Getting a cuppa in Europe

I mentioned in a post recently that I used my own teabag in a cafe in Berlin. Perhaps that needs a little explanation. It’s darn near impossible to get a good quality plain ornery cuppa in this part of the world, even in London, but certainly in Europe proper.

Kusmi contaminates everything. Typical teas:

Euphoria A tasty blend of maté, chocolate and orange, Euphoria is the perfect drink for a wellness-inspired teatime. Chocolate lovers can now indulge without feeling guilty.

Sweet Love A true invitation to awaken your senses, Sweet Love offers smooth, sensory delights. Its blend of spices, guarana, liquorice and pink peppercorn has a naturally sweet taste. No one can resist its enticing flavour.

I realised how bad things had got when I went to Boreal one day and this happened. Of the 28 varieties of Kusmi flavoured teas, they used to stock one that was just tea flavoured. If you wanted a cup of tea that didn’t taste like liquorice or peppercorns or guano (sic), you could order that one tea. But one day I walked in and even this had disappeared to make room for Prince Vladimir or detox or booster or something equally untea-like.

I wrote and complained. I asked wasn’t it enough to have 27 weirdshit varieties of tea, did they really REALLY need that 28th one? Couldn’t they squeeze in one plain tea? The management responded that they might consider it the following winter, that is to say, in many months’ time. I replied with a threat that they could not have cared less about: well, in that case, I will consider coming back to your establishment in winter. In contrast, see what happened when my local French cafe Cacao in Melbourne tried doing this to me here.

In fact I didn’t. I realised that I was much better off saving my tea money for trips elsewhere. I have tea at home. I carry around teabags for emergencies. I sometimes carry my own milk too. In Geneva, like much of Europe, almost no cafes have fresh milk. You get UHT milk, or that coffee creamer plastic tub that passes for good taste over here. Particularly mysterious, this, in a country in which the population is largely cows.

Fortunately, as is the case in Australia, where even if, like me, you don’t drink coffee, you can nonetheless reliably suppose that with good coffee comes good food and good tea, the same holds for Berlin. Go to one of those terribly earnest nothing-in-the-world-is-more-important-than-the-right-attitude-to-coffee cafes and you will get commensurate standards with what they consider to be the incidentals, that is to say, tea and food. I didn’t have a bad cup of tea in Berlin.

In fact, it was the first time since I’ve left Australia where I really felt like saying Aaaaah. Robur.

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Would YOU drink The Bard’s Quest?

A little multiple choice for you. If offered The Bard’s Quest would you

(a) pop it into the DVD player to watch
(b) read it
(c) drink it

My local coffee shop, Cafe Cacao has lost the plot. I went in a couple of weeks ago to order my usual English Breakfast, only to be told that they didn’t serve English Breakfast any more. I could get tea with various flavourings like liquorice or pumpkin, but if I wanted English breakfast, well, I’d have to order The Bard’s Quest.

Note they didn’t just tell me this, they told it to me with great pride. They were actually proud to be selling neither English breakfast tea nor Earl Grey. I was gobsmacked. I felt like saying to them, ‘Well, that’s fine with me as long as you have stopped selling Cafe Latte and Long Black too.’

In fear and trepidation I did order The Bard’s Quest. Honestly, though, it isn’t something you should get in a coffee shop. It is a DVD, or volume 48 of some never ending fantasy series. Would, I wondered as I started to pour, a little Hobbit jump out of the spout? Bottom line, having tried it twice, is that the tea’s no good. Not if you want English Breakfast.

Order has been restored. The manager has brought back the very same English Breakfast leaf tea they used before specially for me…and for anybody else who can’t bear to order The Bard’s Quest.