June 29, 2005

Floor sweepings.

I make periodic trips across the border to buy the special intoxicants without which I cannot function. I take BART all the way into Oakland, then I walk up to the Khanh Phong supermarket on 9th Street and buy a box of green tea. It's $2 for 100 tea bags, mass-imported from China under the auspices of the Spring Tea Company. Sometimes, when the cravings get bad, I buy two boxes.

If one of the tea bags breaks (you could cut one open, but you'd be throwing two cents down the drain), you can see that the tea leaves have been ground up into tiny, unrecognizable pieces. At that size they could be leaves, or stems, or grass clippings from the lawn outside the packing plant. An article that I once read in a snooty food magazine told me that in making a good tea, the leaves are handled gently so that each one is left whole. This is not a good tea. This is a tea that would make the Stash Company cry, and after two years of drinking it I've found that nice teas taste terrible to me. It's the crack of tea.

The shorter project manager in my office is a coffee junkie. With the move to the new building we no longer have a coffeeshop across the street, so he's been pleading with me to get some ground coffee for the coffeemaker. I assured him on Monday that the office manager was on the job and he'd have his coffee soon. He thought for a second and told me that I should ask her to get me some tea while she was at it. I shook my head and told him that I buy my own tea, at which he nodded sagely. "Organic tea," he said, "of course."

I spluttered and almost spit a two-cent cup of floor sweepings on him. But I'm sure that the pile of sweepings grew without help from any artificial fertilizers, so that's all right.

Posted by dianna at June 29, 2005 10:29 AM

To Chinese people, teabags are only used because it's the only way to sell and use "floor-sweeping"-grade tea. It's kind of funny to see all the new boutique teas from Western companies that are sold via bags -- with the bags often being such pretty little satchels that one's hard-pressed to drown them in boiling water.

Anyway...you might want to try some whole-leaf teas. While high-grade teas can be goofy-expensive, you can find very economical loose teas -- packed either in a tin or even in individual-serving-sized packages. Yeah, it might be, I dunno, ten cents per serving, but that's still exponentially cheaper than a cup of bean juice from Starbucks.

Posted by: Chester at June 29, 2005 02:10 PM

Yes, I know. I've tried a number of nice teas, whole and otherwise. I don't like any of them as much as my crap-in-a-box from Chinatown, which tastes wonderful. That's why I drink it. The price, ease of purchasing, and ghettofabulousness are just S5.1-S5.3, which is to say, details.

Posted by: Dianna at June 29, 2005 06:01 PM