Tea: Taiwan #18, originally uploaded by coffeedirtdog.
Volume, selection, and cheap prices are the norm around here for our leafed brews. Tea has never gotten a real stage here and there are a multitude of reasons.
The big difference between coffee and tea is the learning curve involved. Teas may be easier to brew but in coffee, anyone who pours a rosetta can and does claim expertise.
There is no equivalent in tea which can make it's presentation or service valuable to the newbie barista. Unlike coffee, there are few ways beyond taste to contrast the visual appearance related to it's quality. The depth of options available coupled with the lack of access to top quality puts teas as a second tier product in most cafes.
The best teas receive extremely high prices in other countries and the US market has a relatively weak demand for higher priced teas. Even tasting a properly brewed competition grade Oolong would be an incredibly rare experience.
We are lucky in the US when it comes to coffee. We're geographically close to some of the best coffees in the world and the costs are still affordable to taste the premium coffees. It may not always be that way so enjoy it now.
As I head off to visit tea farms, I'll be thinking about just this. I'll try to bring home a unique Tea experience to share and hopefully the taste alone will be enough to inspire more focus on teas as well as the usual coffee attention we all have.