Monday, 17 January 2011


Courtesy of review website Qype and generally keeping my ear to the ground on the old Twitternet, I’ve been fortunate enough to receive an invitation to a Tea Party. No, not one of those. This tea-tasting event will take place in an Art Deco inspired tea salon which I’ve often admired on the way home from work. Before being alarmed by the dog in the window at the nearby hairdressers. Gets me every time.

This will make a stark change from the usual Starbucks trips. Since arriving in the city in October 2010, I have visited 3 of the...7? Starbucks branches in Brighton. Starbucks who of course are so well known that they don’t need to put their name on their packaging anymore. My friends often choose the (in)famous chain for a meeting point and while I acknowledge the convenience, my inner Naomi Klein gurgles in horror, her cries drowned out as I sip on a Caffè Mocha. However, I long gave up my resolution to boycott Coke and McDonalds so avoiding SB seems pretty pointless.

I’ve actually never been a huge fan of tea or coffee. I have an early memory of sitting in a Belgian cafe with my parents who were desperately trying to force coffee down my throat, nudging me and pointing to a boy possibly a year or so older than me who was politely sipping with little finger (or ‘pinky’, if you’re in Starbucks) extended. “Look how grown up he is! Don’t you want to be just like him?” Yes, because children could really do with the energising qualities of a refreshment such as coffee, can’t they. Is how I would’ve retorted had I had the knowledge of the necessary vocabulary. I recall returning to my squash and Tintin comics. I didn’t have the foggiest of what was going on in those colourful pages, but AWWWH! Lookit the lickle doggie!

Who later took up residence at Top-to-Toe, 45 Upper St James Street.

I sometimes wish I had converted to the tea party brigade at an early age though. I enjoy hot chocolate and fruit teas but workplace budgets don’t often stretch to the heady heights of those exotic delicacies. I remember a boss apologising to a client over the phone after I rudely and noisily opened a can of coke one lunchtime. “Karen’s on the beer again!” Eye roll. I despise eating and drinking at always gives colleagues the opportunity to turn their attention away from their spreadsheets and pick apart your salad for you. “Oooh, whadja got there?” FOOD. FUCK OFF.

If I had tea-drinking instilled in me I could use it as the ever popular excuse from bunking off work. Not in the sense that “I’m late for work because I slipped on a teabag” type common catastrophe thing; but in the wider sense of procrastination. Not to tar every office worker with the same browned ‘stainless steel’ teaspoon, but there does seem to be a lot of faffing involved with the whole tea-making process. Taking colleagues orders (again, here you can insert scrutiny on their choices), drying up cups, brewing, the inevitable oh-no-we’re-out-of-milk-for-the-third-time-today detour to the cornershop, re-boiling of the kettle, delivering teas and coffees, talk about them some more, wash up when finished. These endless coffee and cigarette breaks mean I don’t feel nearly as guilty about my ‘internet breaks’ as I should do.

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