Saturday, June 28, 2008

Don't panic

I feel like Arthur Dent.

In addition to the Don Watson book I'm reading, I've also been reading The salmon of doubt, a collection of the miscellaneous writings of Douglas Adams. I'm really feeling for his frustrations around the U.S. and tea.

I'm a tea drinker. I like my tea black, with no sugar, the better to taste the flavours of the leaf. In fact I would go so far as to consider myself a bit of a tea snob. My ideal weekend starts with a very large pot of my own blend of loose leaf teas, taken over an hour with the weekend paper.

Today I was thwarted, constantly, in my attempts to get a decent cup of tea.

First, the complimentary continental breakfast at my hotel. Now, I'm not staying at a fancy hotel, so I wasn't expecting much, but it really was woeful, and the tea was hideous. It didn't count, really. So, no tea (to speak of).

Then Fiona and I headed over to the massive (again with the big) Hilton hotel, where our fellow presenter Andrew is staying. On the way we passed a 7-11. I decided I might be able to buy some tea bags, but the only option they had was Lipton. Again, doesn't count. No tea.

We get to the Hilton, and my spirit soars - they have a Starbucks, and it's a well kept secret that Starbucks actually has very good tea - they stock a brand called Tazo which you used to be able to buy at the DJs food hall, but not any more. They do a gorgeous range of interesting flavours, and have an earl grey so strong that the bag itself is stained yellow with bergamot. So "yay! Tazo tea!" thinks I, and joins the long queue.

Once I reach the head of the queue and ask for a cup of tea, they tell me they're out of tea.

Now, the weird thing is that they had teabags for sale on the shelf. They have always served only bag tea, so I'm not quite sure how they could be out of tea and still have tea, but nonetheless, I hadn't yet had my morning cup of tea and so was unable to argue. I did, however, have the sense to purchase said box of tea, thinking that any self respecting hotel has a kettle in the room, I'll make my own.

So up to the 7th floor of the Hilton we go, to find that Andrew's room is well stocked with tea, filter coffee, and a drip filter machine. But no kettle. That's right - they give you tea bags, but nothing to make just plain hot water. Maybe they expect you just to suck on the bags, an idea I did briefly consider. But instead I used the drip filter machine to have coffee-flavoured tea. It was still better than the crap I was offered at breakfast.

My hotel room also only has these drip filter machines, but the free breakfast did include free non-coffee-flavoured hot water, so I might head down tomorrow just for the water, and then have a good cup of tea in my hotel room. Which sounds like a good way to start the day of our presentation.

Wish me luck!

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