I’ve tried to adapt. Change is good. It keeps things fresh, they say. Minty fresh, in fact.
A couple of months ago I was forced to accept that my favorite hot beverage at Starbucks, Tazo Zen tea, a refreshing blend (or Un mélange harmonieux as it says on the box) of green tea, lemon verbena, spearmint and lemongrass, was being “phased out”. Everyone’s chosen corporate coffee caterer had acquired a new tea provider, the utopian-sounding Teavana. It would be selling its teas now. Oprah was wheeled in to lend her name to some chai concoction. Well, if the Big O juggernaut is involved…I grumbled moodily to myself, and stocked up on boxes of Tazo from Whole Foods.
Thus came the day when my medicinally-hued green box was no longer behind the counter. “Don’t you have even one sachet left, fallen behind the boxes maybe?” The barista shook her head. I was being cut off, encouraged to choose instead from a patchwork wall of lavender, coral and blue boxes. Unlikely shades for tea, I thought. Flashy, like the dance floor on Saturday Night Fever. I asked for the closest thing to Tazo Zen. “Oh that’ll be our Jade Citrus Mint. You’ll love it. It’s delicious.”
I didn’t love it. Overwhelming taste of mint.
The next time I asked for a regular no-frills green tea. “No herbal or fruit-flavored, just regular green.” What I sipped was again Jade Citrus Mint. I took it back to the counter. “Oh, that’s not what you wanted? We have our Emperor’s Clouds and Mist.”
“That’s our regular green. Would you like to try it?”
That tasted fine. Simple green. Next time, I leaned in close and asked for a Grande Emperor’s Clouds and Mists. I didn’t want to have to repeat the embarrassing nomenclature.
“Excuse me?” said the barista. His colleague at the till pulled a face and both of them looked at each other like I was asking for a gram of street value crack. “Your green tea,” I prompted.
What did I get? Jade Citrus Whatever.
Over the course of my next few visits, we reached an understanding. I even got to a point where I abbreviated my order to “Grande Emperor’s, please.” And the barista turned and made straight for the pale blue box (but the tea is green–the merchandising neurons in my brain lit up in objection.)
Still. In a colorless world, we were speaking the same language. The barista’s recognition was almost like the proprietor of a public house nodding in greeting and saying “Your usual, Madam?”
Then several weeks later, my barista didn’t turn immediately. He said they were out of Emperors Clouds and Mist. “We have Jade Citrus Mint,” he offered. I settled reluctantly on an Earl Grey. Each subsequent visit there was nothing for me but Earl Grey.
Then they ran out of Earl Grey.
“But we have Jade Citrus Mint.”
Quel mélange disharmonieux.
My first novel Silk for the Feed Dogs, written during a decadent era of blissful overconsumption of Tazo Zen tea, is available here. If you are in Australia, it is on a special Kindle promotion for the rest of the week here.