IN THE early days of parenthood, when we tried hard to do everything by “the book” – there is no book, if only there was a book - we washed nappies, avoided television and fed them sensible things, such as mashed banana and ice-cube-trays of pureed courgette gratin.

(Note to any new parent reading this: you need about a tonne of courgettes and four spare hours to make anything even approaching a proper meal amount. The stuff dissolves in front of your eyes. It’s enough to make you weep.)

Also, no tea. Tea and coffee are not suitable for young children, says every website/pamphlet/midwife you meet on your new parent experiences, and this made sense to us, this was good parenting – even though we drank tea at a very young age.

I remember sitting on my father’s knee as he drank his out of the brown-pattered mug that matched our brown-patterned kitchen wallpaper, examining the soft wrinkles around his knuckles as he lifted it to his mouth. I’d rest my head on his chest, listening to him talk to my brother, hoping for the occasional sip once it was cool enough.

Our parental diligence is the cause of much strife now, though. “It tastes like literally nothing,” says the 11-year-old. But it’s comforting, we suggest. “It’s bland,” dismisses his brother. But it’s lovely when you need to relax, we insist. “You two think tea fixes everything,” they say.

We are not alone, it seems. A survey by the UK Tea and Infusions Association claims 80 per cent of adults think tea provides relief from the day’s problems and stresses. Nearly four in 10 of us say the early morning brew is best, and almost half of us – 45% – claim to have an emotional attachment to our favourite tea which, for most, tends to be regular and black. 

I think I do have an emotional attachment to tea. Tea-drinking, sitting on our garden bench chatting about our days, is one of my favourite things to do. And tea reminds me of my father.

In the days after he died, I remember – in the midst of  the shock and numbness – an endless stream of people turning up at the house: kind neighbours, remote aunts, tearful friends, all of them offering to make us tea.

“Always take the tea,” advised my mother, several half-drunk cups later, when the house was finally empty. “It doesn’t matter if you drink it. It just makes people feel better.”

Tea is reassuring and familiar, comforting and warm, an age-old drink that endures, despite the competition. 

I don’t care what my boys say, I’ll always take the tea.