Ok, so I’ve had two bad cups of tea in my years of drinking the elixir of life. But the fall down the rabbit hole that turned me into a self-proclaimed tea-snob started with the first bad cup.
I had been drinking tea daily for a couple of years, but hadn’t really branched out of the grocery store isle yet. A true novice. but for some reason my co-workers thought I new a LOT more than I really did. At that time, I thought all teas were basically the same. Didn’t matter where it came from, a bag of Earl Grey was a bag of Earl Grey.
And then I got on a cruise ship.
Now, if you haven’t been a on cruise yet, let me tell you: everything edible on ship is incredible. I think it’s an official rule that all food must be amazing. On this fateful day, I decide, post yoga, to treat myself to some of the delectable pastries aboard and a nice cup of Earl Grey.
And it unfolds like this:
I take my happy, zen’d self down to the Lido deck (where the buffets are), grab my little apple tarts, a few pieces of fresh fruit, and who knows what else finds it’s way onto my plate, and I locate the tea station. I grab a cup, put in the Earl Grey tea bag (not a standard brand, might have been their own, but it doesn’t matter because all Earl Grey is the same, right?!?), and pour in the hot water from the industrial sized hot water dispenser on the counter.
With a pep in my step, I make my way to a shady, less windy part of the upper deck and perch myself on a lounge chair to enjoy views of the beautiful southern Caribbean sea whilst I enjoy my tea and snack.
Aahhhhh…. Peace… Serenity…
I take a bit of one of my treats and it’s just incredible; nearly melting in my mouth, perfect texture, subtly sweet. Divine. By this time my tea has steeped, so I take out the little bag of dust and breathe in the scent of liquid gold. It smells just as an Earl Grey should. A wee bit bitter with a citrus kick.
All is right in my little world.
Expecting the tea to be as glorious as everything else on ship, I take my first sip.
Gag! My face contorts into a grotesque misshapen state. This is the worst thing I’ve ever put in my mouth! I kid you not, it all I could do to not spit it out over the side of the ship!
I look into my cup and ponder what went wrong. Maybe it was that my treat was too sweet? I take a sip of water to cleanse my palate and try again.
Oh, wretched soul am I! No this is not happening.
But yes. It was. I could not finish the cup.
I now realize that when an inferior blend meets an inadequate water base (not filtered) with the incorrect steeping temperature, the result is liquid gross in a cup.
It was at this moment, on a clear winter’s mid-morning, somewhere in the southern Caribbean that I learned that all teas are not the same. There are good teas and good tea blends and there are some really nasty ones; there are proper ways to brew your cuppa and there are some things you’ll want to be sure to avoid (for details on these, please check out Tea 101).
It was at this moment that I realized I had become a tea-snob.
May your cup ever be filled with good teas.
And remember: Friends don’t let friends drink bad tea.