Food Writer's Diary [1]
A brief open letter about tea

A brief open letter about tea

Well this is new: I got an e-mail from a restaurant-goer who had a complaint she wanted to lodge before the entire restaurant industry.
 
“I am wondering,” she wrote, “as a consumer how does one go about letting the entire restaurant industry know of a complaint?”
 
It seemed to me, that writing to an editor at Nation’s Restaurant News was a pretty ingenious way to do it, and something that, to my knowledge, no consumer has ever thought to do before.
 
Here’s her complaint (edited slightly to correct minor typographical errors, because I can’t help myself): 
 
As a tea drinker, I am tired of being given steel pots that are too hot to handle, a cup of hot water with no place to put the bag, no spoons to stir with, and having to ask over and over again for more hot water.
 
Why don't restaurants realize that an insulated carafe of hot water should be delivered to a table for a tea drinker, to refill their cup, just as if they were a coffee drinker?
 
Or brew it en masse just like coffee and serve it like coffee?
 
Sign me,
 
Sick Of Waiting For My Tea
 
Complaints of improper hot tea service at restaurants are pretty common, possibly because few restaurants have the nice tea service that the Austin-based Asian chain Mama Fu’s offers and which is pictured here. Isn’t it nice?
Some purists would complain about the lime wedge, which isn't a typical accompaniment in East Asian tea service — in fact, East Asians drink their hot tea without added dairy, sugar or citrus; they just drink it. Others would likely want milk with their tea, because they don’t know or care that Chinese and Japanese tea drinkers would consider them barbarians for drinking tea that way.
That’s another challenge with tea in the United States: Relatively few Americans drink hot tea compared to those who drink hot coffee or iced tea, and although hot tea consumption is growing at a fair clip these days, standard protocols aren’t really in place for how to serve it. Some restaurants have elaborate tea programs; a few have taken the time to source a variety of different types of tea — black, green, floral, oolong; Chinese, Japanese, Indian etc. — and a very few go to the trouble of brewing different teas at different temperatures and for different lengths of time for optimal flavor.
But hot water, a bag and a cup are still the norm.
I’d love to read about the tea services in your restaurants, and if you have suggestions for Sick of Waiting for My Tea, go ahead and offer them in the comments section below.