Even at fine dining restaurants in Southern California, most often, tea gets little to no respect. Here it is, the second most consumed beverage in the world, and most food professionals treat it as an afterthought. It happened to me this weekend. We were at two, white tablecloth, fine dining restaurants…had wonderfully skilled service, deliciously prepared meals; yet when I ordered tea at the first restaurant, our sommelier level 3 rated server asked me, “do you care what kind I bring you?” I said, “yes, I do. What type of tea service do you offer?” He said, “I don’t know I’ll go get the box.” He then brought me a Revolution brand tea box (which was good) and some almost hot water and forgot the cup. It was kind of funny as I was with four others who know my challenges with getting good tea outside the home, they were laughing the whole time, so was the server by the time we finished.
The next night, we were at a different fine dining restaurant, one we had wanted to go to for a long time. Had a seriously delicious meal. This time I said I’d like a cup of black tea and some milk after dinner. The server (who again was skilled and did a beautiful job) told me she was pretty sure they were out of black tea as someone asked for it last night and she had to dig through the bags to find the last one. She said this happens all the time. I didn’t order anything else and went home to make a cup of tea – and thoroughly enjoyed it.
I have had wonderful tea service at many restaurants, but it sure is “hit and miss.”
It’s a conundrum of sorts I suppose for the restaurateur, as the tea category isn’t very big for them…thus they don’t focus on it. However, it’s so minor because most consumers haven’t had a good cup of tea or tea service in a restaurant. Kind of a “catch 22.” Still, if you offer a product, I go back to the principle of quality. Ensure each segment on that menu reflects the quality of service and ingredients that make guests want to order that item again. Pretty simple really.