As I walked around the festival I felt like a child of two divorced parents. I did not want to let any of the tea stalls see that I was drinking coffee in case they felt offended. I did want to endure the condescending glances of the coffee guys who saw me drinking tea. This was a festival that was serving two masters and it did not feel right.
Tea is wholesome, tea is warming, and tea is homely. It is the Herbal Bath of drinks and should be drunk in a candlelit room. Its provenance is well documented “from Garden to cup”. We care about where it comes from and we want to imagine ourselves picking the leaves from a mountainside. Tea comes from hospitable Asian cultures and is associated with ‘ceremonies’ which often take place sitting on cushions. The material most associated with tea is, of course, wood. It is such a worthy drink that it does not even need to have caffeine in to be called tea (as this slightly bizarre root tea proves). It is definitely healthy, full of anti-oxidants. Tea is like a motherly bosom or the ruddy cheek of a lover.
Coffee on the other hand is suspicious. It is often found in suspect locales, accompanied by cigarette smoke. Everyone has his or own preference as to how to drink this heavily caffeinated drink. We couldn’t really care less where the coffee beans came from, since the difference between different beans is negligible. It is best dark and strong, drunk by people in thick glasses who live in Bushwick and have an ‘ironic’ sense of humour (see “Coffee: the Musical” for proof). The materials that go with coffee are shiny metal or dark black plastic. I cannot say what part of the caffeinated deity coffee is but perhaps you could guess.
It seemed like the stalls had to be divided by neutral companies like a Green energy company, a cheese seller, a bank, and more. Bizarrely, the place had also become home to rival Turkish and Cretan stalls. The Turkish stall probably served the best coffee on offer. There was also an agonizingly un-manned beer stall, which I expectantly passed more than once.
The moral of the festival is that you need to decide whether you like tea or coffee more. Despite their obvious similarities, coffee and tea clearly went through a messy break up long ago and we must decide which side to take.