It ain't easy bein' a tea drinker in a coffee drinker's world
It ain't easy bein' a tea drinker in America nowadays — and frankly, it never has been.
If you're a coffee drinker, I ask you to listen. It might be hard for you to understand people who live and drink outside your experience. Tea drinkers are forced to function in a society that, intentionally or not, excludes them and their hot caffeinated beverage of choice.
I'm not here to tell you whether coffee or tea is better. There's a whole crappy hot take industry dedicated to that. All I want is for tea drinkers to finally speak up for themselves and be recognized as caffeinated equals.
Pour yourselves a cup of your favorite beverage — we don't judge drinks here, unless it's Coke Zero — and hear my story.
For most of my twenties, I lived exclusively as a tea drinker, even though I never publicly identified that way. Back then, there was nothing lamer than ordering tea with your breakfast. It was a sin worse than ordering decaf after dessert.
Coffee drinkers just couldn't understand how anyone could prefer a chai tea latte to their beloved Frappuccino. How did I wake up in the mornings? What did I order at Starbucks? Did I have a bad experience with coffee — was I hurt in any way?
It got to the point where I, like many other tea drinkers I know, just started openly lying about my preferences. It wasn't that I didn't love coffee, it was just that I was, uh, allergic. My stomach was always very sensitive to acid, and, as much as I loved coffee, my, uh, intestines couldn't handle it. Or maybe it was my esophagus? Clearly coffee was the superior choice, I'd tell them. I was forced against my will to order Earl Grey at the diner.
But love isn't easy. Tea drinkers like myself often can't go out in public without putting themselves at risk of drinking inferior tea. Too often, we go out for breakfast or dessert and are only given one tea option — a crusty bag of Lipton's from 1989. Waiters won't even bother to let the tea brew. They'll just throw a bag in there and dump a cup of cold milk, then hope for best.
Who can blame them? They were trained to make coffee, not tea. They're a product of their environment — a coffee caffeinated monoculture.
Scarier still is when tea drinkers try to make a cup of coffee at work using the office Keurig. As scientists now know, you can't use the same pot to brew coffee and tea because coffee leaves a bitter aftertaste. During my tea days, I was forced to drink one bitter, coffee-tinged cup of tea after the next.
Some days it stung too much for my body to handle. On those days, dear reader, I was forced to drink juice.
There were other slights. Tinder dates would ask me to go out for a drink or coffee — never a tea. Bagel breakfast specials would often include one free coffee, just not a tea substitution. I often had nothing to drink at the end of a wedding, except my own tears.
Friends of mine would come over and ask for a cup of coffee, then realize I had nothing to give them. Alternatively, I'd go to their home and they'd just offer me some dusty ass Roibus concoction they got as a freebie in a Christmas sampler.
I'd have friends who were tea drinkers who had so many of the same experiences, and we lived silently. We didn't have tea-based web culture we could turn to. No one understood us when we said, "You don't want to see me without my Irish Breakfast!"
Under the cover of moonlight, we would travel to the city's distant tea shoppes. There we could order our chai tea lattes in peace, free from the judgement of 21-year-old coffee nationalist baristas. The outside world didn't understand us and our secret pleasures — our discounts, our Twinings variety packs, our sleepytime Valerian root tea which should probably be made illegal.
Over time, I relented. Lured in by the promise of acceptance (and, tbh, Dunkaccinos with whipped cream), I became a coffee drinker. Life became easier. I made corny coffee jokes. I got heinous mugs. I snapped at people in the morning and got away with it because "I hadn't had my coffee yet."
Even though I identify as a coffee drinker now, I'll never abandon my advocacy for the tea community. Wherever you are, tea drinkers, know that you have a friend here at Mashable. Let's drink — one milk, two sugars — to that.