Monthly Archives: August 2008

Tea snobbery

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.

Hmmm tea….


When you move to a new country, or even a new town, it takes time to make friends. Firstly there’s the problem of meeting people – that’s not easy. Secondly you have the problem that most of the people you do meet are complete arseholes. Obviously the latter judgment is very subjective. So, when you do meet people you like it’s a very heartwarming feeling, almost like a crush.
This week has been fun:

  • Going to see the new Batman film with my neighbour, Tim, and a another friend, Carl. Before I knew anything about this film, it seemed appealing, and once it was released, everyone I spoke to raved about it. Annoyingly I think it does live up to the hype – but it’s not a kids film. In fact, it’s pretty disturbing. Regardless, it’s an utterly enjoyable way to spend two and a half hours.
  • Kevin’s band had a gig on South Street; that was an entertaining evening. He’d managed to persuade a load of people from his workplace (my ex-workplace) to come along, and once we’d all payed to get in, and realised they didn’t have an alcohol licence, all had a very pleasant reuinion in the bar over the road. I brought along a friend from my new workplace, “Dirty” Tom, and we all got merry before crossing back over the road to watch the band.
    On stage, Kevin is incredible. He goes from shy and retiring, to extrovert rock god, with plenty of self-deprecation and humour. We, and the rest of the crowd, loved it. Once they finished their set we reconvened in the bar over the road. An excellent night – and loaded with anecdotes that I don’t want to inflict on you.
  • Wednesday night hosted a leaving do [something they don’t say over here] for my ex-boss. I like him. Even though he’s psychotically workaholic, he is also a genius, highly witty, and very good company. The other compelling reasons to attend were that it was being held in the Manayunk brewery, it was going to be filled with the people I liked at the old place and it would almost certainly be a piss-up.
    It did not disappoint. I can’t really describe how good it was and the only video evidence for the night is sadly insufficient. Here it is anyway.

Other stuff went on this week but I don’t want to inflict it on you dear reader.