Monday, March 28, 2011

The Continuing Frustration with Restaurant Tea

To celebrate my Husband's birthday, we went out to a fairly new 3-star restaurant. Food was delicious, but tea was a huge letdown. As I've mentioned in previous posts, the lack of thought given to tea continues to be an issue. It's frustrating to enjoy a wonderful dinner just to have a sad cup of tea at the end. When we asked our server where the tea was from, he immediately boasted that their coffee was La Colombe, which is a popular higher end roaster (um, I didn't ask, but thanks for letting me know?). The only info he had about the tea was the website printed on the label, and that 'they have been happy with the product'. The selection? English Breakfast, Earl Grey, 'a green tea', chamomile, and peppermint. Sigh. I was so annoyed that I actually ordered coffee instead. I wanted a black tea, and didn't want to order English Breakfast at 8pm (even though I've asked for it when in this situation before) and I don't care for Earl Grey. Husband had the 'green tea'. What arrived was a tiny silver teapot with an enormous teabag inside. The pot looked as if it held about 8 ounces, but definitely not more. We had no idea how long the tea had been steeping, and were not given any instructions on when to take it out. The resulting brew actually wasn't bad, especially considering that there was far too much tea for the pot. Surprisingly, it didn't have much flavor, but was a bit bitter from being over-steeped.

My husband decided to have a chat with the server to see if we could get any more information about their tea choice. Apparently they had started out using loose tea but it was somehow tied to the coffee company, and so when they switched to La Colombe they had to find a new tea vendor. They picked an online vendor, and were satisfied. When hubby pointed out that no one told us when to remove the teabag, the server did comment that tea service needed to be worked on. I am confident that this server will communicate our comments to the management, but who knows if it will actually change anything. But they are a new restaurant, and open to suggestions. So hopefully our comments will be helpful. They did seem genuinely interested in what we had to say.

Sadly, coffee outsells tea in most high end restaurants. And not many diners speak up when the tea is unsatisfactory. Next time you are unhappy with the tea you are served, definitely talk to the server, or even the management. They are usually happy for the feedback, and if enough people speak up, it will lead to better tea choices.


  1. My mother was at a popular local diner over the weekend and she was ecstatic because they provided two tea bags and plenty of hot, hot water...which is more than she generally finds while dining out!

  2. Which restaurant was this!? ...and Happy Birthday to your hubby!

  3. @Yosh ok, I'll was Ai Fiori.

    @Kerri that diner is doing better than many places around here!!

  4. sigh. I feel you pain. it's so terrible to end a meal with such a sad pot of tea. I am really hoping that restaurants will start to care more about the tea they serve and teach their staff how to properly steep it. time to really push my tea consulting sessions for restaurants. they just need the basics.

  5. I couldn't agree more with your story. Most restaurants don't have a clue when it comes to serving tea properly. Nearly all hand you a collection of Stash or similar tea bag packets to choose from, a cut (or if you are lucky) a shiny metal mini teapot of hot water like you got) and that's it. I prefer to dunk the bag myself as I then know how long it's been steeping. But getting selection of loose leaf teas to pick from and delivered with a timer and plenty of hot water... that will be the day!