Tea and a big sneeze is a bad combo. But it happens. You feel it coming on. You try to hold it in. For awhile it seems as if you will succeed and have time to swallow that big mouthful of tea you just swigged from the teacup. Then, just when you are mentally giving a sigh of relief and about to swallow that tea, the sneeze bursts forth…along with that mouthful of tea. Murphy’s law at work here.

(From Yahoo! Images)

(From Yahoo! Images)

Well, the other day, without warning or any opportunity to try to hold it back, the big sneeze totally wasted a mouthful of superb English Breakfast No. 1 (with some milk and sweetener, of course). But just as you shouldn’t cry over spilt milk, crying over sneezed tea is equally futile. Thankfully, it wasn’t the last drop of tea in the house, or I must confess that an air of panic would have gripped me quite strongly at that moment. As it was, the biggest issue was clean-up. The next issue was getting the tea that went up my nose back out again (trying to be delicate here). It takes awhile. And a lot of facial tissues.

Tea is said to have a lot of health benefits (some backed up by real scientific studies and others…well…). Their effect on your nasal membranes can be less than beneficial, however. And things added into the tea, such as flower petals, fruits, lemon juice, sugar, and honey, will have their own effects, good or bad. Tea with milk in it is better, though, and can lessen the effects somewhat. That’s been my experience, at least, but definitely is not scientific. In fact, I searched and searched and cannot find a study done on people sneezing while drinking tea and having some or all of it go up their nose. Maybe some bright doctoral student will take this on as his/her thesis. Or not.

My personal tips:

  • Blow your nose well until you get out as much tea as you can.
  • Use a mild nasal spray, preferably one that is just a saline solution, spray up both sides of the nose per manufacturer’s directions.
  • Take smaller gulps of tea.
  • Avoid black pepper and other sneeze-inducing substances when drinking tea.
  • Keep plenty of extra tea on hand so wasting a little won’t be too disastrous.

These days, we tend not to carry cloth handkerchiefs, but you might consider it. Not those delicate and virtually useless lace ones. Have handy those nice white cotton cloth square ones. You may have to grab it at a moment’s notice to save your tea time guests from an unexpected incident.

Above all, don’t worry about it and enjoy your tea!

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

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