Australia has an vibrant coffee culture, helped no doubt by the arrival down under of large numbers of southern Europeans in decades gone by. People for whom coffee is not just a hot drink, more a way of life.
In modern day Australian cities, a great cup of coffee is seldom more than a stone’s throw away and the role of the barista has become a desirable occupation amongst the local hipsters on a par with being a DJ, graphic artist, pro-skateboarder or street poet.
Amidst all of this coffee noise, poor old tea has struggled to make itself heard. Retailers like T2 have made some attempts to forge an alternative tea culture, but they still have an uphill struggle.
But over in the UK, it seems that the roles are reversed.
Good coffee is still an elusive beast here. Sure, there are some chains that will offer consistency (Starbucks, Caffe Nero, etc), but I’ve yet to find many independent coffee shops that serve anything much more than hot brown water.
Tea, on the other hand is a British institution.
Yesterday, we had two separate sets of tradesmen at our house and I reckon I must have burned through half a box of PG Tips as they binge-drunk their way through the day.
What’s more, it appears that whenever we visit anyone, we are scarcely inside the door before our host has rushed off muttering “I’ll make some tea”. Day or night.
And the teapot that gathered dust in the back of my cupboard for years in Sydney has now been promoted to a far more prominent position in the kitchen and we even have a smart new set of tea cups to accompany it.
I could carry on to debate important tea-related issues such as ‘milk in first or last’ or whether to warm the pot first, but I think I’ll hold that off for another day.
Meanwhile, it’s high time I got the kettle on.