Make us a Brew: A Southerner’s cultural guide to hosting a Northerner in your home. PART ONE.

Is a Northerner visiting you?  You are very lucky.

You should, however, be aware that the culture of the Northerner is very distinct and, as with other cultures, there is opportunity for unintentional offence.  In this series of blogs, we look at the values and rituals of the Northerner so you can make them feel at home and welcome on their visit.  In today’s offering we look at the offering of a ‘brew’.

  • It is customary to offer a cup of warm liquid to a Northern guest which is referred to as a, “brew”.   Calling it anything other than this might catch your Northern guest off guard and make them feel a little anxious. “Would you like a cup of tea or coffee?” is slightly too formal (like when offered to you by a receptionist whilst waiting for a job interview) and definitely don’t say, “some light liquid refreshment” as this will make you sound pretentious and a Northerner might come out into hives or worse, go into a form of anaphylaxis.
  • An offer offer of a brew should preferably come within the first 60 seconds of your guest’s arrival, immediately following any customary greetings (which we shall deal with in a later blog).  Please do not leave inquiring as to whether your guest requires a brew too long as your guest might become anxious and assume that you don’t like them or that you don’t want them to stay in your house for any period longer than a few minutes. They might feel unwelcome and neglected.  They probably won’t visit you again.
  • If you forget to offer your guest a brew (in the excitement of hosting Northerners), they might offer up big hints to direct you to ‘put the kettle on’ such as:
    • “y’putting a brew on?”
    • “ooh, I’m gaspin…”
    • “ooh, I’m a little thirsty, could I grab a glass of water”. Of course, no (true) Northerner chooses a glass of water over a nice cup of tea. This is merely a thinly veiled euphemism to which the host should then apologize and say, “ooh, I’m sorry, would you like a brew?”
    • Some Northerner are direct and will simply state, “make us brew”.
  • When a brew is offered, the following options should be available to your Northern guest:
  1. Tea
  2. Coffee

Not having tea in your kitchen stock when a Northerner visits your home is like not presenting a turkey at Christmas.  After a long journey to attend your abode, a Northerner would be very disappointed to find that you have not thought to ensure that you have tea bags and milk. It would start their visit off with you on a low ebb.  It is possible that, upon returning home, they might unfriend you on Facebook.

Coffee should also be a option.   Believe it or not, some Northerners prefer coffee to tea. However, when a coffee is requested, notice there is often a aura of suspicion in the room that, if given the chance, they might move to London.

A guest will likely specify their requirements in relation to their choice of, “brew”.  Here is our guide to the language of brew.  You might want to print this off and stick it to the fridge:

  1. “Tea Two”  This means a tea with two teaspoons of sugar.
  2. “Tea None” This means a tea with no sugar.
  3.  “I’m sweet enough thanks”.  This means they don’t want sugar.
  4.  “Just a splash”.  This means only a small drizzle of milk is required
  5.  “Extra milky”.  Think, warm tea milkshake.

If you get a Northerner’s tea wrong, they might become depressed.   If might be more effective and less stressful to bring in a ‘tea tray’ and let your guests prepare their own.



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