Benedict Cumberbatch had a Very British Tantrum about chamomile ‘tea’

Benedict Cumberbatch at arrivals for DR...

Here are some photos of Benedict Cumberbatch and his gross mustache at last weekend’s premiere of The Grinch. Bendy voices The Grinch, because I guess we needed a new animated version or something. Like, I never thought that all-lady remakes of classic films “destroyed childhoods,” but I do think making new animated versions of already-classic animated films does legitimately destroy childhoods. The OG Grinch is amazing. Anyway, it happened and I’m sure a lot of kids want to see the new Grinch. Benedict is front and center for the promotion, which is unfortunate because he’s also working a new movie, thus this gross little ‘stache. Anyway, the Cumberstache is not the reason for this post. The reason for this post is Benedict’s Very British Tantrum™ about tea.

Never talk to Benedict Cumberbatch about chamomile tea. He’s really not a fan, and he wants you to know it. The Sherlock star found an unlikely verbal punchbag on Absolute Radio when he launched into a rant about the calming beverage while promoting his new film, The Grinch.

Cumberbatch, 42, told Dave Berry: “Shall I just really vent now? I’m sick of chamomile tea being called tea. It’s not tea! Tea is a green leaf that comes mainly from the foothills of India and South America – places that have beautiful mountains. It needs to be a sub-tropical, alpine climate. It’s a very specific process. Chamomile is not grown in these environments. So, that’s not a tea.” The star then imitated American’s asking whether he wanted sweetener or milk in his chamomile.

[From The Evening Standard]

British media outlets were all in a tizzy about The Great Chamomile Debate of 2018, or TeaGate ‘18. I guess… props to Benedict for educating all of us American savages about the technicalities of the “tea” label? I think it’s easily been 20 years since I had a cup of chamomile, and yes, I’ve always considered it tea, my bad, I guess. I’m not much of a hot-tea drinker at this point, so I don’t have any strong feelings about this particular debate, or HOW tea should be seeped, or poured, or what needs to go in your tea and what should go in your cup first. Just my opinion: only British people care about those debates. Let them argue amongst themselves.

But what are we supposed to call Chamomile “tea” now? Chamomile steeped beverage? Chamomile-Flavored Hot Water?

Benedict Cumberbatch

Benedict Cumberbatch

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red and Backgrid.

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62 Responses to “Benedict Cumberbatch had a Very British Tantrum about chamomile ‘tea’”

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  1. Tina says:

    Bendy is just pretentious. Technically chamomile tea is an infusion, I suppose, but it really doesn’t matter.

    • MCV says:

      I mean, he literally ranted about how he was never going to be casted for a “poor” or “middle class” role because of his posh upbringing but actors from a “humble” home could play a rich character.

      • jan90067 says:

        He’s a twat.

        In these pics he looks like a stereotypical “stick-up-his-a$$-VEDDY-PROPAH-British-gent”. Ugh… HARD pass on him AND his attitude.

    • Digital Unicorn says:

      Yes, he always was a pretentious snob but hid it better before he hit the big time. Since hitting the big time he’s stopped bothering to hide it.

    • AnnaKist says:

      Nah, I don’t think it matters, either. After all, the garden nutrient-rich liquid that comes from a worm farm is called “worm tea”…

      I would love a chamomile “lawn”, but loathe chamomile tea. It just makes me gag.

      I do love a good strong cup of tea, though, along the lines of Leather Brown, Pantone PQ-18-1142TCX. Two sugars, thanks.

      As for that poxy moustache, why doesn’t he utilise the services of the film crew’s exceedingly-talented face-makeruppers? I mean, it’s no Tom Selleck mo, is it…?

    • Soemone says:

      Just call it chamomile infusion or chamomiel. Tea is a plant just like chamomile. He’s right of course

    • Desdemina says:

      As someone (non-British) who loves to get pedantic about tea, both tea and tisanes are technically infusions. Tea is an infusion of camellia sinensis leaf, and tisanse are infusions of various other plants.

  2. Chaine says:

    Chamomile is technically a tisane, along with I guess everything else we call “herbal teas.”

    • sa says:

      Right, I’ve always been taught that herbal teas aren’t actually tea, but I’m not going to start calling it something else.

    • LadyMTL says:

      I was coming here to say exactly this, it’s a tisane, just like mint tea or any other kind of herbal tea. In French you distinguish between the two…if you want a tea it’s “thé” but if you want an herbal tea it’s a “tisane.”
      So Bendy isn’t wrong, but he’s being kind of pedantic.

  3. TheHeat says:

    I think I’d have to see/hear the actual interview before passing judgement.
    Sometimes I “vent” about really nonsensical things…and my “rage” is quite dry & tongue-in-cheek, which wouldn’t translate well into written text.

  4. BaBaDook says:

    We Irish are also pretty big into debating how tea should be made etc – for me, a cuppa has always been an Irish thing. But, Bendy is just having a tantrum – in my experience of my neighbours, most British people call Chamomile tea too.

  5. ItsJustBlanche says:

    I think he’s just being funny and even with the mustache, and even with the fact that he’s really showing his age for 42, he is still really cute.

