Some of you are probably thinking right now: “Gee, she’s making a really big assumption here. That it’s possible to get a good cuppa tea at a coffee shop.” No assumptions being made here, since I have experienced this seemingly impossible feat.
To some, the very thought of getting tea in a coffee shop is practically blasphemous. The smell of the coffee beans and the fresh ground coffee, plus the brewed coffee are strong enough usually to overwhelm the more delicate aromas and flavors of the tea. How do you enjoy a delicate tea in such an atmosphere? If you are the type that really pays attention to the sensory nuances of your tea, this will be a big problem. So, the first step is to face the fact that you will most likely be going for a tea with a more prominent aroma and flavor.
Another fact tea drinkers have to deal with in coffee shops is the usage of tea concentrates in preparing chai lattés and other specialty tea drinks. One particular coffee shop chain even bought the company that makes the concentrates they routinely serve. Just don’t expect the same taste experience you’ll get when you make your own stovetop chai.
Some coffee shops carry brand name tea bags such as Harney & Sons, which is a “silk” (actually, nylon or some other material) pyramid bag filled with tea leaf pieces instead of dust and fannings. Sadly, the water is usually not freshly boiled and is generally heated to the same temperature (really, really hot in some places and downright tepid in others), no matter what type of tea you’re having.
The answer to getting a really good cuppa in a coffee shop seems to be to avoid the specialty tea drinks and the more delicate tasting and smelling teas, going instead for their regular teas that are stronger in character. And since there is quite a variety between coffee shops, you will also be better off if you select one that has the type of tea you want and that you know heats the water sufficiently.
In short, do a bit of homework or even private investigation. Then, you won’t go far wrong!
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