How NOT to go to a Tea Shop
October 23, 2011 18 Comments
So, I finally went to a tea shop. More specifically, I went to a tea shop at the Galleria. Even more specifically, I went to a tea shop at the Galleria after helping a friend put up outdoor Halloween decorations. Also, I spent a lot of time petting my friend’s giant enormous horse of a Great Dane while I was over there. But Scooter is so lovable, what can you do? Plus, he folds one leg up in your lap and kind of sits on you like a chair. I almost got a picture of it but… oh wait… yeah… we were on our way to the Galleria, sorry.
For those of you unaware, a Galleria is like a mall on steroids… or maybe Botox. It is filled with people walking around looking purposefully indifferent in clothes you know must be stylish because they are completely and utterly odd. Today, there was a girl with cutoff shorts and knee length black boots. I can only assume the boots were Jimmy Couture or Juicy Choo or whatever.
My friend in need of Halloween decorating assistance happens to live near the Galleria. In the Galleria happens to be a tea shop. Brilliant plan, right? So this is how I find myself at the Galleria in the same t-shirt I was wearing to hang some kind of black outdoor Christmas lights from Satan. Also, my hair is completely windblown and I smell like dog. While I am in the bathroom trying to fix my hair, I happen to notice there is black glitter all over my face. However, we had just passed a store selling “hand-made” make-up. One could only hope the black crap all over my face would pass as stylish.
I’ve been reading tea blogs lately, so I was bound and determined to get to a damn tea shop, even if I had to get through the Galleria smelling like dog to accomplish it. After going past the Banana Republic, Brookstone, Abercrombie & Fitch, Brighton Collectibles (people collect purses now???), the ice skaters, and a store completely devoted to selling sweaters for poodles, we finally arrive at Teavana.
As if getting through the Galleria itself wasn’t bad enough, the entryway to Teavana is a total bombardment of the senses. Hippies with long hair and goatees impose tiny cups of sample tea at us left and right, all the while yelling about antioxidants. Undaunted, we push our way into the store.
Inside, sits a very calm looking gentleman who encourages us try the store’s most rare tea, Monkey Picked Oolong. He asks us, in a dramatic voice, “Do you know about the Oolong?” I am so excited, because yes! I have read about Oolong! I was about to say: “Simply put, green tea is not oxidized and black tea is fully-oxidized. Oolong falls somewhere in the middle between the two. Some Oolong is lightly oxidized, some is allowed to oxidize much more but not fully.”
Okay, fine… I DID just cut and paste that entire speech from Lahikmajoe Drinks Tea.
No matter, it turns out the question was rhetorical anyway. Immediately after asking, Oolong man launches right into the spiel about antioxidants. Apparently, we are all dying from lack of tea. Then he shows us a cast iron teapot, the best way to brew the tea. He does mention in the course of demonstrating the cast iron teapot, how the tea got its name because Buddhists trained monkeys to pick the tea leaves.
I tell him that I will not be purchasing a cast iron teapot, but if they have one of those trained monkeys in the back, I would totally buy one of those immediately. He doesn’t laugh, or offer to bring out a monkey. Now I am uncertain where I stand with the Oolong man. Plus, I don’t even really need a monkey.
Finally, I decide what tea I want to buy. I want to buy caffeinated tea, really caffeinated – with or without antioxidants. I am more worried about how to stay awake right now than how to stay alive.
A guy behind the counter, complete with the requisite goatee and long hair, brings out two rather large bins of tea, wafting the metal lids of each towards us so we can smell the leaves. I desperately want to lean forward slightly, intentionally causing this gentle and soft spoken hippie to hit me in the head with a giant metal tea lid. However, I fight the urge. I am trying to be nice to the tea people. Especially after the monkey comment was such a major fail.
One bucket of tea, White Ayurvedic Chai, has a weird name and 1% the caffeine of coffee. The other bucket of tea, Samurai Chai Mate, is apparently named after Samurais and has 100% the caffeine of coffee. Now THAT is my kind of tea. So I tell long-hair-hippy-lid-waving guy that I want the tea with the caffeine. Long-hair-hippy-lid-waving guy says, “But you HAVE to get the 50/50 mix of the two teas or it WON’T taste like the sample.” So I tell long-hair-hippy-lid-waving guy, “I don’t CARE about the sample. I want the tea with caffeine.” Then he starts describing how the caffeine in tea is metabolized and also something about the antioxidants. I think he is just trying to distract me so he can sell me the odd tea later. So I tell him to just give me six ounces of the Caffeine Samurai Tea, thank you very much.
Then he asks if I want the German rock cane sugar crystals. I tell him I do not, in fact, require German rock cane sugar crystals at this time. Then he says, “But you HAVE to get the German rock cane sugar crystals, or it WON’T taste like the sample.” So I calmly tell long-hair-hippy-lid-waving guy to give me my damn antioxidants and my monkey so I can get out of this freak show.
But I didn’t really say that. Actually, I think I said something about how he was way too attached to those samples. The end result was that long-hair-hippy-lid-waving guy looked just as offended as if I had yelled at him about the monkey. The lesson here is to always go with your first instinct, even if it involves yelling to people about Oolong monkeys.