An odd side-effect of moving over here is that I appear to have taken the first few steps on the staircase of tea snobbery. When you consider that getting hold of an ordinary electric kettle in this country is a major undertaking, tea-snobbery sounds unlikely. But there’s one other difference that makes the everyday grind of American life the most fertile of soils for tea-poncery: they don’t tend to put milk in drinks over here. This has some surprising side effects.
Firstly, the only “normal” hot drink in the diners and eateries is coffee, and when you order a coffee the only option is “cream ?” If you order tea, you don’t want to put cream in it (obviously) so you have to specifically request milk, and as the water is usually way below boiling, and the tea is usually piss-weak (despite erroneously being called “orange pekoe”) it’s easier to get your tea fix by drinking it black. Likewise, American offices don’t have milk in the fridge; they tend to have “creamer” of the “Coffee-mate” style. This results in frustration for those of us that like the flavour of tea. In the UK you can drink filthy shit like Tetley because the milk takes the edge off. Ever tried black Tetley in a white mug ? Ew. And as for cream…don’t be silly.
So, over here you have a choice between black Tetley and black Liptons. One bitter as Tim Henman, the other as weak as Charles Hawtrey on opium in a car crusher.
Anyone who loves that teay flavour (is teay a word ?) is forced to go for some of the hardcore varieties. Luckily my sister visited recently and brought us some Twinings’ Assam, which has proved invaluable in providing the right level of mouth satisfaction. But I was craving more…in particular…Lapsang Souchong. Sadly, that stuff is like rocking-horse droppings over here.
However, last week a couple of work colleagues and I went to the mall at King of Prussia where we knew that traditional Cajun food (cooked and served by Koreans) was available cheaply. On the way back to the car I noticed Teavana, which [“dirty”] Tom had recommended in the past, and so I apologetically dragged my colleagues in with me. About ten minutes later I’d spent a disgusting amount of money on two large containers of the most delicious tea I’ve ever sipped. Despite my friends [one from Venezuela, one from Puerto Rico] laughter at my enthusiasm, I felt contented. The other colleague there was from India and she seemed more understanding about my excitement. Maybe not.
Anyway – this tea gave me a constant level of contended excitement all weekend and I fear the day that it runs out.