I have been to a number of English-style tea houses, each time selecting a unique tea from their menus. The quiet, usually ornate atmosphere is calming and somewhat nostalgic and I can’t usually complain about the tea’s quality. However, there is one major downfall when it comes to the English-style tea service. That is the fact the leaves are left in the teapot until the very end of the session.
A session of tea drinking in a traditional English tea house could take a while with all of the distractions readily available (like delicious scones). Letting the leaves sit in the water is not only a huge faux pas in the Chinese-tea drinking community but also creates an insanely bitter cup of tea. Bitter tea often encourages the drinker to add milk, or worse yet; sugar, to make it more tolerable.
Serving tea this way is insulting to the people who work hard to grow and blend it, and to the drinker who selects it from the menu. Tea houses of all kinds should strive to prepare tea in the way that best brings out its pleasant qualities. This means not leaving the leaves in the brewing vessel so that only the first cup is enjoyable.
English-style tea houses (or, at least, the ones here in the US) must adopt new methods if they have any hope of attracting discerning tea drinkers, and they need to do it quickly to avoid furthering their demise in North America.
Every culture has it tea “baggage”. My Japanese mom is only interested in Sencha and Genmaicha. Even though I have a tea shop she could not care too much about other teas.
I think it will be hard for the change your looking for. As for new American Tea shops, I agree with you.
The way tea is brewed and served in most places in the U.S. I’ve been to is really the pits. Maybe that’s why tea has lagged behind coffee in the U.S.
I have to agree with you. At this point, I feel it’s inexcusable that the leaves are left in the pot. Those traditional English tea pots don’t actually have strainers but it’s easy to make appropriate accommodations to prevent this from happening. As black tea is traditionally served with milk/cream and sugar, people just don’t understand that if it were brewed properly using high quality tea, there wouldn’t be a need for anything to be added. Just delicious black tea!
Most commercial coffee brewers and home brewers work well whereas tea has so many variables and varieties, not to mention herbals. Since tea is ‘hot’ culturally, if tea shop owners look at it as a business opp only, they can really be in trouble with the results of their product. It takes a long time to understand the nuances of teas and herbals and how to work with them, and it seems everyone is putting up a website or opening a shop, or putting tea in as a ‘2nd business’ in their existing store/business. Someone just asked me if they should put tea in their graphic arts/printing shop as a way to increase profit; nothing was mentioned of a love or passion for tea or experience with it.
I have to agree. If the leaves are left in the teapot until the very end of the session, it would be an insult.
Here in England it’s rare to find a tea room that serves leaf tea and even rarer to find one where the leaves can be removed from the pot. The best one can hope for is a small pot that’s emptied by the first cup and extra water for the second cup.