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Nice News

Your up to the minute source for news in the fast moving world of tea and sit downs.

If you have some nice news that you think we should know about, it might be that you've spotted a long lost biscuit, or maybe you've found somewhere that does splendid tea and sits downs, then why not email us at the usual address.

PG Tips want to say thanks

Tuesday 14 Oct 2008 Reporter: Nicey
PG tips is scouring the nation for people who have made outstanding contributions to the world of tea drinking. Whether you have served PG tips for decades as a tea lady, always get the rounds in at work, or have simply cheered others up over a cuppa, PG tips wants to know and wants to say a big thank you.
Why the thank you? Well for some time now PG tips has been teamed up with the Rainforest Alliance to ensure the sustainable sourcing of its tea. Every cup of PG tips tea drunk continues to support tea farmers and their families, so this nation of dedicated tea drinkers can give itself a pat on the back for choosing to brew up delicious PG tips tea.
Brits get through more than 150 million cups of tea every day and with Rainforest Alliance’s seal of approval every sip of PG tips tea really does count! To say a special thank you PG tips is going to lay on the ultimate tea drinking experience for four lucky winners and their colleagues, You can all sit back and enjoy butler service and an all-round tea drinking oasis in your very own workplace by emailing stating why you deserve this treat. The lucky winners will also receive an amazing tea drinking kit, including a year’s supply of PG tips (four boxes of 240 tea bags), an eco kettle, a signed picture of Monkey, and a Monkey mug. So if you always make a cuppa for a friend when you put the kettle on, or you remember to buy your workmate’s favourite biscuits for tea breaks, let us know about it!
Tea is the second biggest export in Kenya and so the way in which it is farmed has a big impact on the lives of the people in the country. The Rainforest Alliance Certified™ status earned by PG tips’ tea suppliers helps to ensure that tea farmers and their families receive a good education, good health care, housing and earn a decent income. Rainforest Alliance and PG tips are also helping to protect the natural habitat where tea is grown.

Custard Cream makes the OED

Thursday 3 Jul 2008 Reporter: Nicey
It seems that after more than a hundred years the Custard Cream biscuit has finally made it into the the Concise Oxford English Dictionary. Whilst we are thrilled for the Custard Cream we can't help but feel that once again the OED is being dragged inexorably into the world of internet rumours, half truths and hastily cobbled together media reports of which this very item almost certainly contributes towards.
Last year's survey by wheat free specialist biscuit baker Trufree proclaimed the Custard Cream as the favourite in their limited range of products. Catering for coeliacs, 9 out of 10 people surveyed preferred Trufree's Custard Creams. This has been widely misinterpreted so many times through out the media as applying to all biscuits available in the UK that it has now acquired almost 'urban legend' status. It's a few simple media hyperbole away from 'The custard cream was voted the nations favourite biscuit last year' when in fact its the chocolate digestive. Having a page on Wikipeadia compound it by saying it won the non-existent "UK Biscuit of the Year Award" 12 times does little to help either, and even this gets misquoted as 13 times.
So it appears in a what must be a slow year for new words the authors of the OED have fallen for all this babble and rather embarrassingly called up the old timer who they've over looked since the reign of Queen Victoria. Far be it for us to denigrate the OEDs sources but when it appears that the jolly banter of the internet which we are proud to be a part of is evidently affecting their judgement you do start to wonder about the the overall integrity of information held within. Plus their Jaffa Cake definition is woeful too.
Personally I've never been keen on dictionaries in general. They are always promoted by people who are clever at spelling but colossally stupid at simple logic. Saying such glib things as 'if you can't spell the word look it up in the dictionary', a statement which contains two logical errors. First if I can't spell it correctly how am I supposed to realise this? As far as I'm concerned it's spelt perfectly. Secondly how am I supposed to find a word that I can't spell? You need to know which letters and where they go in-order to find it, with Dictionarys being organised that way you know.

