Tea drinkers delight! Finally there is someone who is actually taking the tea imbibers - that's what we are or at least I am - seriously! What makes this story so interesting is that the initiator is none other than Starbucks.
After opening up its first non-coffee outlet three months ago, a fresh juice place in Bellevue Square, Washington, Starbucks will open its tea shop under the Tazo brand, in October. As a committed tea drinker, have to admit I'm not familiar with Tazo but then my tastes in tea are very basic. You know - tea bags of orange pekoe, green (lovvve green tea) and lemon tea, plus an occasional Earl Grey now and then... English Breakfast... Somewhat like James Bond with his martini preference, mine is a little touch of milk - never cream for tea - to lighten the liquid, a sprinkle of sugar, followed by lifting the cup to the lips and experiencing the hot liquid slowly making its way down the throat... Simple but delightful pleasures of life.
In as far as the correct way to serve tea, once again Debretts, "the" guide to everything socially correct, has a guide to cover this subject.
- when serving tea for a group, a pot is preferable and loose leaf tea is most flavorful, Debretts advises. A second pot of hot water should be handy to dilute over-brewed tea (been there - done that). The rule is if a waiter places a teapot on a table without pouring, the person nearest the pot should pour. Or...some type of agreement among everyone at the table is also okay in my opinion. Something to the effect: "let Felicia pour - she's good at tea pouring."
- the handle of the tea cup should be held between your thumb and forefinger. The pinky/little finger is not required to be held in the air. That's a relief. Never could figure out why one would want to hold a pinky finger in the air, anyway. Perhaps because it doesn't fit into a teacup handle or for balance - go know. But I digress. Once again.
- biscuits (or cookies) should not be dunked in tea unless it's a very (Debretts word) informal setting and slurpring noises are a definite no-no. There's nothing worse than seeing a biscuit or cookie or any food item that has been dunked in hot liquid, slowly disentegrate and fall into the cup, or even worse, fall on to a piece of clothing.
To return to Starbucks tea openings... Tea drinkers of the world and we are many, will have more than 80 varieties of loose-leaf tea and tea lattes, iced tea in addition to packaged chocolates, infused sugars and honeys will be sold by the ounce and available to customers. This will allow tea imbibers (love that word) to blend their own mixes with the help of a "tea partner", an employee of the store. Cold tea for me is what happens when a cup is left on the table too long but there are people who enjoy theirs iced.
So I'm thinking here and at least in my mind, tea should be consumed in cozy tea shops. There is also no information as to how their new offering will be served. Tea in paper cups as is the case in many cafes/outlets who shall remain nameless, is abhorrent ("such a strong word, Eleanor!") in my eyes. Tea should be served in china drinking vessels, only. Somehow paper seems to difuse the flavor of tea. Am I right, tea drinkers of the world? Wooden stir sticks are acceptable but real teaspoons are better. Again, IMHO.
So what can Starbucks offer in addition to its new tea option?
I'm thinking here (again) - wait for it - tea leaf readers!
Before scoffing at my suggestion, think about it. You have your loose tea and once the liquid is consumed - the tea leaves remain at the bottom. Having employees available who can read tea leaves seems like a natural progression and think of the publicity value!
Meanwhile, here's an interesting opinion piece focusing on whether tea will overtake coffee in popularity.
Then again, you can't tell fortunes with coffee.