Johnny, Tea and Me

On the weekend whilst enjoying my usual morning cup of coffee, I started thinking about how the habit had come about since during my early years, drinking tea was such a huge part of my life.

My lovely father Johnny was a creature of habit; you could set your watch by him. He was hard working, talented, and patient and had the best sense of humour.  He was also a seriously dedicated tea drinker. Right on the dot at 7.20 am every morning he would knock on my door with the newspaper and a delicious steaming hot cup of loose leaf Lanchoo Tea.  He did this every day until the day I married and moved out!

At 7.30 am he would wheel his Honda 50 or ‘Postie Bike’ out and in all kinds of weather ride to the other end of town with his crib (Broken Hill/Cornish slang for food, provisions or light meal) and thermos of tea to begin his day as an Electrician on the North Mine.

3. Johnny and Tea

Johnny Wharburton – first on the left. Electricians going underground to electrify the shaft. They would literally be lowered down in the bucket behind them.

At 4.00 pm the Mine whistles blew signalling the end of the day shift and the beginning of night shift.  You knew for certain that Johnny would be wheeling in the gate at exactly 4.20 pm and the family gathering of afternoon tea would begin! In fact I can remember most of the mining families in our street followed the same ritual. Tables would be set with the Lanchoo tablecloths carefully saved for and selected from the catalogue, along with homemade biscuits, scones, patty cakes or fruit cake cut into very small columns.

For me the words “drinking tea” stir up memories of drinking tea with the family, tea with my gran, ‘Billy’ tea on our family camping trips, thermos tea on our annual holiday trips to Adelaide, tea at smoko time on the property and tea at CWA … tea, how did we come together before tea!

“Tea is certainly as much of a social drink as coffee, and more domestic, for the reason that the teacup hours are the family hours.” Arthur Gray – The Little Tea Book.

So back to my thoughts and why now, I’m so fond of coffee.  Barry and I went walking on the weekend and came across a delightful little coffee shop.  We ordered a Latte and a Mocha which were promptly delivered with such beautiful, intricately decorated froth; we were slightly hesitant to drink them.

coffee 3

For me now my morning tea in bed and afternoon family tea has been replaced with coffee shops and cafes, lattes and mochas.  When and why did I switch my love and devotion from tea to coffee?

On moving to Goodwood Station in the 70’s I was introduced to the ‘delicacy’ of coffee and powdered milk by my father in law.  To this day, the memory of lumpy powdered milk floating in my coffee is enough to make me go many extra miles for fresh milk! In those days coffee making consisted of a teaspoon of International Roast, milk and sugar and hot water … that was it! Now we have Caffe Latte, Cappuccino, Macchiato, Piccolo, Ristretto, Espresso, Vienna, Mocha, Affogato, Long Black, Flat White – the list goes on.


Recently when I had a spring clean I found a drip filter coffee machine, plungers, a vacuum machine, a pod machine, an espresso machine and a milk frother. It seems my love of coffee has developed into something of an obsession.

Although I don’t drink as much tea now as I did in the  ‘good old days’ and it’s certainly not such a focal point in my life, it will always be like an old friend who I look upon with great fondness. As my wonderful Dad used to say, “A cup of tea can fix anything”.

Do you remember saving the end of the Lanchoo tea packet and with great excitement be able to select a gift from the Lanchoo catalogue?

lanchoo tea

Sign Up and Be Counted


As I drink my second cup of coffee for the day and write to you about our petition to ban the sale of energy drinks (EDs) to children under 18, I ponder discussions with my own children on this subject and the possible side effects of consuming too many. Their oft touted and very quick responses were along the lines of “no worse than your coffee, mum” and “the label says I can have….”

I thought about uttering the old “do as I say, not as I do” but reminded myself of the equally old “practice what you preach”, so decided instead to do some research. After locating my visual aids and a good source of light, the label lists ingredients such as….caffeine, sugar, taurine, herbal supplements, ephedrine, ginseng, guarana, etc. Some are found naturally and in all sorts of places, apparently.

Further reading from other sources indicates that by far the biggest issue is the amount of caffeine and the adverse effects when consumed in the quantities found in most EDs; insomnia, headache, rapid heart rate, nervousness, hypertension, anxiety, diarrhoea and caffeine dependence. The average energy drink contains 160 – 300mg caffeine per 500 ml serve. Coffee has 80 – 160mg and tea 40 – 120mg for an equivalent amount i.e. two cups.

Studies show that young teenagers who frequently consume these drinks on their way to school are more disruptive in class, have poor concentration and some have been admitted to hospital suffering heart palpitations. My morning coffee doesn’t do that and what happened to good old Weet Bix for energy?

A recent paper printed in the Medical Journal of Australia (Med J Aust 2012; 196 (1): 46-49) has shown that since 2004 there has been a 357% increase* in the number of calls made to the NSW Poisons Information Centre reporting caffeine toxicity from energy drink consumption among adolescents. The median age of these callers was 17 years and more than half of all calls were due solely to energy drink consumption – without alcohol.

photo_2030_20061012Another statistic: the sale of energy drinks is growing by more than 8 per cent a year. Last year they made up more than 35 per cent of all drinks sold in convenience stores, outdoing soft drinks, which came in at 31.5%. Interestingly, the Food Standards Code limits caffeine in soft drinks to a maximum of 145 milligrams/kg and our advice is that the industry has committed to no ‘direct marketing and advertising of EDs to children’. Yet they are sold on the same shelves, from the same outlets with no restrictions.

If, like me, you think we should clip those wings, then you might like to sign our petition. You’ll find details of your closest branch here, even in the city, so give them a call.

Time for a cup of…..tea, I think 🙂

* Percentage increase is from 65 reports in 2004 to 297 in 2010 – of which at least 128 cases
required hospitalisation.