(Don’t) Put ’em on the glass

As a restaurant critic, I fancy myself the kind of person with a finely honed palate immune to trickery like squeeze-bottle sauce acrobatics, prepared to hand down an unbiased opinion on anything from barbecue to haute cuisine.

I’m wrong, of course. I’m like the guy who claims to be too smart to be influenced by TV commercials. An experience this morning brought home just what a dupe I am.

On the way to an appointment I stopped in at one of my usual downtown Seattle wi-fi spots, Dilettante in Westlake Center. (The others are Zeitgeist, Central Library, and Top Pot; anyone know any others?) It’s not the most scenic, but it’s extremely convenient, and sometime unscenic surroundings are just what you need to awaken the inward eye.

I bypassed their rich chocolate-laden specialty drinks (I’d been snacking on a dark Aero bar on the way there) and ordered a black tea. The tea is inexpensive, and the leaves are good quality–they serve Harney & Sons, the ones in the gossamer silk bags. But I didn’t enjoy the tea very much, because it was served in a glass.

The devil on my shoulder, the one who can justify anything, piped up. “There are plenty of scientific, objective reasons why tea might taste worse in glass. Maybe it has to do with the insulating properties of the materials or, uh, I got nothing here.” When your little devil craps out, that is sad. The fact is, I like drinking tea from a ceramic cup (a coffee mug is close enough) because tea and ceramic have always been together, like Siegfried and Roy. Also, I like the feeling of the grooves worn into the cup rim by previous drinkers, and if you think I’m going to turn that into a Siegfried and Roy joke, well, bite me.

If they ever do a movie like _Sideways_ about tea drinkers, they can hire me to sit at a coffeeshop drinking my darjeeling from a pint glass, and the audience will give the same heartbroken giggle they did when Miles drank his Cheval Blanc from a fast-food cup.

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