Moreover, a quick visit to any chaikhane will confirm that -- to varying degrees, of course -- Iranians also like to drink their tea piping hot.
Put the two together, BBC says, and voila:
The research appears to have been spawned by the prevalence of esophageal cancer among men and women in northern Iran. The "Los Angeles Times" summed it up like this:
Grim news for consumers of scalding beverages everywhere.
But there's a lesson here in the prudence of custom, as it were. Because whether you're at that same chaikhane or visiting an Iranian home, you're also likely to see people pouring tea onto their saucers (and popping a lump of sugar into their mouths) before drinking it. Cooling it and, presumably, helping avert a possible health risk.
There is, of course, more than one way to cool a drink: some cultures dictate holding the teapot up high to froth the tea as it hits the cup or pouring the tea back and forth to similar effect; others prescribe ritualistic stalling techniques.
Then there's milk. And the sentence in BBC's article that prompted the most discussion in our newsroom:
Really? I'd like to see the statistics on that one. Seems a tad Anglophile, since our own little straw poll (sample size: four) suggested precisely the opposite, outside of the United Kingdom and Australia (unless by "Western" they mean India or Pakistan).
-- Andy Heil and Golnaz Esfandiari