Rate My Tea is my new home. Every time I go on Facebook I feel like I’m sitting down to a lovely cuppa with a few hundred of my friends from all over the world. We hold gentle debates about milk in first or last (it’s last, just to be clear.)
(Unless it’s made in a pot, then it’s first.)
(Just to be clear.)
Sometimes we share a chocolate Digestive or a piece of cake. It’s friendly. It’s funny. It’s all that’s good about social media. And so in honour of Rate My Tea, today’s post is about the search for a perfect cup of tea in the land of the Almighty Joe.
I can summarize the process of ordering tea in an American restaurant thusly: Don’t.
Now that we’re a global society and all that, tea is everywhere here. The problem is that the couple of hundred years of veneration and ritual and cultural appropriation that we Brits cling to so faithfully are missing in the U.S. So they think it should be made like coffee. They won’t boil the water, and if you’re particularly unlucky, they’ll use the hot water from the coffee pot so it tastes a little like coffee. I’m not sure if boiling facilities (i.e., kettles) actually exist at most American restaurants. The milk is that UHT half-and-half in tiny pots, which is fine if you want flour-water in your tea. You can ask for your milk of choice to be served on the side but that, I’m afraid, is not your biggest problem. The problem is: The Dreaded Lipton.
This item is an abomination and an affront to tea. No wonder they threw it in the sea. You can leave a Lipton teabag in the cup for ten minutes and you’ll still get tea the colour of my skin after an English summer. I’ve seen people put three bags in one cup just to make it approximately the correct strength. Do not try this: you will be disappointed.
(But Kimberley, I hear you cry, they showed me a whole box full of teabags, and it had the name of an English company on it, and okay so there’s still the boiling water issue, but what about the herbal teas in there? Surely they can’t all be bad? Well, no, they’re not, but peruse the ingredients carefully or you’ll find yourself with a cup of weak black tea that’s had flowers thrown at it.)
You’ll find proper tea in every supermarket and if not, of course, there’s always online. Buy your favourite brand (I’m not getting into that discussion. Blood has been drawn for less) and breathe freely. Take it with you to the diner and ask for some hot water (see above about not bothering to ask for boiled) and milk on the side and hope for the best. Otherwise, order coffee. It’ll taste like it’s supposed to, it makes the waiters happy, and you’re more likely to get what you want when you ask them to keep that bloody pickle away from your sandwich.
Faramir had trouble getting a quali-tea cuppa as well:
Kimberley Ash is a British ex-pat who has lived in and loved New Jersey for twenty years. When not writing romance, she can usually be found cleaning up after her two big white furry dogs and slightly less furry children. Her first novel, Breathe, is now available from Crimson Romance.