Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Starbucks and Tea

As you may know, I like Starbucks. It is one of my favourite coffee stores. I have enjoyed Starbucks in Vancouver, Toronto, New York City, Belleville, Windsor and Brantford, to name a few places. I've also got a collection of Starbucks cards, which I use extensively. I also make sure I have a balance on one of them, so that if the thought strikes me, I can enjoy a nice Starbucks drink.

One thing we all know about Starbucks is that they sell coffee and espresso. Usually the joke has been made as to the price of the coffee or how people have established their own language when ordering their favourite drink. Still I can't kick, they keep one of my daughter's employed as a baristra.

Over the years, Starbucks has expanded their menu and one of the major additions after their Frappuccino has been their Tazo teas.

While a good concept, I'm afraid in some cases, Starbucks has not done tea drinkers a service with their various concoctions. To wit, in some cases they have decided to devise a tea latte. Now my problem is this, tea is not to be latte. I do understand and quote extensively the saying Blythe used in the movie The Great Escape that "Tea without milk is so uncivilized". He said this to Flt Lt Anthony Hendley, by the way. There is a difference between adding a bit of milk to your tea and a latte. A latte is a rather large amount of milk. I tried their Vanilla Rooibos Latte and realized they had ruined the flavour of the Rooibos tea through the process.

There could be other examples, but I think the problem is one of concept, tea is by nature, a delicate infusion of tea leaves and hot water. It is drink that may be the puriest and simpliest drink of them all, after water. It is no wonder that tea was adopted by Buddhists accepted it as their drink. It is a very zen experience, to watch the play of leaves and water.

Certainly tea has been a great source of inspiration. There has been some great poetry written about tea. To give an example:
Saw Luk Yu off to Pick Tea

Thousand mountains greeted my departing friend
When spring tea blossoming again
With indepth knowledge in picking tea
Through morning mist or red evening clouds
His solitary journey is my envy
Rendezvous in a temple of a remote mountain
We enjoyed picnic by a clear pebble fountain
In this silent night
Lit up a candle light
I knocked a marble bell for chime
While deep in thought for old time.

Huang Pu Zhen-- Tang Dynasty poet, friend of Tea Sage Luk Yu

So I say to Starbucks, allow the tea to express itself as it should, the simplier the better.


No comments: