Recently, my wife and I settled in for an evening marathon of Barry with six cartons of tea bags, two pairs of scissors and a bowl. Without streaming, we wouldn't have enjoyed those hours cutting open the bags and tipping the contents into airtight jars nearly as much.
I should probably begin at the beginning.
This is officially a green household, although God forbid we should ever be audited by the Environment Police. Case in point: tea bags. If ever, you might think, there was something that fit the green mould, surely it is these familiar and friendly beverages in bags. No water wasted. Residue straight on the compost. Could anything be more environmentally responsible, in a down-home domestic kind of way than the humble teabag?
One day, as they roamed passively from website to website, my eyes fell upon something that said teabags were not compostable.
Closer inspection revealed some science and the names of several culpable brands, including one of which we had an enormous store.
It's all to do with the polypropylene which seals the bags so that tea leaves don't float loose in the cup. But that plastic can seep into water when it is heated, which teabags so often are. There's more about endocrine disruptors and the possible effects on human hormone levels but I already had the gist: plastic teabags are bad.
I don't drink tea, nor do I have much confidence in the notion that kitchen-scale acts are going to save the planet, so it didn't have that much impact on me and I tucked it away in that part of the brain to which things we don't absolutely have to remember are confined.
But not long afterward, it clawed its way to the surface and before I knew what I was doing I had said: "Do you know teabags aren't compostable?"
Reader, if I could have reached out and snatched back the words from the air between my mouth and her ears, I would have done so.
There followed an argument at a pitch that has previously been reached on so few occasions I struggle to remember one.
Finally, to prove my case, I had recourse to research and produced the list of offending brands, which included her personal favourite, of which we had a shelf-full in the house because it is a UK brand and my wife likes to stock up when she sees it.
Who would have thought that the humble teabag hid so much danger – insinuating itself into our homes with its payload of environmental catastrophe and marital discord? Hence our evening of tea de-bagging and a future free of worry about the possible negative hormonal consequences of a cuppa.
But it raised the question: when did making tea and coffee become so complicated? We haven't even accessorised our kitchen with a steampunk Italian espresso machine – which is unusual for people in our demographic. We have just four non-motorised coffee-making devices: a Bialetti stovetop whatsit, filter, plunger, Aerobie AeroPress coffeemaker plus several varieties of instant coffee because every time a new one comes on the market you buy it hoping maybe this time it will be an acceptable substitute for when you're in a hurry. We also have a thing which froths milk for an ersatz cappuccino.
If ever evidence of capitalism manufacturing demand was needed, here it lay. Then there's the whole politics of how coffee is grown and harvested and who gets a fair day's pay for a fair day's work.
Not so long ago everyone made their tea in a pot and drank instant coffee out of a jar. The coffee may not have tasted that good but we didn't know any better. And we didn't have to worry about its long-term effect on the universe.
Coffee-making equipment consisted of a jar of coffee and a teaspoon and I think we were happier in those days. I'm not sure why. Probably because we never had to aspire to an upgrade on our De'Longhi La Specialista Espresso Machine.