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Tea is essential to Irish hospitality.

The service of tea in an Irish house is not accompanied by any particular formalities, and it does not require any other comestibles -- but it must include the offer of milk and sugar. (Technically, sugar is offered; milk is requisite.)

and for the morningtime break at work.

I know at least one Irish man who would forgo the cup itself if he hadn't milk to put in it — and there isn't an Irish person alive who'd not look at me funny because I drink it black.

The question "sugar?" — if you don't already know or remember — should elicit a response in the form of a number.

At work, teatime is a formal break early in the day. Ten o'clock is normal, no matter that you'd started the day on the clock at nine. Ten, or "half-ten" (10:30,) whether your work-day began at eight or whether it began at nine — you are due a chance for the good old stiff refreshing cup.

At work, teatime involves a good little bit of something to eat as well. In fact, food is implied in "a cup of tea," at work.

-- a "flask," or thermos-bottle, of tea instead.

A friend of mine once told me that the Irish would traditionally consider coffee to be a "Nancy-boy's" drink.