  6. Cee says:

    There is tea, and there is infusions. Never confuse those, ever, unless you’re willing to face Bendy’s wrath.
    On a more serious note, he IS right, but does anybody care? I love tea and infusions. I couldn’t care less what other people call tea. However, I do think microwaving a cup of water is taking things too far.

    • Tina says:

      THIS. Tea needs to be made with just boiled water, not microwaved or made with whatever that hot water thing they have in US restaurants is.

  7. OriginalLala says:

    it’s a tisane. but also….not a bid deal? lol

  8. SJhere says:

    These pics verify my long held belief that Bendy is only smoking hot as Sherlock.
    Yup. Yup. Yup. I feel very strongly about this. Yup.

    His voice, on the other hand..very good.

    I’ve seen the trailers for the Grinch he’s promoting, can not avoid this. It is everywhere, yesterday at the food store boxes of Chex cereal were plastered with Grinch faces because here in the Midwest USA folks will be up to their armpits in bowls full of Chex mix from now until Jan. 2, 2019. I think it may actually be a law here. 🙂

    Btw, Bendy is talented as an actor. Does seem to have a bit of humor about himself, sometimes, and really, as we all struggle to get to the end of the week….no harm no foul. That ‘stash is getting very, very hard NO!

  9. Coffee tea or botox?

  10. Snazzy says:

    India and South America? What about Chinese and Japanese teas Bendy? I take my teas so seriously – and love my green teas!

    • Lightpurple says:

      All of my adult neighbors on my tiny street are from different parts of China. My cupboards are full of canisters and boxes of delicious black, green, and white teas that they bring me from their trips home.

      • Snazzy says:

        Ohhhh now I’m jealous. I have a friend who brings me back teas whenever she goes to China to visit her family – her dad and I have the same taste in tea so she always brings me back something wonderful. But your tea cupboards are my dream 🙂

    • maddie says:

      came here to say exactly that – i guess China and Japan doesn’t count.

  11. Lightpurple says:

    As much as I dislike chamomile, I am even more annoyed by the use of “apostrophe s” to form a plural. “Americans,” not “American’s.”

    • Mumzy says:

      +1 for this vexation, plus the misuse of less and fewer!

      (I suspect you’d would enjoy “The Book of ‘Unnecessary’ Quotation Marks: A Celebration of Creative Punctuation.” My family, having heard me groan about the public murder of basic grammar for decades, gave it to me and even my kids love it.)

      • Lightpurple says:

        Thank you. I will check that out. I am waging my own personal war on Twitter against the misuse and abuse of the ellipsis. No, people, you do not look more sophisticated when you sprinkle random dots throughout your writing. I once got a case overturned in appeals court by pointing out that opposing counsel’s creative use of an ellipsis had misled the lower court judge.

      • Jerusha says:

        The misuse of pronouns following a preposition drives me nuts. “for he and I” for example.

      • Sarah says:

        The misuse of less and fewer is my pet peeve too!

    • jan90067 says:

      Misuse of apostrophes is a pet peeve of mine, as is misuse of commas, confusing semi-colons and colons. One of the worst, for me, is when someone misuses “its” and “it’s”, and “I” and “me”. When I was a kid in school we were taught to parse sentences, rules of grammar, contractions, conjunctions, etc. Makes me NUTS that it’s not considered important anymore.

    • Anners says:

      I have found my people!

  12. Wellsie says:

    Chamomile tea is delicious, calming perfection in a cup. I refuse to say ‘Chamomile infusion’, as I am a self-respecting person. GAME ON, BENDY!!!!

  13. Miss Jupitero says:

    It’s a tisane. I agree about the tea label. I like tea in my tea. Someone needs to tell Bendy about green tea though.

    Britishness must be seeping into me somehow. Maybe this is because I just bought a fancy tea kettle with six settings and I love it so much I want to take it to bed with me.

    Also, I think he is trying to be funny.

  14. Rosemary says:

    I’ve heard this rant from English friends before. Chamomile is AN HERBAL INFUSION, they say. And I agree. If you’re going to drink tea, drink tea.

  15. ValiantlyVarnished says:

    He’s so posh British it’s actually funny because he lives up to the stereotype. But this reminds me of the whole “Chai tea” thing. Chai literally means “tea”. So there is no reason to call it “Chai tea”. You’re basically saying “Tea tea”. And that folks is MY tea rant for the day.

    • Aquarius says:

      Yup! This drives me bananas, too. A friend who is Indian once thanked me for just calling it “chai.” And, in the U.S., since most chai is prepared with milk (unless you prepare it yourself), asking for a “chai latte” is redundant, too. (Or, at least, places calling it a “chai latte” is redundant.)

      • Meganbot2000 says:

        My local coffee shop started doing a Chai Tea Latte and even though I love it, it kills me a little bit to order it.

      • Aquarius says:

        At Starbucks, I always order a “chai” with no water–some places use water, some don’t–and if they ask, specify “hot,” but otherwise skip the “tea latte” bit.

