Starbucks… now, I like Starbucks actually and often pop in when I fancy a nice coffee. Tea, however, today I think – English breakfast tea. Boiling water, tea or teabag, splash of milk – lovely. So that’s what I ask for. English tea. ‘Milk?’ the nice lady enquires. ‘Of course,’ say I, ‘just a splash please.’ ‘Mug or paper cup?’ politely asked. ‘Paper cup is fine.’ ‘English tea for Steve!’ called out and tea placed on the counter, all very nice, polite, friendly and off I happily go to my table.
To my horror I open the lid to find, I am sure carefully made, tea WITH STEAMY, FROTHY MILK. So my questions are: did I make a mistake in asking for milk? Do people really drink tea with steamed frothy milk in England? Am I missing something, is this a new thing? The barista clearly thinks it’s normal, but the resulting beverage is to my taste undrinkable. This happened to me in Atlanta USA once before in a Starbucks and I thought ‘ah well, America and hot tea is not a normal combination’ – but this is THE very nation of tea drinkers is it not! Or is this just another covert erosion of English culture by our American friends? Does anyone care, you may ask. I am sure some do, so I thought I would raise it – and yes I will continue to use the excellent Starbucks. To be fair, there is always fresh milk provided on the side with the sugar and the other bits and bobs, so maybe the trick is to ask for black tea and do your own thing.
I am often almost unconsciously promoting the virtues of tea in the UK and we have some really good tea members. Indeed, it is part of the appeal, I hope, that the Beverage Standard Association (BSA) is not coffee-centric. There is no finer interlude for me than a hot mug tea with Mcvities digestive biscuits (other brands are available). I have ranted on before about the loss of so many tea shops in favour of the coffee shop, and I have never popped out for a tea, always a coffee. Why is coffee such an event but tea is not? Is it because we can make a really nice one at home, or is it that tea out of home is not as good as the cuppa we make at home?
3rd October saw the excellent pop up trade and networking event held by the BSA and the European Drinking Water Cooler Association at Stansted, and all in all I thought it was a great day. I will certainly look to replicate the format and have early plans to hold one in the Bristol area and one in the north midlands. Watch out for further news, but at a cost of only around £100 for a space for the day and, with it being designed as an ‘in and out, all in a day’ exercise, you have to ask where else can you meet so many people at such low cost in one day to present your products and services?
The BSA held its annual AGM, which was well attended, and while the meeting went smoothly and quickly, there were some excellent suggestions from the floor that we will get an operating committee to explore and report back on.
As I write I am looking forward to the Vendex exhibition in Manchester on 7th November where the BSA will have its own section and eill be running the 2017 Beverage Challenge again. I will report on the winners in a later publication. They have to make four or five drinks against the clock made to a set criteria and in the correct order. I assume there will be tea!