Benedict Cumberbatch, whose British bonafides include pronouncing the letter “Z” as “zed,” would like to correct the world on a long-standing fallacy. On The Dave Barry Breakfast Show on U.K.’s Absolute Radio, the seemingly placid Cumberbatch practically exploded:
“Should I just really vent now? I’m sick of chamomile tea being called tea! It’s not tea!”
(Note: Cumberbatch doesn’t pronounce it as chamo-MEEL, but chamo-MILE.)
Cumberbatch, promoting his title role in the animated feature The Grinch, reasons that unlike the Assams, Darjeelings, and Oolongs of the world—leaves that are grown in specific climates and cultivated in specific ways—chamomile is a flower, and therefore, when brewed should not be referred to as tea. I understand that logic: It’d be like steeping coffee beans in hot water and calling it “coffee tea.”
The Guardian picks up the conversation with a helpful primer. They say a more accurate term for chamomile tea would be “herbal infusion” or the French term “tisane.” But no one is going to say that, and so Cumberbatch’s complaints will likely go unheeded.
In other news, look forward to The Takeout’s forthcoming feature: Is Chamomile Tea A Sandwich?