He covers sugar policy and milk tactics – and, while I think he’s a little too prescriptive on the former (personally I’m a sucrophile but I’m happy to be libertarian about this), he’s absolutely right that the only way to ensure you add the right amount of milk is to add it, i.e. after the tea.
And, as Norm rightly identifies, the most important issue is this:
ground [coffee] beans are heavier and denser [than tea leaves], and in any case many good coffees require water that is just fractionally off the boil. Whereas tea is a herb (or an herb if you insist) that has been thoroughly dried. In order for it to release its innate qualities, it requires to be infused. And an infusion, by definition, needs the water to be boiling when it hits the tea. Grasp only this, and you hold the root of the matter.
Hitchens bemoans how little this is known in the USA.
Tea, like modesty, irony and imperialism, is something that we Brits understand far better than Americans do (indeed, we have our imperialism to thank for our tea expertise). Perhaps the USA would benefit from the establishment of a Campaign for Real Tea, to promote this simple, vital but apparently not self-evident truth.
It sounds stupid? Well, yes, it does. But I think you’ll find it’d be the least stupid American political movement with ‘tea’ in its name.