I came across the phrase ‘The clock strikes four and everything stops for tea’ (in Mandarin) when I was studying black tea in Hangzhou. Now I’ve tracked its origin to this wonderful song (from Jack Buchanan’s 1935 comedy film “Come Out Of The Pantry”) and I just can’t get the tune out of my head!

The tea he’s singing about is black tea and this blog post is a prelude to my forthcoming blog post on Keemun (Qimen) Black tea.

So on this hot summer day, why not brew some black tea the good old English way when the clock strikes four?

Every nation in creation has its favourite drink

France is famous for its wine, it’s beer in Germany
Turkey has its coffee and they serve it blacker than ink
Russians go for vodka

and England loves its tea

Oh, the factories may be roaring
With a boom-a-lacka, zoom-a-lacka, wee
But there isn’t any roar when the clock strikes four
Everything stops for tea


Jack Buchanan – When the clock strikes four, Everything stops for tea

Oh, a lawyer in the courtroom
In the middle of an alimony plea
Has to stop and help ’em pour when the clock strikes four
Everything stops for tea

It’s a very good English custom
Though the weather be cold or hot
When you need a little pick-up, you’ll find a little tea cup
Will always hit the spot

You remember Cleopatra
Had a date to meet Mark Anthony at three
When he came an hour late she said “You’ll have to wait”
For everything stops for tea

Oh, they may be playing football
And the crowd is yelling “Kill the referee!”
But no matter what the score, when the clock strikes four
Everything stops for tea

Oh, the golfer may be golfing
And is just about to make a hole-in-three
But it always gets them sore when the clock yells “four!”
Everything stops for tea

It’s a very good English custom
And a stimulant for the brain
When you feel a little weary, a cup’ll make you cheery
And it’s cheaper than champagne

Now I know just why Franz Schubert
Didn’t finish his unfinished symphony
He might have written more but the clock struck four
And everything stops for tea

Warmly,

Pei
pei@teanamu.com
~~ sip a good brew, steal a slice of tranquility, glimpse a lingering fragrance, gladden the heart and refresh the mind ~~