UnderCover Waitress: Tea Drinkers

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Tea Drinkers

I love tea. Warm and friendly, there is a bounty of varietal tea flavors available from around the world.  Good quality English Breakfast tea makes my mouth water, as do strong chai spices mixed with aromatic black teas and a little honey and milk.

Some wake you up, others put you to sleep, and don't forget that fresh, organic tea herbs maintain some medicinal qualities. Yes, I love tea. But like many waiters and waitresses, I hate tea drinkers.

We brew coffee all day. $2.00 for a little cup of coffee and you can have all the refills you want. There is sugar on the table and plenty of small pitchers of cream in the fridge ready to be served. We are ready for the coffee drinkers.

Tea? If you want to drink tea, you probably want to see a selection. Which means we bring you a tea caddy to sort through. We pour hot water into the cute china tea pot, grab the special tea cup and make sure it's warm, lemon slices from the bar and the honey. Except the honey is empty which means going back into the kitchen for honey, being told it's in the mud room, and I don't need to point out that the big thing of bulk honey is heavy and sticky. Ironically, it is also kept on the highest shelf. An extra trip to the hand washing sink to wash off the goo and we approach your table balancing just one tea service that takes up an entire tray. And you are probably wondering what took us so long.

Those with compromised immune systems should not drink tea. The tea drinker before you didn't wash hands in the restroom, and had a toddler coughing all over the tea pot. While the tea cups go strait to the dish washer to be disinfected for the next person, the tea pots just get rinsed out between uses. (They get washed now and then.)

The issue of the tea caddy on the table is a source of constant problems. After watching a tea drinker shove all of the black decaf tea bags into her purse, I decided it would be best to remove the caddy as soon as possible. That is why some waitresses ask what flavor tea you want when you order it -- saves us the hassles of the tea caddy.

Sure, we can remove it right away, but that sends out the message that "we think you are going to steal." The adversarial energy does not lead to generous tips.

Then there is the bigger question: if coffee cups are "bottomless," why not tea cups? The price is the same, but if somebody wants a second tea bag they can be charged twice. Had a table request a second tea bag which I politely brought to them. I thought about it and decided to charge for the tea bag, believing that is what the owner would expect. The looks on their faces when I picked up the check told me they were unhappy, and yes, they paid in cash and took the tea charge out of my tip.

Regardless of whether I should have thrown in the extra tea bag or not, word to the wise: if you can afford to spend $50-$100 on yourselves for one meal, you can afford the extra two bucks for an extra tea bag. Don't take it out on the working stiff.

So, yeah, I love tea, but I don't love tea drinkers.
ESP Emporium Healthy Loose Leaf Teas

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