Yesterday, Lady Devotea and I were at an Easter Fair, and so were quite a lot of other people. If fact, we were meeting up with six of them.
As we all know, fairs are sometimes a place to get really excellent tea. Perhaps as often as 1% of the time.
As we also know, many coffee vendors are too stupid to care about tea drinkers, despite the fact that they could stock a few good teas and make a significantly higher per-cup profit. Sure, they make an almost identical profit selling bad tea in teab*gs, but of course, people are less inclined to buy it.
So at fairs, there are four options:
- Drink something else
- Drink nothing
- Take your own tea – made up
- Take your own tea – not made up
Some people might suggest that a fifth option is to just drink the bagged tea: REALLY? Do you think that? Is it REALLY an option? No it isn’t. You should be ashamed, take a good hard look at yourself, you’ve let yourself and everyone else down.
So, the first two options are self-explanatory, the third involves a flask and the fourth involves taking some tea and if, necessary, some form of infuser.
Many of my jacket pockets have steel infusers in sandwich bags in them, giving me the option of deploying the strainer and then bagging it up to save tea oozing down the inside of my jacket, which I think we can agree is not desirable. Those little T-sacs are another option. At a business breakfast or conference I often take a really aromatic tea such as Fleurs de Provence, as people notice the aroma, ask questions, and generally feel ashamed of themselves for not going down the same road.
Lately, my preference has been to take some Dreamer’s Balls, as they need nothing else but a cup of hot water and they work well at the sub-boiling temperatures you get from a coffee machine.
So, your only challenge is to get some hot water.
SIDEBAR: In Adelaide, your challenge is to get some hot water that does not taste like a piece of chalk that has been floating in a swimming pool, because we have an alarming confluence of water that tastes appalling and a populace with taste-buds that are inured to the taste.
I have found, over the years, that vendors of hot beverages will usually take one of four options. I’d like to highlight them along with my thoughts
You cannot have any hot water
-It may be that the vendor is short of water. It may be that they think you are running some sort of aqueous scam. OR, they may just be a total bastard. Usually the latter.
You can have hot water, free of charge
-This is the best one. If they are selling things other than beverages, I usually buy something. One good turn deserves another etc.
You can have hot water, and I will charge you $1 to cover the cup and my overheads
-I totally get this. It is entirely fair and reasonable. I know the costs of all of these things and I am happy to pay.
You have to pay full price for a teab*g, and I don’t care if you use it.
-WHAT? Of all the options, this is the one that gets my blood boiling. It’s just gouging the customer. But it happens.
Yesterday, I was lucky enough to find a vendor who was in the ‘free of charge’ category. As it happens, I was with five people who drank coffee, so they did alright out of our group.
The water was filtered as well so that was a double bonus.
It was a good result and we had an excellent day.
Overall, though, I usually end up wishing I’d remembered the flask. Some of the best cups of tea I’ve ever had had been when the right confluence of setting, imbibing companions and location happen when you have a flask in your hand.