If Tea immediately conjures up images of chintz, lace, pinkies up and ladies who lunch, you will need to update your thinking. Gone are the days when Tea was reserved only for the feminine persuasion. Or for when you got sick. Or enjoyed in a drawing room with dainty sandwiches. It is often said that Image Lags. So true. The world of Tea has changed a while ago and it may need a little time for perception to catch up with reality.
Let's set the stage. Tea is more widely consumed in the world than coffee and is second only to water in popularity as a beverage worldwide. The revered Japanese Tea Ceremonies were conducted by men. Wars were fought over Tea. The British even invented a built-in kettle for armored vehicles. The famous Moustache Cup followed the popularity of tea in the Victorian era. America started out as a British Colony and until the Boston Tea Party, tea was the most consumed beverage even in the American colonies. Cricket is still played all over the world with a well-publicized Tea Break.
Our own research shows that our customers skew an impressive 1/3 Male and 2/3 Female. And that difference is narrowing. At Tearooms, décor often dictates the customer breakdown. When Tea Rooms are decidedly feminine in their décor, fewer men are customers. Where the ambience is more neutral, the customer base is more balanced. Tea is diverse in every characteristic and the entire industry has evolved and changed to accommodate the increase in usage and popularity.
Victorian teapots and fine bone china tea sets are still elegant and beautiful. Afternoon Tea at upper class hotels and salons is a sparkling affair. But no longer is this your only choice. Teapots and Cups and Mugs now come in a myriad of designs to please every taste - functional, sparse, utilitarian, elegant, floral - and in all colors and sizes.
Graceful and elegant settings with tea sandwiches and scones on bone china plates are exquisite. But Tea Rooms across the country have changed their presentations to accommodate a wider interest in Tea and to be more gender-neutral. Even the legendary Plaza Hotel in New York now has a more modern look. The Beverly Hills Hotel serves their Afternoon Tea on classic white china.
At the St. Regis San Francisco, the famous 3-tier presentation is an updated, modern adaption on glass serving trays. Notable also is the fact that Victorian or English-inspired Tea Rooms are just one perspective of Tea. A significant part of the world follows a completely different tradition of Tea that is centered around fine Greens and Oolongs and is decidedly Asian in inspiration. The Teance Tasting Room in Berkeley, California or The Tao of Tea in Portland, Oregon, or the impressive Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse in Colorado have an inclusive, far-reaching audience and without a hint of chintz or lace or Victorian place settings!