Biscuits are crucial in business

Monday 2 Jun 2008 Reporter: Nicey
In a survey of over a 1000 business professionals carried out by Holiday Inn last year over 80% claimed that the biscuit selection could influence the outcome of a meeting. Of course this comes as no surprise to readers of NCOTAASD as we have often been asked for a bit of impromptu biscuit consultancy by those enlightened types who want to ensure that their meeting goes as smoothly as possible. We have also heard what a negative impact poorly chosen biscuits can have.
Holiday Inn's survey found that the most popular choices as sensible biscuits were chocolate digestives, shortbread and Hobnobs. They also found that 2 biscuits was considered a polite quantity for people to take.
In our opinion its fair to say that those dreadful continental biscuit assortments are the kiss of death to a good meeting. Not only are the biscuits covered in very bitter chocolate that doesn't go well with tea, they are also small and unsatisfying. This leads to a lack of focus as people either day dream about proper biscuits or try to figure out which of the woefully undersized selection is the least objectionable.

Nuclear war could have led to weak tea

Monday 5 May 2008 Reporter: Nicey
In Cold War documents just released from the National Archive it transpires that those tasked with planning and forecasting for aftermath of an all out nuclear strike on 1950s Britain were concerned about the lack of tea. Whitehall officials thought that on the whole the UK agency for the stockpiling and distribution of food could ''with difficulty" cope "with a few A Bombs".
However, the detailed projections for the supply of tea were for disturbingly low levels of only one ounce per person per week. Half of the WWII ration and only a quarter of the amount considered as normal. Tea was seen as a vital morale boosting aid to the nation, and its no surprise the planners were still preoccupied with it only ten years after the end of WWII. At the start of WWI when supply ships were sunk by U Boats the government took it upon itself to ensure the nations tea supply taking over its importation and controlling its price. Just two days after WWII broke out the government ordered all tea stocks to be dispersed from London to safer warehouses out side of the capital in case of bombing. Those who had particularly thirsty jobs crucial to the war effort such as steel workers or firemen got a bigger ration.

World's longest sofa comes to Harrods

Tuesday 29 Apr 2008 Reporter: Nicey
We do tend to dwell on the tea and biscuits here and take the sit downs for granted. However, Harrods have been in touch to let us know about one sit down that is very difficult to gloss over.
Danish furniture company Bo Concept has designed a record breaking sofa that is 51metres long and seats 104 people (its the red thing in the picture above). On Sunday 4th May Harrods is inviting people to come to Basil Street at the back of the Harrods store to take part in a photo shoot.
The sofa which has 54 legs and weighs one and a quarter tonnes is just over 50 meters in length.

Fig Roll Crisis goes mainstream

Tuesday 22 Apr 2008 Reporter: Nicey
Back at the beginning of April NCOTAASD brought you news of the unfolding fig roll crisis across the country. The situation has now become so serious that its made several of the national daily papers, and we have spent most of last week doing radio interviews on the situation.
Although there have been sporadic sightings of fig rolls, these are mainly due to buffer stocks being run down, as the last few fig rolls are flushed from the supply chain. Despite our earlier conjecture that all the Fig Roll machines had simply "gone wrong", it seems that the other possibility that a shortage of figs was behind it was the correct reason. The vast majority of the figs used to make our fig rolls are imported from Turkey. Last summer whilst we wallowed around in the rain and gloom Turkey and other Mediterranean countries had a scorching hot drought. This badly affected the fig harvest. In fact the Guardian reported on Friday that a species of pollenating wasp which attends to the fig flowers was laid low by the conditions hence the poor yield.
The situation has been compounded by the a FSA finding that some batches of the heat stressed figs are showing above permitted levels of a naturally occurring fungal toxin. Whilst these levels are not dramatically high it is recommending that manufacturers re-test all their figs.
Jacob's have indicated that they will be sourcing Figs from the USA and should have production back to normal by the month end. It seems likely that other manufacturers will also follow suit. Hopefully the Turkish fig growers can bounce back.

