Strained Relations



I live in Melbourne and I am a tea drinker.

"So what?" I hear you ask. Well, good point. You're right, never mind... No, wait a second! That's exactly the type of dismissive attitude that has left me and all young tea drinkers feeling like second class citizens in this city.

America likes guns, Japan likes tasty whales and Melbourne likes coffee. Admittedly, coffee is not in the same league as the other two vices, but my point is: for Melbournians, drinking coffee is the done thing.

There's no great problem with Melbourne's coffee obsession; cafes need patrons, hipsters need barista work, Guatemalans need exploiting and children need to labour.

But the real issue is coffee culture is so pervasive, tea drinkers are looked down on.

When friends, family, or co conspirators invite you to catch up for coffee, the presumption is you will drink some variety of coffee when you meet. If you don't like coffee, that's when the problems begin.

"Oh, you're getting tea?"

Or if you order a peppermint tea, "Oh, tummy troubles?"

Firstly, it's rude to presume a state of normalcy and question someone when you perceive them to be outside of it.

It's like asking someone right off the bat what county they came from, or what football team they follow, or what local S&M dungeon they frequent?

Maybe there's a good reason why your friend doesn't like coffee. Perhaps they were involved in a horrific bean accident or their father was freeze dried during a Moccona factory tour.

And why would you think drinking peppermint tea is so shockingly out of the ordinary that only a medical problem would force you to drink it?

Isn't it impolite to ask about people's bowels, anyway? If it's not, I've wasted so many years. I wonder about intestinal health all the time. When I meet with people, it's my primary concern. I have to muster all my restraint not to ask if they are in need of bran.

That's largely because I'm a bran wholesaler, but it's not the sole reason...

Tea drinkers, or 'Colonial Era Wankers' as we prefer to be called, are also subject to sub par service compared to our cafe latte overlords. In all my years drinking English/Irish breakfast, I've only been served the drink in a tea cup once. You're usually given a coffee cup or wad of tea soaked serviettes to drink from. Imagine if you were given a latte in a vessel intended for cappuccinos. You'd loose your mind! There'd be outrage and a royal commission set-up to investigate whether the cause was a broken dishwasher, or a symptom of broader coffee education failure.

All I'm asking is that tea drinkers be treated with a little bit of respect. After all, we don't ask for much, except a pot, a strainer, a side jug of milk, a spoon, a saucer, a little metal thing to rest the strainer and occasionally an extra pot of hot water in case the tea is too strong. Now, does anyone need some bran?