Friday, February 24, 2012

Tea is for Trouble

I found myself one day at MIT, and I thought fondly of my friend, C, who had moved across the country with her family some years ago. She and I had had similar jobs, mine at Harvard, hers at MIT.  Our bosses were good friends and we easily became friends, too. "Gee," I thought to myself, "I wonder if C is on Facebook." I went home, had a look, and there she was. Soon enough we were in touch, caught up ever so briefly and, as they had moved back to Boston, we made a date to meet up at Bernard's in the Mall at Chestnut Hill for lunch and a formal catchup. Lunch was delicious, the company was wonderful and I had a marvelous afternoon. We walked a bit around the mall after lunch.

She needed to stop at Teavana, which I took as a sign. I had never been inside one, but with Ash Wednesday and Lent ahead of us, I thought of my looming sacrifice: for both my spiritual growth and liver, I had decided to give up diet soda. Obviously a familiar face at the store, she asked for two pounds (Two! Pounds!) of her preferred tea, and the clerk bundled up, I kid you not, a grocery-bag-sized package of tea for her. I had never seen so much tea in my life.

Even if I replaced one-for-one every diet soda I drank in the course of a day with a pot of tea, I wouldn't need that much tea in a year.  So instead I asked for a quarter pound of Earl Grey and a quarter pound of Himalayan Splendor (how could I resist such an evocative name?) along with an airtight tin for each. The tins were labelled, and I remember thinking that ten dollars was a lot of money for tea, but it was Chestnut Hill, after all: a pretty swanky mall; and this was for Lent (a thought which, if brought to its logical conclusion, would go something like this: "What? It's Lent -- I should deprive myself just because it's expensive?")

So my first mistake was not quite thinking my Lenten sacrifice all the way through.

I choked (holding the actual gasp in check) when the clerk rang me up and announced, "That will be $102, please." But I was with my old friend, whom I hadn't seen in years, and I didn't want to be the cheap one. It was only then that I looked at the sign a little more carefully: $10 per ounce. Oops. So I swallowed my good sense, handed over my credit card, and bought one-hundred-and-two-dollars' worth of tea that day.

To add insult to injury, when I got home I inspected the receipt and discovered they had charged me for FIVE ounces of the Earl Grey. Except I was so mad at myself for buying the stupid tea in the first place I couldn't muster up any more emotion to be mad at them for overcharging me.

In a year I have made exactly one cup with that poison tea. I tried to enjoy it, and it was indeed delicious tea. But one-hundred-and-two-dollars' worth of delish? Not. Even. Close.

RIP, Mr. T
19?? - 2012


  1. LOL. Good story. $10 per ounce. Wow. Hope it tasted okay.

  2. Kathy from New JerseyFebruary 25, 2012 at 2:58 PM

    Linda...I know I should comment on the tea story, but I didn't realize that Agent 98's Mr. T passed away. Sorry to hear :(
    And, the tea...I know, if there is a next time and similar situation, you'll tell the cashier, "no thanks, I've changed my mind".

  3. No, thank you; I've changed my mind ... no thank you; I've changed my mind ... no thank you; I've changed my mind ... no thank you; I've changed my mind ... no thank you; I've changed my mind ... no thank you; I've changed my mind ... no thank you; I've changed my mind ...

  4. I'm a serious tea drinker. Teavana amuses the heck out of me, or did back when I lived near one. They push all the "health" teas and the fancy teas. And the staff... collage age granola-hippy-vegan kids who want to tell you all about antioxidants and tea for weight loss. For someone like me who was drinking hot tea at my grandmother's house at three or four, I just want to pat them on their dread-locked heads and say, I was drinking tea before you were born. But the best thing is their "Mrs. Earl Gray" offering. It's yummy, Earl Gray with a hint of vanilla, but woefully misnamed as it ought to be "Lady Gray" as it can be had in other brands.