If you Google for quotes about tea, one of the top hits is from the philosopher Bernard-Paul Heroux who is attributed with this quote:
There is no trouble so great or grave that cannot be much diminished by a nice cup of tea.
The philosopher’s words of wisdom about tea are quoted in articles by the Telegraph, Reuters, the Guardian and numerous blogs and websites online. An image search also shows that the Tregothnan estate in Cornwall and American retailer Trader Joe’s use the quote on their packets of tea.
The former journalist in me wanted to find out more about the mystery man behind the famous phrase. Searches of the name Bernard-Paul Heroux return no wikipedia listings and his name isn’t listed alongside other famous Basques or famous Basques philosophers. In fact, the only hit I got at all, aside from the quote, was that the Heroux name was a surname from the Languedoc-Rousillion region of France, a good six hour drive from Basques country. However, the Heroux surname is not listed in any online database of Basques surnames and trawling several sites of Basques births, deaths and marriages returned nothing. It’s as if Mr Heroux appeared at some point in the 1900s, made his famous quote about tea and then vanished into thin air.
Apart from the lack of evidence he ever existed, my other major doubt around the authenticity of this phrase is the fact that Basques country, as with other parts of northern Spain, has had has much more of a coffee-drinking culture for centuries. It’s just a fact, the Basques and the Spanish are traditionally coffee drinkers – not tea drinkers.
So is Bernard-Paul Heroux’s quote fact or fiction? Was he a real man or it just a figment of the imagination, dreamed up as part of an elaborate piece of marketing? I don’t want to make a storm in a teacup but until someone can prove to me otherwise, I think it’s probably the latter.