Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Tea in Coffee Shops

After 2 short stories that were given a tremendous reception (yup, I suffer from delusions of grandeur) and God’s music that threatened to usurp my mind, I am back with…not another story. This one of my pet peeves – coffee shops. More specifically, tea in coffee shops.

How is that worse than the coffee in coffee houses, you may ask? Here is the answer: that is not coffee. Nope, not to me. But let that aside, and get to the topic for today.

When I order for tea, the least I expect is a refreshing beverage that I can drink. Giving me milk, a tea bag and sugar cubes isn’t what I want. I am paying good money to drink the tea which these people give, then why the heck do I have to prepare the damn tea myself! I might as well go to the next door Foodworld, buy all the ingredients and sit at home drinking the crappy tea that I prepare. There is a reason we order tea, and it is partly because we are lazy/incapable of preparing it.

You would have noticed that I haven’t even spoken about taste in my expectations. For that I need to go to some other places, you know the numerous Darshinis, Sahyadris, and Sagars that thrive in Bangalore. It hurts me to pay just five rupees and get wonderful “already prepared” steaming tea at these places. I mean, what is preventing these guys as well from charging me 30 bucks!

And the teabags! I do not think there has been a worse invention than this. I try dipping the tea for 15 minutes to squeeze out every ounce of its essence. Once that is done, I realize that the milk is cold. Ok, the next time I dip real quick, squeeze the bag with the forceps and what do I get? – hot milk with a tinge of the tea flavour. If cows chewed on tea leaves, the milk gushing out would have more tea than my concoction.

A few coffee shops have now come up with the idea of straining the tea leaves. Fine idea, but why do I need to be given the strainer and leaves. It sounds like, “Here. We did our best to give you something resembling tea. But we aren’t sure. So go ahead, be my guest and strain some more.” All this is just an easy way for these coffee shops to escape responsibility. It removes the scope for any more “fly-in-tea” jokes.
Or if the jokes do happen, it isn’t funny.

Customer: “Waiter, there is a mosquito in my tea.”
Waiter: “So, didn’t you make it? Be careful the next time”

Customer: “The tea is too milky.”
Waiter: “Are you a moron? Don’t you know the right proportions for preparing tea? Get lost”

Ok, I can foresee two possible lines of defence from the pro-coffee-shoppers.
1) Do not generalize. There are a lot of us who like it the way it is, and we make really good tea.
Fine. But that still doesn’t give the shop any right to expect me to prepare the tea. Why isn’t there a ready made option for us losers who really can’t make a simple thing as tea! After all, if it is that simple, what is hurting them from making it???

2) It is all about customization. The customer is king. You make your tea the way you like it.
Oh I see. Very smart. So, here is a possible situation 5 years down the line.

Coffee Shop Guy: “Good Evening O Lord of the light!”
Me: “So, I would like a cup of tea.”
CSG: “Would that be plastic or clay?”
Me: “clay??? Since when did that become a monetary exchange unit…”
CSG: “Oh no esteemed sir! I was asking you whether you would prefer a clay cup or a plastic cup.”
Me: “Clay cup” (apprehensively)
CSG: “That’s great. Please step into this room sir. There is your seat for the potter’s wheel. The clay is right next to you. Please feel free to mould the kind of cup that suits you. We also let you make it as ornate as possible. Once you are done, the next room has the kiln where the cup would be finally hardened. While you are waiting for this to happen, please take the private jet at the patio to visit our tea estate and pluck the tea leaves that you prefer…

There sir, please enjoy your tea. Everything that has gone behind making this cup of tea is your effort. We believe in utmost customer satisfaction. Have a nice day.
Oh also, would you like to sit on a coir mat or …”

I flee to the end of the world.
Or the nearest Nair tea shop.

By the way, the 5 year prophecy isn’t totally away from the mark. So, people beware!


At 2:49 AM, Blogger eV said...

>>The customer is king.

I am sure you remember Rambo's funda that the RIGHT customer is king. And people who expect "prepared tea" in coffee-shops are not part of their target segment. So get used to the fact that they don't give a damn about you.

>>I flee to the end of the world. Or the nearest Nair tea shop.


At 2:59 AM, Blogger Sridhar Raman said...

Rambo who? I do not recollect any Sylvester Stallone movie in which he mouthed this line. For that matter, I don't even remember a single Stallone line. ;-)

But the "prepared tea" shops have been around for centuries. Which means the product description of "tea" stands for "prepared tea" only. So, ask the coffee shop hacks to stop calling whatever liquid they sell as "tea", and I shall stop bothering them. (ala Nayagan) :-)

I have a few suggestions like "wash-water", "browny milk", etc.

At 4:35 AM, Blogger DD said...

Reminds me of Viveks dialogue from 12B

"Manam pol dinam Jamai
Nair Chaya Njoiii"

Nair chai vaazhga!

At 5:03 AM, Blogger Sridhar Raman said...

Exactly DD! :)
Vandhutaanga indha useless coffeeshops. Avangalum avanga sarakkillaadha "tea"-yum! :-)

At 6:08 AM, Blogger eV said...

Just coz Nair Tea is better than tea at coffeeshops, should the latter stop providing tea?
It is for the consumer to choose. After all the learnings you derived from Rambo, your pov is so nonsensical on this issue! I'm disappointed! Always.

Well, not always. But still...

At 7:35 AM, Blogger Sudheer Narayan said...

What will countries other than the gulf and india do da? they have no nairs only.. for them only was the "made by customer" tea stalls started..

At 9:11 AM, Blogger eV said...

Talking of Nair Tea, the Nair in Alaipayuthe also rocked. Big time.

At 10:10 AM, Blogger Sridhar Raman said...

Who/What the heck is this Rambo? Stop spamming my comment section with information on some crush of yours. ;-)

>>Just coz Nair Tea is better than tea at coffeeshops, should the latter stop providing tea?
Precisely. Always. :)

>>It is for the consumer to choose
to either like the "tea" or to hate it and flame it in a blog. I, the customer, choose the latter.

>>What will countries other than the gulf and india do da?
"Small world" like how Kamal says in Sati Leelavathi. So, you wll always find one Nair in one country.
Or, even simpler, in today's context - outsource. :D

At 5:17 AM, Blogger Vivek Krishna said...

just as an aside..a better way to make tea is to dip the tea in hot water then add sugar,mix it ,throw the tea bag out and then add hot milk.

At 10:18 PM, Blogger J said...

I can't agree with u more on this.
I simply fail to understand wots so WOW abt a fake place like Infintea?
It's expensive by the coffee shops standards
Serves bad tasting tea
Makes a big hue n cry abt the tea-making process
And there are tempting high-calorie sinful chocolates too!!!

At 6:44 AM, Blogger Mandar said...

Bangalore Bloggers' Meet. Details here.


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