In the 19 century the British ruling classes fretted over the prospect of Irish working class women making cups of tea for themselves.

It seems laughable now but housewives were once frowned upon for making too much of it, a Durham University academic discovered whilst researching the tea drinking habits of the Irish poor over a hundred years ago.

According to the Irish News, the academic was startled to discover how much the ruling classes of the time actually fretted over women making a cuppa.

Hard hitting pamphlets were distributed to Irish households warning the public that tea drinking was stifling national economic growth because housewives were wasting their time taking a tea break.

Tea drinking women were clearly ignoring the needs of their husbands, families and homes and a stop would have to be put to it, the handouts read.

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Published in England, which had a 19 century mania for scolding Ireland for its apparent indolence, the pamphlets warned of the damage leisure time - even drinking a cup of tea - did to Ireland's economy.

Lecturer Helen O'Connell discovered the anti-tea drinking campaign as she researched works published by 19 century reformers who enjoyed giving unasked for advice on morality and good, clean living.

'Peasant women were condemned for putting their feet up with a cup of tea when they should be getting a hearty evening meal ready for their hard-working husbands,' O'Connell told the Irish News.

'The reformers who were middle to upper-class, were trying to get the peasant women to change their ways - albeit in a somewhat patronising way - for the greater good of the country.

'The reformers made it clear they saw tea drinking as reckless and uncontrollable.'

They also clearly saw tea drinking as a luxury that wasn't for the poorer classes. Especially not the Irish.

'There were supposedly drug-like qualities in tea, an exotic substance from China, which was understood to become addictive over time,' O'Connell said.

Tea is the coffee of Ireland. If you enter someone’s house it’s very offensive to turn down a cup of good Irish tea.PAUL GROVER