In Russia, tea is an important part of culture and society. When you tell a taxi driver or waiter to “keep the change”, in Russian you literally say “the rest is for tea”.

Of course, Russian Caravan tea is an important historical legacy, and those guys have come up with some pretty impressive samovars.

However, as I write this it looks like Aleksei Navalny, a leading opponent of Mr Putin, may have been poisoned by a substance concealed in his tea.

This follows many other well documented cases of opponents to Russian / Soviet governments being mysteriously poisoned. In particular, journalist Anna Politkovskaya was poisoned by a cup of tea in 2004, surviving to be gunned down two years later.

While being poisoned in any way, from this to a needle tipped umbrella or radioactive door handles, is deplorable, there is something extraordinarily unforgivable about poisoning someone’s tea.

A sacrosanct beverage, a moment of quiet reflection, a re-energisation; tea is all of these things, and to bend it to this foul use is absolutely unforgivable.

There is little comfort to be derived in realising that this probably nowhere near the worst crimes these people have perpetrated.


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