  16. Luna Lovegood says:

    Ok. If he can be bitchy about tea I’m gonna be bitchy about tea. I was in UK for 5 months. I am a Southern California native. I don’t like or drink any kind of tea. While I was in UK I was asked every single day, twice a day, if I’d like to have tea. NOPE. It was nice and polite that they asked I suppose. But I will never change my mind. They were so koo koo about tea. It’s EVERYTHING. They were so excited when the kettle was on, they were like little kids at Disneyland. I told the same people every day. No thanks. Coffee is yummy to me but makes me a bit jumpy. I just really want to say, F$CK TEA. JUST SHOVE IT. IT TASTES LIKE CRAP. And , yes. I know how to properly brew tea.

    • Ashley says:

      Lol. I was typing the same thing before I read your post. How anyone can prefer the watery flavor of tea over a perfectly brewed cup of coffee is beyond me. And I say this as someone who has tried to make tea work, but at the end of the day, it just doesn’t. Come at me, British people.

    • Tina says:

      To my mind, it is one of our more endearing characteristics that we get absurdly excited over a very common hot beverage costing less than 5p per cup. In our defence, have you experienced our (lack of) central heating? Tea ensures that this country continues to function.

    • SnowPenguin says:

      May I say I completely understand your position on tea, no doubt you are not alone.

      I moved to the UK a lifetime ago and discovered , tea is not a simply drink; it represents so much more. It can be a simple gesture that brings people from all walks of life together. For example: “Builders tea” – by definition, big burly men who suddenly turn to you and say – ‘I would love a cup of tea, drop of milk please’… that can only make you smile 😊

      What I have seen, unlike coffee, when tragedy hits in this country – all the horrific bombings and attacks London has seen, after the wonderful first responders, there is always someone following with an offer to anyone, offeringl a cup of tea. It is a way to reach out, and care for a stranger. (Clearly coffee would also do the trick, but there is something about tea …. 😌)

      For me. tea has come to represent a gesture of caring, of warmth, of community. ‘No matter what your worry, everything seems possible/sorted/brighter after a cup of tea’.

      Coffee is wonderful and delicious but tea is a warm hug when you really need one. 🙂

  17. Ashley says:

    I like how he conveniently leaves China out of his tea-growing destination list. Remember China? The country you guys got hooked on opioids so you could have your afternoon cuppa? Lol

    • Beatrize says:


      If he’s going to be a snob of the first order, the least he can do is, be an informed one.

  18. Julia says:

    Dude, I’m all for being finicky about tea, but… is he joking? Because ignoring the existence of Chinese and Japanese teas makes him sound extremely and unpleasantly Anglo-centric.

    • Soemone says:

      Oh geez. He’s British if anything he’s India centric. Since that’s where the brits got and get their teas. They didn’t rule China or Japan, despite the opium wars.

      • Julia says:

        The British introduced tea to India in an effort to offset the Chinese monopoly. Cumberbatch getting snotty about the precise nature of tea, but ignoring its origins and ongoing cultural importance in the Asian world, would be like me, a woman from the PNW, getting uppity about “real” coffee.
        Sure, we have a LOT of it here, and it’s a famous part of our culture, but it’s not like we invented it. So, yeah: definitely not a crime, but something that makes him sound like a bit of a tool in an interview.

  19. Chef Grace says:

    Keep the infusion blends. Give me Darjeeling with 2 sugars and real cream. 🍵

  20. Alarmjaguar says:

    Team Chamomile Tea! I also drink a delicious Orange Ginger Mint TEA that he would probably hate. I’m actually thrilled that the weather is getting cooler b/c it is herbal tea time. I drink oodles of it.

  21. JanetDR says:

    I think he’s joking but I sort of get it. It’s not going to prevent me from making “tea” out of all sorts of plants (chamomile, mint, dandelion, etc.) but I promise not to call my coffee bean infusion “tea” if that helps – lol!
    PS Love him, love his voice forever, but no to another Grinch movie

  22. Elise says:

    Personally, I think that there are (at least) two definitions here: one is tea-as-a-plant, and the other is tea-as-an-herbal-drink. AFAIC they’re both correct, and I’ll take CF Diet Pepsi anyway.

    (I wonder what His Cumberbatchness would make of Southern sweet iced tea… with a peach shot.)

  23. Belluga says:

    The moustache… He lost a bet, right?

  24. Kim says:

    As a brit I can confirm it’s sold and marketed here as chamomile tea. So why he’s on his high horse about the Americans calling it tea I have no idea. And the only acceptable way to make a good cup of tea is to have it strong, a dash of milk and 2 sugars.

  25. Izzy says:

    I was never a fan of chamomile… teafusion? whatever. Until I tried a brand called Teatulia. It’s the ONLY chamomile I’ve ever liked, but I am hooked.

  26. ChillyWilly says:

    Man, I am super impressed with y’alls tea knowledge! Now, I’m gonna go brew me some Lipton! Lol

  27. Wood Dragon says:

    I’m partial to Bewley’s Afternoon Tea. Got hooked on a visit to their teahouse in Dublin back in the 90’s.

  28. Bear says:

    Find the vid it’s a silly, joke rant

  29. Suzanne says:

    Hercule Poirot is always drinking tisanes. His moustache is stellar, though.