A Strange Encounter

 Apr 13, 2010 |  Written by Anupa Mueller

A customer came in to our Tea Room today and declared she was a Tea Connoisseur and that she visited Tea Rooms all over and rated them with a specific Tea Cup rating. And alas, we wouldn't get any.  She was horrified that our sandwiches were toasted, that our Egg Souchong sandwich was marinated in a 'trendy flavored' tea and that we did not have more of a English/Irish vibe.  She acknowledged that we must be doing well since we had been around for over 10 years and she was definitely impressed with our vast selection of teas but nothing else pleased her. Our servers attempted to point out that our Egg Sandwich was marinated in the well-known and classic Lapsang Souchong (not a flavored tea) and that we tried to assidiously provide a well-thought out tea menu to please as many palates as we could.  We were unable to please our guest.  She pointed out that England consumed more cups of tea than anyone and that we were not the Tea Room she had hoped for.  I get that.  We will never be all things to all people but whatever her personal preferences - and she is surely entitled to her opinion - tea has been enjoyed in many parts of the world for centuries and the English tea tradition is one among many.  As much as I love my cup of Assam each morning (a pukka English cup if there ever was one!) I steep a Darjeeling each afternoon and enjoy an Oolong or Green in the evening.  Every point of view on tea is a valid one as long as it is authentic.  The best Oolongs still come from Formosa and Gyokuro is still Japanese.   If  by some chance, dear customer, you are reading this, please know that we understand your point of view but that there are others that are equally allowable and true.  This is the democratization of tea.  I welcome our customers' comments on this post.

Thanks, Diane. We’re just one point of view and it works. But there are so many others and they all work in the context they’re in. I wouldn’t be successful doing a very British or a very Asian theme but they both have been done very well by others.

Posted by Anupa on Sep 16, 2015 02:28 PM

Are you sure that this person was legitimate and not a coo-coo??

Posted by Diane on Sep 16, 2015 02:28 PM

Very legitimate. I have no problem with specific points of view. But she completely negated the entire tea drinking populations of China, Taiwan, Japan…..it was her way or no other way. Where is it written that every tea room must be in the English style? We thought about this long and hard when we first began. That would have been a very easy and obvious choice. But we’re on the main drag with a fair amount of men coming in for lunch, even a business lunch, and we would put them all off in one fell swoop by being frilly and Victorian. So we went this route. And you can see it was the right decision.

Posted by Anupa on Sep 16, 2015 02:28 PM

I am no expert, but I know what I like, and I also enjoy visiting other tea rooms when I am in other cities and towns. I feel that I represent your average customer; we just know what we like and what feels and tastes good. For me, Silver Tips is the gold standard, to which all other tea rooms are compared! I have to say that no one else has come close!! I have had some experience with the English, and they are terrible snobs when it comes to their tea. Let her go away unhappy; she need not come back. And please keep toasting your bread, marinating your eggs, and doing everything else that you do so well. It is obviously working!

Posted by Diane on Sep 16, 2015 02:28 PM

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