The last thing I need when purchasing tea is a bunch of assholes on my neck trying to upsell expensive kettles and micro infusers. If Earl Grey is the goal – a simple brew for simple minds – any attempts at shoving a Jasmine Oolong down my throat for twice the cost is an exercise in futility, not to mention curious pretention. This is, after all, a tea emporium, not the checked-suit Major World car lot in Queens, $5/hour carnival barker dodging traffic with a megaphone.
Let’s get something straight on the off-chance the Lord God almighty bursts forth from the heavens, commanding me back into this overpriced boutique for a scoop of Masala Chai. Namely, I don’t care what kind of herbal root extract some prick with a bone through his nose thinks maintained his one hundred years of mud hut ecstasy. If the taste soothes me or quells a scratchy throat during a moment of rare melancholy, then your posh blends become as extraneous as Britney’s revived career. These tea leaves could’ve been harvested from the tire behind my neighbor’s garage for all I care, fertilized by raccoons. I’m happy to steep the philistine variety without, excuse the pun, paying through my own beak (bone not included). Just as I don’t yearn for coffee beans gathered from civet cat dung (for up to $600 per pound!), I certainly don’t need a non-oxidized Silver Tip or Darjeeling that require a Swiss Bank tap with each sip. Truth be told, I’m still trying to exhume enough change from under the car mats to spring for a second garbage can. And that’s dangerously close to being ordered on layaway.
How dare you impose $14 storage tins upon your customers, then chide me with a lecture on leaf wilting when I gently request bags. How patronizing to imply that my head is shoved firmly up my ass, rendering me unable to grasp the concept of quality control; assuming I exist in a home where foodstuffs expire in disastrous quantities, minute by minute, because my mental faculties are blissfully off the rails. I expect this treatment from the juiced-up socket heads at an auto parts kingdom – where I don white collar ignorance as a weird stigmata – not by someone ten years my junior who believes I’m an exit away from munching cat kibble like a pension-less spinster in a house full of birds. This tea will age fine in sealed bags. It’s not going to be stockpiled in a bomb shelter for sustenance fifty years forward. You know it. And I know it. Are the commissions truly that enormous in this place? Is the employee parking area full of Maseratis? Should I give up my (sometime) career selling interest rate products in favor of teabagging innocent patrons?
Perhaps you were confusing me for a different type of customer. That slightly balding, uber-liberal loft dweller wearing a “Meat Is Murder” t-shirt and perusing the Sunday Times, barefoot, while drafting his next letter to Amnesty International. In other words, steeping (or smoking) these loose leaves isn’t normally my thing. When it comes to making that fateful choice between tea or coffee, I’m hanging out with Coffee: the drooling red-eyed maniac with the uncomfortable jitter, the one who wakes up with his head stuck in a sewer grate, slams down a bacon egg and cheese, then screws a prostitute in the diner bathroom before sprinting through a brick wall on his way to the office. But you, you can flutter around with Tea: the effeminate top-hatted dandy, the cerebral introvert who frequents performance art shows, laments animal testing, and drives a Prius (for the environment, not the gas mileage). Even on those days when I’m feeling a bit mercurial – abstaining from Barely Legal to swallow The New Republic with a side of Paul Krugman, barefoot even – the urge to extend my pinky heavenward while nibbling shortbread ranks even with tooth extraction.
From here on in, I'll take tea like the lush I am: Long Island Iced. You can keep the damn crumpet.