Rant in a Tea Cup

Guest Post by Shane McCarthy

Prepare yourselves, I’m slipping on the Ranty Pants.  That’s right, it’s time for a hardcore rant dealing with something I’m extremely passionate about, something I hold dear and cherish above all else (yes, even more than Chicko Rolls).  What is it that could raise such ire? (pretend you can’t see the huge picture above and that you haven’t read the terrible pun fueled title, I’m building suspense)  What is it that would cause me to slip on the awesome power of the Ranty Pants?  Tea.  That’s right, I’m here to rant about tea and how 99% of cafes and restaurants with their snooty coffee blends and high tech coffee makers can kiss my ass when it comes to ordering it from them.

Imagine, if you will, walking into a trendy cafe (or even one of those posho, high-end ones).  You’re looking good, you’re feeling good and you’re at the start of a batch of freshly washed boxer shorts so everything is right with the world.  You take a seat and order a cup (or pot) of tea as you make casual chit chat with the waitress (all in an attempt to appear devilishly handsome and oh so witty…never works).  She strolls off and, before long, returns with the cup of tea, the one you handed over your hard earned cash for (not entirely sure mine is hard earned).  You smile, she smiles, then you see it…and you scream like a girl.

It’s a tea bag.

Now, I enjoy the cafe experience as much as the next man.  I love kicking back in a cafe and, even better, I love hiding in the back of one to do my writing (the sounds and craziness of a cafe are the perfect thing to thrust me into my own world and keep me there until my work is done).  When I’m there however I’m always faced with the most frustrating of dilemmas, I don’t drink coffee and because I don’t drink coffee I’m forced to drink pig swill, or what the cafe staff inconceivably believe to be tea.

The worst response I’ve had when enquiring as to whether a cafe served tea bags or loose leaf tea was, “We serve tea bags but it’s Twinnings.”  Allow me to enlighten you.  Twinnings is shit.  It’s little bags of dried up shit sold as tea.  Oh yes, their blends certainly taste different but it’s all essentially shit.  Perhaps they spray said shit with different batches of “flavor” or perhaps it’s the accumulated shit of different animal species.  No, that’s not Earl Grey you’re drinking, it’s essence of Sloth.
Good rule of thumb, if it’s a tea that’s sold in the aisles of Coles?  It’s shit and certainly doesn’t belong behind the counters of high-end cafes around the world (I was actually served a cup of Liptons tea once…they’re even worse than Twinnings!).  99% of tea bags are the equivalent of instant coffee or worse.
So tea bag bad, loose leaf good, right?  Not exactly no.  Whilst a tea bag is generally a sign of crappy, pig swill tea it’s not always the case.
Just because many “major” brands spend more money on the staple sealing the bag than the tea inside it, it doesn’t mean all tea bags are evil.  Tea bags are a sign of convenience and in rare cases (very rare cases) actually contain high end tea.  So when we reverse this, loose leaf is actually never a sign of superior tea.
Many cafes proudly state that they sell loose leaf when it’s actually Twinnings loose leaf or worse.  Guess what?  Loose leaf Twinnings is just as putrid as the tea bag counterpart.  Loose leaf tea will always give you a better cup of tea when the tea inside both is of the same quality.  Finding that ‘quality’ can be a real bitch though.

So why am I irritated?  Is this just a case of tea snobbery?  Well first of all I’m a self confessed tea chauvinist and don’t pretend to be otherwise, however there’s a definite point to be made here that goes beyond that.
Why, when I go to a cafe to buy tea, am I forced to spend the same (or more) as someone buying a cup of good coffee when I’m served something of incredibly inferior quality?  Like I mentioned above, most tea bag tea is the equivalent of instant coffee, would you spend $3 – $5 for a cup of instant coffee?  Hell no.  So why are tea drinkers forced to do so?
A cafe spends an inordinate amount of money on high quality coffee machines and high quality coffee then they turn around and buy the cheapest, nastiest brands of tea.  They have their nose in the air about the quality of their coffee, coffee tech and the ability of their baristas and then they have the nerve to serve up tea bags!  That’s like serving a cup of coffee with a sock hanging out of it, and not a nice, clean, good looking sock, it’s a sock you’d steal off the foot of that weird guy in the mall that shouts to himself and swears at pigeons.
Cafes that do this, that charge ‘full price’ for substandard goods should hang their head in shame as they’re pelted repeatedly with mud, rotten fruit and flesh eating squirrels! (special effort would be made to train the squirrels from birth to eat human flesh for just such an occasion)

Ok, so you’re a cafe that actually sells decent loose leaf tea? (see how I’m not even saying ‘good’?  I’m not even setting the bar that high.)  Then at least learn how to make it.
Most teas need to be brewed between 3 – 5 minutes.  If the tea is brought over to me, how long has it been brewing? Did you leave it on the bench?  Did you bring it straight out? If I do know how long it’s been brewing then provide me with a way of removing the tea leaves so the tea doesn’t become bitter when it’s sitting there.

First of all, I’m not because all I’m doing is asking for a standard of quality across the board.  I’d simply like cafes to provide the same quality of tea as they do coffee.  It’s really hardly effort at all.
Secondly I’ve (unbelievably) been to a cafe that not only sold good tea and not only removed the tea leaves for you but they even timed the tea with a tea timer to ensure the best cup possible.  Outstanding!
Tea drinkers of the world…stand up, shout, scream, holler, be heard!  Tell those halfwit cafes where they can stick their little bags of dried poo and demand something better!

In the meantime, for goodness sake, stock your cupboards with something decent (I’m partial to Elmstock Tea myself).

Originally posted here

Good wearing of the Ranty Pants. Can I now have them back washed and pressed? Captain Angry Ranty Pants

No comments: