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Tea Scrooge

by Cynthia Fazekas

Tea...humbug?

A Tea Scrooge is that inscrutable person, who stubbornly insists that they do not like tea. We have all encountered such resistant people in our tea lives. As tea enthusiasts and tea sellers, we feel compelled to show them the light. Tea, as we know it, encompasses such variety that we wonder how can anyone simply dismiss it as a whole?

Well, they can’t – or at least they shouldn’t. Chances are these abstainers have had very limited yet negative tea experiences that have formed a narrow, rigid view of all things tea. Some possible causes below and thoughts on how to convert:

Dislike of hot beverages in general. – Whenever someone dismisses an entire genre, it makes me think trauma. Were they burned as child by a hot beverage? Sipping before it was cool or maybe having something spilled on them could have left an indelible imprint. Tea bad, tea dangerous = dislike! Fortunately, tea is also excellent when served cold and in some cases doing so brings out a complexity that is harder to detect when warm. For these folks offer a chilled tea and maybe avoid calling it tea to keep their guard down. Maybe start with a juicy, fruit and herb tisane to keep a clean break in their association with the terrible tea that harmed them. Then you can introduce something that might sound exotic to a novice such as a chilled, lightly roast Ti Kuan Yin oolong or a soft melon-like white tea to explore their palate preferences.

Tea experience has only been over-steeped fannings. – Enthusiasts know that in the past most people’s experience with tea was the disappointing murky cup of black tea leaf fannings ubiquitous in restaurants and on grocery shelves not so long ago. While most are enjoying a tea renaissance, some Tea Scrooges might still be affected by the dark ages of tea and resistant as heck. Again here, offering something that is well out of the range of novice tea knowledge is helpful and a chilled tea may also keep their defenses down. Fruity tisanes, gently brewed flavored green teas, and the super subtle white teas might break open their skeptical hearts so they can enjoy what we already love!

The contrarians. – Some people just won’t try something simply because it is trending, thus somehow protecting their uniqueness while depriving themselves of possible joy. (Writer’s confession: I do this with movies and still haven’t seen Titanic.) If you suspect your Tea Scrooge is simply avoiding tea because everyone else is drinking it, there are a couple ways to approach their resistance. Ask them what they do enjoy as a beverage and tell them that as a skeptic they would make a very good tester because they would provide honest feedback. Then offer a tea or tisane in the realm of flavors they enjoy and ask for their help in figuring out if that tea ‘needs something.’ See if they are willing. Their instinct to be helpful might override their need to resist the hipness of tea. Another approach is to tell these resistors about an esoteric tea such as pu erh or maybe Lapsang. Point out the trendy teas that everyone loves and then talk about the ones that attract an exclusive audience. This will enable them to try tea without running with the crowd in a sense because maybe they will like something out of the mainstream, thus preserving their rebellious persona.

Have you had a Tea Scrooge success story? We’d love to hear it!