|Picture Credit: Starbucks|
Recently my wife and I were out doing our weekly grocery shopping. As usual we stopped in Starbucks for tea. OK, it's a coffee shop but it is the only place in town to buy tea - unless Lipton in a bag is your thing.
I ordered an Iced Earl Grey with one Splenda. I have learned from past experience to tell them to steep only 3 minutes. If you don't do this the tea will be steeped for 5 or sometimes 7 minutes. That is too long in a tiny cup. I don't want my tea tasting like their coffee.
What I received was a plastic 'glass' of iced lightly colored sweet water with just a hint of Earl Grey. The barista had filled the cup with ice and poured what little fresh brewed hot tea he could into the cup. The rest of the tea that didn't fit he planned to throw out. I said, "Are you kidding me? Can I have the rest of the tea?" He politely capped the paper cup and handed it over. sigh.
On the previous visit (different barista) I had ordered the same Iced Earl Grey. What I received was a London Fog which is an Earl Grey with vanilla syrup and milk. It was really good so I didn't mind until I realized I just paid for a much more expensive drink. sigh (again)
I have ordered this maybe 6 times. The first couple times I did not realize how long they steeped the tea unless told otherwise. It was pretty strong and bitter. One was warm because the small amount of iced used all melted. So out of 6 times 2 of them were well done and tasty. 3 if you want to include the London Fog.
Yes, I am certain they would have made it right had I said something. So I take a good portion of the blame. However, my point is coffee shops that sell tea really don't get tea. If it comes out of a concentrate container like my wife's favorite Passion Tango, it will be right every time. If they have to steep it, most just haven't been adequately trained - or the training didn't stick because they use it so infrequently.
I do try to educate them when they aren't too busy (rarely) but the turnover is apparently pretty high as I seldom get a repeat barista. I'm beginning to think my only solution is to order a hot Earl Grey and a larger glass of ice so I can complete the task myself.
I do want to finish by saying I am not just singling out Starbucks here. I imagine this will apply to coffee shops selling tea in small towns everywhere. By the way, I am completely addicted to Starbucks Green Tea Frappuccino. I also really liked the London Fog, and when they get it right the Iced Earl Grey is a refreshing treat.
My point is, when Starbucks bought Teavana many of us tea drinkers raised our hopes that this move would do for tea what Starbucks did for coffee. I am not really seeing that happen locally. I hope things are better where you live. I want tea to become so trendy that even our little town can support a shop dedicated just to tea.