected all sorts of shortcomings in the article supplied, and when he went down to business that morning he dropped into a tea store and bought a pound of orange pekoe at 3s. 6d. This he carried home in the night, and taking the opportunity of the kitchen being empty he hunted round till he found the tea caddy, which was nearly full. The contents of this he threw away and replaced it out of his own package. It had not been his intention to say anything about the substitution, but next morning he could not help referring to the improved quantity of the beverage

“This is something like tea this morning,” he said. “Don’t you notice the difference?”

“No, I don’t,” said his wife. “It tastes to me exactly like the tea we have been drinking for the last month, and so it should, for it is the same tea.” The husband laughed.

“That’s just like a woman,” he said. “You never know what is good and what isn’t unless we tell you. Now, I could have told you with my eyes shut that this tea is better than what we hove been drinking.”

“It is a pity you haven’t been drinking with your eyes shut all along,” retorted the lady. “Anyway it is the same tea.”

“Now I’ll just prove to you,” said her husband, “how defective a woman’s sense of taste is. Yesterday I bought a pound of 3s.6d. tea, threw out what was in the caddy and put mine in its place. And to think that you never noticed the difference!”

“Which cuddy did you empty?”

“One on the upper shelf of the pantry,” was the reply.

“I thought so,” said the lady quietly. “That was some special tea I keep for special occasions. The caddy with the cheap tea is in the cupboard in the kitchen, and this,” she added, with an exasperating smile, as she lifted the teapot, “was out of the selfsame caddy as it has been every morning. What a blessing it must be to you to possess such a cultivated taste! I have heard that tea tasters get very high salaries. Now, why don’t you”—

But he cut her remarks short by leaving the room.

The Bucks County Gazette [Bristol PA] 11 November 1897: p. 4

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: The gentleman who is convinced that he can cook better than his wife or other trained professional, was a familiar figure of fun in the 19th-century. Strangely, such gentlemen always get their comeuppance…

We have seen examples in Mr Greenleaf’s New Cook, How Mother Did It, and The Bullfrog Dinner.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdote

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

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