Have you ordered a cup of tea in a restaurant lately?

I’d be most curious to hear about your experience. After 13 years in the tea industry, I’d given up on ordering hot tea in restaurants long ago. Lately, though, I’m doing a bit of an experiment to see if anything has changed.

It’s a bit too soon for a clear and fair conclusion but what I’ve experienced so far is not very encouraging. It still appears tea is a forgotten element in most establishments. Oh, you’ll probably find it on the menu, but just watch the expression of your server if you order it. Don’t ask too many questions, either.

I’ll be reporting my experiences and keeping a photo log of what transpires from location to location.

What prompted my desire to go exploring was more about HOW tea was being served; now it’s about WHAT it’s served in, and the perception of the server, as well as the preparation of the establishment. Has anyone put any thought into the type of tea offered? Was there any forethought to the actual service of tea? What comes with the tea? Are there any dessert options?

The photo I’ve included was how tea was served to me last month. It reminded me of my teenage years — over forty years ago — because not much had changed!

The sale of tea in America has been rising steadily for well over two decades.

The amount of tea that is imported into this country is almost shocking. Most of it is black tea and the preparation of it is for iced tea. Although green tea has seen some significant growth; black tea over ice is still the favorite.

Ready-to-drink teas are growing in variety to keep up with the huge demand for them. These are bottled, canned, and refrigerated teas. Check out what is happening in the grocery stores near you. Tea is occupying many shelves in the soda aisle, in refrigerators, and even special refrigerated units are being installed to stock new versions of bottled teas and Kombucha. I have watched the coffee and tea aisle change over the last decade with larger selections of both beverages, but significantly so in the tea shelves; especially in large cities like San Diego.

The Inland Empire, just an hour up the road from San Diego, is behind in their grocery stores. The boxed tea shelves are still rather meager but not the refrigerated shelves or the number of bottled tea selections in the soda aisle.

A lot is changing; tea is trending, big time! The restaurant industry seems to be shielded by blinders of some kind.

Clunky, cafeteria-style mugs, outdated metal teapots, old and stale teabag selections that are sold in every grocery store and discount store — who wants that?! I sure don’t and I’m truly disappointed to see the lack of attention to tea.

The refinement of tea service in this country in long overdue.

This isn’t about every establishment offering Afternoon Tea, it’s just about giving tea some thought, some planning, and the dignity it deserves!

This is the number one beverage on the planet! Yes, TEA is, next to water, of course. I can’t imagine what foreigners think when they order tea in America.

Sure, we’ve seen growth in tea shops and tea chains, but little growth from the restaurant industry. Oh, everyone jumped on the coffee bandwagon, didn’t they? The tea bandwagon hasn’t happened just yet. Indeed some are getting it. Some places must be doing it nicely. If I find them, I will let you know. So far, I haven’t. Even those charging upwards of fifty dollars for Afternoon Tea, need to check in on their level of tea service because I have had two recent disappointing experiences with them, as well.

The presentation of the tea has been superb but the quality of tea and actual serving of it needs some serious attention. Even when all the attention is on the food, I was served the worst scone I’ve ever had in my life in a fine and renown hotel that brags about their daily Afternoon Tea service.

America, we can do this!

I’m working on some ideas — I’ll keep you posted.


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Dharlene Marie Fahl is an entrepreneur and approaches everything she does with a universal, collaborative and cooperative spirit and is a CEO Space graduate and lifetime member. She has been a retail gift shop owner, a healing centre owner and operator, as well as a restaurant general manager and a director of training for a restaurant company responsible for seven restaurants. Her education and training is in Hospitality Management.

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