Oh yeah, I love fish in my tea

So after trotting home last week from London – I say trotting, it was more of a slump back as I got ill on the last day with the usual end of term cold/cough/deathlike feeling. It had managed to stay away for a week longer than previously, so you know, hats off to the immune system to lasting just that little bit longer. Anyhow, after trotting home with my bag full of goodies I was really looking forward to providing my mum with some ‘beauty tea’ which I had picked up on Friday lunch. I had thought ‘oh fab, some crazy sounding tea…mum likes things like that, I’ll give it to her’.

Now living in a house full of vegetarians, with everyone else not having dairy products either, makes us rather savvy when it comes to checking packets. I pride myself on the fact that I know the contents of the vast majority of random ingredients to watch out for. Now, despite this customary wariness to new food stuffs, I have never felt the need to check the packaging on tea. Because, well, it’s tea. Which is a leaf. Which is picked, traditionally, by hand and dried. Normally I do not have alarm bells ringing telling me that I need to be concerned about the animal products that may be contained within tea, but maybe, just maybe, this is naïvety which will become shattered as I turn old and grey.

Anyhow, I’ve managed to avoid drinking dead animals thus far and I don’t feel the need to change my habits now, so when I was given a box of ‘beauty tea: red tea with collagen protein, apple favour and honey flavour’ I didn’t think to check whether it was veggie, because, well it’s tea. So back home, with box in hand, I announced I had a gift for mother fresh from the office, which claimed to be beautiful. Or make you beautiful, I can’t remember which.

Taking the packet out of my bag, mum asked what sort of tea they used. I could only reply that it was red, so I turned to the back to find the ingredients, which as noted before I have never felt the need to do before. On noting that you needed to dissolve the content of the package in 100ml of hot or cold water, I decided that this wasn’t the tea that I was necessarily hoping for. This wasn’t going to be normal tea. So we decided to investigate further and in doing so discover that this tea contained Hydrolysed (fish)Collagen Protein…. FISH, FISH IN TEA. NO THAT’S JUST PLAIN WRONG. Also, whilst the makers of beauty tea felt the need to put in bold font that it was GLUTEN FREE, they didn’t feel the need to put in bold font CONTAINS FISH.

So there I was just a kettles boil away from downing fishy tea, without the makers of the product making it clear that it contained this random, strange additive. Call me old fashioned, but I think it is equally important, if not more so – to be completely frank – to make it clear that a product contains fish not just that it is gluten free.

Oh great, anyone who likes to avoid gluten will be happy but all those who don’t consume meat or fish products will be left with a sour taste knowing that they clearly aren’t considered equally by the beauty tea company.

So Merry Christmas beauty tea, you nearly took away my life long abstinence from fish products but never fear I noticed before it was too late. And now, rather than writing about how marvellous your product was, I am writing a rant about how you failed to package and label your product correctly. Oh, ’tis the season to be jolly.

The offending item
The offending item

Hello, this is Asia Lambert from The Times

For anyone who is even remotely interested in journalism, I swear this is a real gold dust phrase, or at least when I get to say it it makes me feel special…like a 5 year old at Christmas. Slightly cringe, I know, but still, it’s true.

The reason I bring this up is because I spent some of my day ringing up stores getting to use these 8 wonderful words and in doing so I realised how much the Union has helped me. I used to be so afraid of the phone. I would actively avoid making calls if they weren’t to anyone other than my parents, and the only friend I could muster the courage to hold a conversation with was Jenny, my best friend of the past 8 years or so. Fast forward, I now spend part of my week working at the Cambridge Union ringing up publishers and agents and begging them to give me contact details and email addresses…pretty handy seeing as that was essentially what I had to do today, except it sounded slightly more authoritative and everyone likes publicity so they were much more compliant.

Today, on a slightly worrying note, marks my penultimate day at The Times this year. I don’t mean to sound up-my-self but I worked here last summer so I feel like I can pretend that this is going to be a tradition that continues on indefinitely. Whether or not this becomes a reality I will have to leave to the hands of the journalistic Gods, but for now I’ll run with it.

In addition to finding my voice today (unfortunately for the rest of the world I don’t mean this literally) I have learnt the true meaning of Christmas in the office. FREE GIFTS. So many winged their way to the desks today from companies wishing to best please the journalists who have pushed forward their brands onto the pages. Sitting on the fashion desk meant I saw personalised beanie hats from Whistles, shirts, scalves, books, sweets and, of course, a never ending supply of fancy chocolates. I was super lucky in being offered a load of tasters and feel like I’ve probably consumed my weight in macaroons, chocolate, nut and marzipan creations. They’ve all been amazing, and all provided simply as a company thank you for some kind words in print. I didn’t realise that it was such a strong practice, but looking over the office and counting the sheer volume of packages, bags and boxes under and next to desks, empty wrappers and cartons, I can safely say that the journalist wins at this time of year.

So, with a heavy heart (and stomach) I finish my Thursday, sign off and look forward to one last evening in London before returning to the normalcy of life in Norfolk.