If you love quality tea like me to the point that you cannot live without it even for a day, or at least cannot feel normal to get on your work and get through the day, then you are likely to understand my pain of unable to get a proper cup of tea.
The pain was particularly vivid every time I was traveling out of home for days without access to the Oolong teas I have grown so accustomed to. The hotels and restaurants I went rarely offered any tea that I would consider of quality. Most of the teas listed on a restaurant menu or a room service menu are scrapped tea leaves, loaded with artificial flavorings and pungent scents, and packed into a small tea bag, or are iced and bottled tea whose freshness is questionable. You probably would not be too critical about my ill opinion of mass-market tea-bagged tea if you have tried authentic and top quality tea. For that I mean tea that is characterized as full-leaf, loose-leaf, not blended, and surely no added flavorings or scents (natural or artificial alike) because the leaves and stems themselves already contain natural rich aroma and scents waiting to be released during infusion.
But I also came to realize serving no boiling water was another critical reason that has dissuaded me from ordering tea while dining out after I watched Maggie Smith lash out on a waiter for his lack of understanding of how to prepare tea properly in her 2015 film The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Following are the lines from her role as Ms. Muriel Donnelly that aptly describe a key problem that I can deeply related to:
“Tea is a herb that's been dried out so to bring it back to life, you have to infuse it in boiling water. That is boiling water and everywhere I've been in this company, they slap down a cup of tepid nonsense, you know, with the tea bag lying beside it, which means I've got to go through the ridiculous business of dunking it in the lukewarm piss waiting for the slightest change of color to occur. And at my age, I haven't got the time.”
Yes, boiling water, so easy to come by at home, but so difficult when dining out.
And years gone by I’ve learned to numb my disappointment by downing several cups of coffee instead to kick off my day. After all, it’s easier to get a cup of quality coffee these days in most hotels, restaurants and diners in the U.S. than a cup of quality tea.
So, as a tea lover, what are the hurdles you have encountered and what’s your preference for tea in terms of oxidation and flavor? I have designed a causal tea survey, you can access it here or complete it right below. If you're interested to see others' responses, please help share this survey with anyone who loves tea.