Hyper active kids could do for the Battenburg

Thursday 10 Apr 2008 Reporter: Nicey
Whilst all the attention today is focused on the teacake and its VAT woes another story which might be even more important is in danger of slipping under the radar (in the manner of Hobbits evading the gaze of Sauron at the end of the Return of the King (actually I'm not sure that it ever did end)). A European food watchdog has research that indicates a link with commonly used food colourings and hyper activity in children who had consumed them.
In the UK the Food Standards Agency has today advised that it would like to see the complete removal of the six additives, E102 Tartrazine, E104 Quinoline yellow, E110 Sunset yellow, E122 Carmoisine, E124 Ponceau 4R and E129 Allura red AC from foods. However, that would require Europe wide mandatory action which could take years to come about. In the meanwhile the FSA would like to see manufactures voluntarily remove them.
Naturally derived alternatives have such as Annato for yellow and Beetroot red are available, and have been used increasingly by manufacturers keen to free their products from artificial colours. However, even these are not with out their problems both technically and nutritionally. So it may be that many products will be forced to radically change their appearance or be withdrawn altogether. Battenburgs and Pink wafers beware.

Lets make tea for 10 million

Tuesday 8 Apr 2008 Reporter: Nicey
NCOTAASD chaplain the Revd Stephen Day has spotted us yet another charity fund raising tea based opportunity coming up later this month.
Save the Children are having a whole week of action from the 27th April till 3rd May 2008, to help raise money for simple items that could save some of the 10 million lives lost each year before their 5th birthday to easily preventable causes.
The Tea-potty events will be taking place all week long and there are lots of download-able resources on their website such as a useful event poster and a guide to putting on your own event which gives you an idea of how the money will be put to good use.

Nationwide Fig Roll Crisis

Wednesday 2 Apr 2008 Reporter: Nicey
I had put the dearth of Fig Rolls two weeks ago both own brand and Jacob's in our local Tesco down to a mere blip in the supply chain. However, it turns out that a Fig Roll crisis is unfolding across the UK, as several NCOTAASD readers have mailed us on the matter.
Graham Walker mailed to say that "our local Sainsburys actually has a sign up apologizing to customers for the low stocks of said biscuit." The sign reads This is due to the current shortage across the industry of fig biscuits.
Laura Malik from Huddersfield also has been in touch to say that her local Morrisons is right out of them too.
Here at NCOTAASD we don't have any further information, and are purely whipping up unrest and tension by reporting these second hand accounts of the matter.
Still we would like to speculate that a global shortage of figs would seem to be the most likely explanation. The second wilder explanation is that the machine that makes them has suffered some catastrophic failure. It is our theory that there are 3 such machines. One in Ireland that makes the Jacobs ones, and possibly a copy of it in Liverpool. A huge one at one of Burton's sites that makes most of them (all the supermarket branded ones), and a little tiny-weeny one that make the Crawfords one. We theorise that taking out the Burton's one could probably bring down the whole UK Fig Roll industry, with the other players not being able to keep up with demand. As there are no reports in the press of biscuit factories being hit by terrorists, earthquakes or rocks falling from space we reluctantly concede that the first explanation looks the most likely.
Actually Laura has since emailed ASDA who said there was a problem with the paste but didn't comment further.

McDonald's switch to PG

Friday 28 Mar 2008 Reporter: Nicey
McDonald's has just become the biggest supplier of Rainforest Alliance Certified hot drinks on UK high streets by switching its tea supply to PG Tips. McDonald's which switched its coffee supplies to Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee in 2007 expects to sell 24 million cups of tea in the coming year.
As we reported last week PG Tips currently consists of 50% tea sourced from certified farms with this figure rising to 100% by 2010.
With more consumers wanting to purchase ethically sourced products but with many still unlikely to pay a price premium McDonald's is betting that they have stuck the right balance here. Here at NCOTAASD we now know that we can get PG Tips in a McDonald's which could prove valuable information in a tight spot.