This weekend I was thrilled to be a part of the 3rd Annual Coffee and Tea Festival in NYC. Not only was Tavalon the official tea bar of the festival, but I was also asked to be one of the featured speakers.
The topic I chose to discuss should not shock anyone who knows Tavalon (or me) : “The Future of Tea.” Or, more directly, how the US Tea Industry is progressing to get out of the past it has been mired in for the 200+ years since the Boston Tea Party. Most notably was inching away from the “English” associations most Americans have with tea. To deal with this, however, we need to go deep into these associations and elucidate exactly why we need to move forward from “English” tea.
When most people think of the English, certain qualities come to mind: Irrevocably bad teeth, a Monarchy that holds office merely for the sake of tabliod comedy – and a painstaking penchant for the perfect cup of tea. However, through several excursions to the UK, I have discovered that one of these presuppositions has proven false.
One of my great expectations on my initial expedition to the Queen’s Country was to finally enjoy that “superior cup of tea” that my British buddies always boast about. On my second day, I was able to visit one of the better known tea shops (whose anonymity I will honor), in the hopes that this visit would revolutionize my view of good tea.
Since brevity is the soul of wit, I will be brief: I was disappointed. Due to the fact the tea was unreasonably strong (oversteeped), I was coerced to dilute with milk. It also appeared that I wasn’t receiving the freshest tea available, possibly due to my “Yank” accent. In fact, I noted that the quality, in general, was lacking.
Undeterred by what I theorized must’ve been a fluke experience, I pushed forward. From tearooms to cafes to restaurants I searched, seeking that Holy Grail of tea that I was assured. All with the similar results: lackluster to simply bad tea. I was shocked. How could England of all places, the Empire of Tea’s Cultural Center in the West, serve such bad tea?
We’ll find out that and more tomorrow! Stay tuned…