The time has come for tea drinkers in these here United States to take action. I'm not exactly sure what kind of action yet, but I'm working on a plan.
As a tea drinker all my life, I'm tired of the discrimination I endure every time I sit down in a diner or restaurant. The waitress comes over and asks if I want coffee. I politely decline and ask for tea with lemon. Now the tea shows up -- one bag floating in tepid water.
I have to ask for lemon for the second time. When I'm in a playful mood, I ask for lime, which has stopped a waitress or two in their tracks, nearly causing whiplash.
"Did you say lime?" she asks incredulously with a boring glare. Hmmm, I didn't exactly ask for motor oil or her life savings.
However, when you turn down coffee in some eateries, a waitress might act as if you've committed a treasonous act. She might eye you suspiciously as if you might be a possible terrorist come to wreak havoc. You can't be too careful these days. Her fingers are poised to dial 911.
Even worse is when you're the only tea drinker among a group of coffee guzzlers, you stand out like the guy who wears a shirt pocket liner with flip down sunglasses, and black ankle-length socks with sandals. But that's all right; you're used to being different by now.
As much as it might bother her, the waitress returns with the tea bag, a cup of tepid water and a dried out wedge of lemon or lime that she found in the bartender's fruit holder left over from last night.
I mix in my fixings -- sugar and lemon (lime occasionally) and sip my tea. The waitress returns in a few minutes and asks if anyone else at the table would like more coffee. Now this is the part that really makes tea drinkers boil.
If you want more coffee, they doll it out by the gallons. You can guzzle additional cups of coffee at no extra charge until your nerves are frazzled. But when you ask for another cup of tea, now you've stepped over the line.
As a rule, the waitress returns with a pot of hot water that she pours over your dried-out tea bag. Coffee drinkers might not appreciate this, but if you allow a tea bag to steep in a cup that's about all you get out of it -- one cup. When you try to get a second out of the soggy, used tea bag, you get weakened version that looks like rust water. In fact, your second cup of tea tastes like it came out of a rusty pipe.
I get that coffee drinkers rule in America, consuming 45 million pounds each year, which works out to 3.4 cups per coffee drinker daily or close to 1,200 cups annually. Yowzer. For the record, there are 108,000,000 coffee drinkers, according to Coffee Search.
And, not that tea drinkers are sulking, but we've noticed that the growth of coffeehouses across the country is staggering with more than 50,000 and growing. Chain coffee shops have become iconic as apple pie, potato chips and Devil Dogs. Where does it stop?
Here's a warning to any tea drinker who wanders into a coffee shop: Don't. You have entered enemy territory; and just to show you that you're a second class citizen, you're going to be charged the same outrageous price as a coffee latte for a tea bag and hot water. God help you if you order a refill.
But, then again, you should go in with eyes wide open, expecting little and probably getting less from these gourmet coffee shops. And to make this fiasco even worse, you're probably going to get a cup of tea where the water was boiled in a pot that once brewed coffee. Yuck. The coffee leaves a bitter residue on the inside of the pot that leaks into your tea. It's the tea drinker's equivalent of sipping sludge.
As I bang the gong for tea drinkers, I'm not advocating for all. Sorry, but the herbal tea drinkers are on their own; they need to hop onto their tea soap box as a unique species.
For the record, most herbal teas are not tea at all. How's that for a shocker. Herbal teas are made from roots, flowers, herbs, spices and probably perfume (not really, I made that up) and contain no tea leaves.
We rugged orange pekoe, black, green and Ceylon tea drinkers just want equal rights with coffee drinkers. We're tired of being the tepid afterthoughts of the wait staff. I've seen how the majority sips, and I want some of that respect. I'm even willing to bring my own lime wedge, if I can get a fresh tea bag on my refill. Then equality will be ours.
Frank Szivos is a freelance writer who beats the gong for tea drinker equality. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.