Today’s cuppa: Chai spice black tea, French roast coffee (see previous post) and now that it’s evening, decaf British blend tea.

Strike in the SAG? Not yet. The Screen Actors Guild contract expired at 12:01 this morning, but no call yet for a strike. The world still turns.

Every now and then, I like to check in with friends and family back on the East Coast, just to see what’s happening in a reality far removed from the overheated confines of Los Angeles.

This time, it’s my mentor in all things tea-related, who, as she puts it, "works black (tea) ops for the federal government," somewhere in the Northeast (I could tell you where, but then I’d have to kill you … well, not really … not at all … I just like to say that).

At her request, I’ll call her Tia Cupps. (She also says her rap name is Heavy Cream, and her first CD, if she ever releases it, will be called "Whipped.")

Like me, Tia Cupps loves tea, but she also loves TV, and she graciously agreed to sit down to a virtual cuppa and answer a few questions.

Q: What’s your favorite TV-watching position (keep it clean) and why?

A: I was gonna say "missionary," but you said keep it clean. So, semi-reclining, in the big chair with my feet up on the hassock.

Q: What’s your favorite TV show of the summer and why?

A: So far, "The Middleman" wins that contest — but that’s only because I’m waiting for "Burn Notice" to return.

Q: Why the big love for "The Middleman"?

A: I’ve only seen the first two episodes, but I like it because it’s something new; it’s well-written; and it’s funny as hell (can I say hell?). (HCTV: Sure, why the hell not?) It incorporates elements from "Men in Black," "The Avengers," the James Bond movies and "Wild Wild West," with a smidge of "Dudley Do-Right" and a soupcon of "Get Smart," so how bad can it be? The episodes (so far) are pretty much standalones, so you don’t feel the onus of having to make the kind of commitment you have to make to a show like "Lost." If more people committed to their relationships the way they’ve committed to "Lost," the divorce rate would shrink significantly. So say I.

Q: Does anyone out there in America care about the possible SAG strike?

A: Not really. We were more upset about the WGA strike, because it was during the fall and screwed up our favorite shows. Since this potential strike is set for summer, it’s not going to blip on our radar until fall when the new shows are set to return.

Q: What are the top tea-related mistakes you see TV characters make?

A: Gees, I don’t think I’ve actually seen anyone on U.S. TV drink tea. The U.S. TV hot beverage of choice seems to be some form of coffee — or warm beer. You can’t really count Jean-Luc Picard’s "Earl Grey, hot," because replicated tea isn’t really tea. Or is it? (HCTV: "Star Trek" fans — opinions on this one?) BBC tea is another story, and that one so often ends with the good china and something to nibble on.

Q: What is the thing that TV shows most often get wrong about the federal government?

A: That we are the de facto Galactic Empire. I’m not saying we don’t have our fair share of Sith, but there are countless Jedi (and a lot of them wear khaki and camouflage), and they hardly ever get a shout-out.

Q: What do they get right?

A: The whole Jack Bauer/CTU thing…

Thanks, Tia Cupps, for your wit and wisdom. Now go back to preserving our unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of a tasty brew.

Posted by:Kate O'Hare