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Nov 15, 2012 01:30 PM

A Nice Cup of Tea

In recent years, tea has become more mainstream/popular in the US. Being a daily tea drinker, this sounds like good news to me. Unfortunately, various frou-frou purveyors of tea are taking advantage of the trend to market flavored-up, artfully packaged, pricey, cutesy "teas" to the unwary public; many of these fancy concoctions don't even contain tea. I don't need fancy tea, just a simple black tea - PG Tips is my go-to at home.

Twice lately I was in establishments who had purchased an impressive selection of fancy teas to offer to their customers. I was asked what kind I would like and I told them, "plain black tea, hot, thank you." In both places this caused great confusion. The very nice people at both places ended up bringing their tea tins to the table/counter to allow me to see them and choose.

To the chagrin of all, neither of them actually had a plain black tea to offer to me. They had only berries, blossoms, herbs, zests, etc.

Now, let's say a restaurant DOES happily have a nice, real tea to offer.....seldom is the water a) hot enough to brew the tea, b) free enough of impurities to not adversely affect the taste, and c) free of, yes, COFFEE flavor! which comes from running water through the coffee machine to (semi) heat it.

A nice cup of tea is one of my favorite small pleasures, but it sure is hard to find one!

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  1. Hey, Sandy -

    I'm a tea drinker, too. Twinings Ceylon hot, Trader Joe's English Breakfast iced. I pretty much drink one or the other, all day long.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Jay F

      Wow, cool! I have been slowly convincing the hubby to drink tea, too....what other beverage (excepting water) can be so delicious, healthy, and calorie-free?

      1. re: sandylc

        What did it for me was a six-week bout with bronchitis/flu several winters ago. Though I've always drunk iced tea, coffee was my morning beverage of choice since age 25. I started drinking hot tea during that illness, and I've loved it ever since. I can drink coffee still, but I dislike the aftertaste.

        1. re: Jay F

          Oh, yeah...that aftertaste....and coffee breath...ugh.

    2. sandy, agreed on all counts.

      After trying scores of ancient teas, trendy teas, English teas, Chinese teas, etc, I, too have found that the plain ol' black tea that I grew up on is what I really like the best. And it is a nightmare to order in a restaurant - lukewarm water, coffee flavor, yep, I know those, too.

      My 22 year old son is also a tea lover, and a bit of a tea snob, but he loves to go to Teavana and other pricey tea shops and try their monkey-balls-gunpowder-hibiscus-aged-smoked whatever you call it. I can take a sip or two, but that's enough for me. I guess I'm getting to an age where I know what I like (finally!).

      1 Reply
      1. re: jmcarthur8

        HA! Thanks for improving a semi-crappy day for me!!! I'd like to go back to one of those restaurants and order monkey-balls, etc. tea......

      2. You are so correct, Sandy!

        While I love to drink coffee, now that the cooler weather is here, I instinctively switch to tea. English or Irish Breakfast is my favorite go-to, and Yorkshire Gold is my favorite import to buy when I have a spare dollar or two. Being forced to accept substandard water and flavor when I am at a restaurant does go against my grain, especially as we are paying for it. Coffee drinkers do not accept it, why should tea drinkers? Is there a polite way to protest this treatment? Just curious... :-)

        Tea Drinkers, unite! :-)

        2 Replies
        1. re: buzzardbreath

          Business name: Just Plain Tea
          Questions asked at the counter: Black or Green and cold or hot
          Most valued equipment: RO water purifier and OF tea kettles and a good timer

        2. Go online to Murchies, unless you can visit Victoria. They have some of the best teas in the world. We visit the store and purchase 1/4 pound packages of their teas. Want a superb black tea?

          5 Replies
            1. re: Puffin3

              And if you do go to Victoria, stop by for a properly made cup of tea and a nice pastry. Do they still have the tea grannies?

              1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                Nope. Now they have smart pretty young women with good teeth and nice figures. 'Got to like that' LOL

                1. re: Puffin3

                  :-) I was actually thinking of the old cabinet with figures of old ladies having tea in it. When you pressed a button, they moved as if they were drinking. I remember it being really old, like pre-electricity old, and coming from the Black Forest, maybe?

                  1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                    Yeah I think it's in a front window maybe. I'll have a look next week.

            2. I recommend Upton Tea They have a great selection. I too have a hard time getting a decent tea when out, and get particularly annoyed that a "large tea" costs more than a "small" they do not give you more tea just more almost hot water in a slightly larger cup

              6 Replies
              1. re: mmalmad

                Yep... paying more for extra hot water (resulting in weaker tea) is awful!

                1. re: mmalmad

                  My wife takes enough finest quality loose tea for two in a little piece of tin foil. We order a pot of boiling hot water with a few slices of 'lemon on the side". When the waiter looks perplexed I just say we only drink hot lemon water. I say it with that 'look' that if he is a good boy and brings us the hot water his tip is certain. I sort of whisper in a conspiratorial voice: "Oh yeah would you make sure the water doesn't taste like coffee?". When he dutifully brings the pot of hot water then leaves my wife empties our finest quality tea leaves into the water and lets them steep. By the time it's ready to pour the leaves have expanded so few leaves get into our cups. Of course the lemon slices are never used. I could write a book. LOL One tip: The best way to get the best service from the front and back of any restaurant is to get your server on your side. The best way is to imply that you are on 'their side'. Most servers are only 'serving' because of the potential tips. Imply if they 'go above and beyond for you' you will reward them. And for Gods sake make sure you do ! Before we moved we used to frequent a neighborhood family run Italian restaurant that had been around for years. We had just moved to the neighborhood. The week before we went to the restaurant for the first time we dropped some things off at the dry cleaner across the street. My wife: "So that little restaurant looks like it's been around for a while. It must have good food". Dry cleaner: "They have great food but you have to be careful not get 'Peto'. He's the owners cousin and if he doesn't like you watch out!". He hates his cousin". We found out what 'Peto' looked like. We made a reservation. We arrived and my wife asked someone, (who fitted 'Peto's' description) "We would like to have 'Peto' as our server please" She whispered: "we are told he is the "best server". Sure enough she was talking to 'Peto'. For a few years 'Peto' insisted on serving our table. He always went the extra mile for us. We always left him an extra tip. Before we moved away we made sure our friends, who we had had such excellent service from him when we all went to diner took up where we left off.

                  1. re: Puffin3

                    Sounds like you enjoy fooling waiters, as if you don't quite think it's necessary to be honest or up-front with them.
                    Sneaking tea (or other ofod or drink) into a restaurant and asking them to give you a "free pot of and lemons hot water" isn't the way i like to treat restaurants or the waiters in them.

                    1. re: EWSflash

                      Yeah, that's really cheating the restaurant -- and a famous "trick" of penny-pinchers. If I wanted to use my own tea, I'd order tea and then just use mine instead of theirs.

                    2. re: Puffin3

                      I had to give up coffee a couple years ago and switched to tea. I'm fussy about my tea and dislike the tea most restaurants offer. I carry my own as well.

                      But I always order a tea(and pay for it) and then use my own instead of the bag they bring.

                      1. re: ziggylu

                        Ditto here - I always order tea, and tell them to put the tea bag on the side. Then I use my own.