Since when did tea get so complicated?

I’ve noticed that since coffee became pretentious that tea is following suit.  I’ve only just about mastered the art of asking for my desired coffee when I frequent one of those ubiquitous coffee houses in the city.  As I approach the star circled, mermaid emblem I repeat under my breath “ A grande, skinny, one shot, caramel macchiato,” because the barista doesn’t like it when I say, “Can I have a milky coffee with some of that syrupy stuff in, please.”

Recently I was in the queue of said shop and I noticed a very silly looking cake.  I whipped out my phone, as I am prone to do, so I could take a photo of it and send it to a friend.   Within seconds, a lurking barista came to my side and said:

 “You can’t take pictures of our product.”

“What? Why not?”  I queried, somewhat bemused.

“It’s against our policy.” The jobsworth replied.

I thought about that for a moment.

“Honestly, I think that your high flying competitors already KNOW your product line.  I’m just here for a syrupy, milky coffee, love.”

“ Well, you can’t take pictures.”  

(Wanna bet.....) 

“What happens if I purchase that cake?”  I asked. “Can I then take a photograph of it?” 

“I... don’t know...”  She replied.  That wasn’t in the script.

“ I think you’ll find that once an item is bought, the purchaser has sole ownership rights and is free to take pictures of it or throw it at barista’s or whatever they please.  Check section 7.1 of your award winning policy.” 

Numb nuts.

Anyway, like I said, tea, the drink of my nation, is now starting to get all highfaluting and way too complicated.

“A cup of tea, please.”

“ Do you want a black tea?  A chai?  A chai green latte? A rooibus? A herbal medley including dried petals?

“No.  Just regular tea.”  Sigh.

And whilst I find this is starting to happen in these particular ‘cafe type’ establishments, you would never get this sort of nonsense at a greasy spoon or a mate’s house. 

This is how it would go down at casa amigo:

Moments after entering their front door you would be asked,

“Wanna cuppa?”

“Thought you’d never ask.”


“No thanks, I’m sweet enough / six please, I’m knackered or a builder”  Are possible answers.

You may get asked something like this but not often:

“ How do you take it?”  This a strength question.

“However it comes / wet ‘n’ warm/ strong enough to stand a spoon in / gnats piss”  Are possible answers. 

Generally you get what you’re given and you like it ‘cos you’re British.  End of.

Now, this sort of behaviour isn’t usual across the pond.  Here’s what happens there:

“A cup of tea please.”


I’m certain we invented this language..

“No, tea please.”

“ Hot tea?”

Whaaaa?  Well of course I want bloody hot tea. I have to specify this?

“Yes, hot tea would be spot on.”

“English breakfast?” 

“Oh go on then, two pieces of fried bread, no beans..too early, and two Lincolnshire sausages, bacon, well done please and a poached egg.  Lovely.”

“English breakfast tea?” She meant.

“Errr... Yes ok then, thanks.”

And it arrives sometime later like a meccano set.  There’s a saucer and a cup.  Then there is hot water in a jug,  then there is a tea bag, wrapped up on a saucer of it’s very own. Delightful.  So, I piece it all together,  but wait... There’s no milk.

“Excuse me, I’d like some milk please.”


I cannot express how dis-gust-ing that tea is with cream in. 

“No, just milk please.”

“Half and half?”

“Eh?  Half of what and half of what exactly?”

Along with coffee and tea even milk has become affected.  Let me set things straight.  There are basically 2 types of milk.  There is a third one but since it resembles watery chalk residue, it doesn’t qualify.

There is milk, straight out of the moo cow, white stuff and there is semi - skimmed.  That’s all folks.

Now usually the wrapped up little tea bag fondly referred to as ‘English breakfast’ is Liptons. This is not tea.  This is dirty dishwater.

There are only 3 possible teas that cut the grade A, English must have:

PG Tips
Yorkshire tea.

*Twinings Earl Grey if feeling a little delicate*  This is acceptable.

The destruction of tea has had a detrimental effect and it’s only because you make the best bacon on the planet that I am able to forgive. However, I’m more than happy to start a transatlantic intervention by smuggling proper tea bags over to anyone interested. 

Tax free, of course ;)