I learned how to be a Jewish Teabagger from my mother who learned from her mother who undoubtedly learned from her mother before that. I come from a long line of Jewish Teabaggers.
The first time I witnessed Jewish Teabagging was at a restaurant with my family. My mother ordered a tea after dinner and drank from her cup, pinky extended. When finished, she placed her used, wet tea bag on her teaspoon, wound the tea bag string around the tea bag and strangled the excess tea out of the tea bag. She then wrapped the used teabag in a napkin and stored it in her pocketbook to be used again at home after reintroducing the dehydrated sachet of tealeaves to some hot water and lemon.
We Jews are known to be a frugal people, and there are no shortage of unflattering stereotypes that reflect our spending, saving, and negotiating habits. My ancestors were humble shtetl folk who scraped together pennies and saved what they could and occasionally helped themselves to sugar packets presented like free samples on restaurant tables. We collected and stored and saved everything – including tea bags. But over time, the practice that was born from necessity eventually blossomed into an artful tradition I honor today.
It is because of my teabagging heritage that I became addicted to the Venti Tazo Zen tea at Starbucks. The Tazo Zen is a light, green tea that is both invigorating and smooth, unlike the stronger, woodsy taste of China Green. But it wasn’t so much the flavor of the tea that got me hooked as the ample size of the two tea bags that come in Venti. I crave those two enormous, soggy sacks steeped in a 20-ounce-cup. I’m a teabagging lesbian and proud.
But here’s where teabagging Venti style gets super sexy and Jewy. Once I’ve finished that first cup, I can easily refill that Venti with my own boiled water, and it will still taste as green and fresh as it did the first time — because of the two enormous tea bags filled with tealeaves. But wait, there’s more! Refills are free for Starbucks card members. And, when I present my empty cup and ask for a refill, the baristas give me two fresh tea bags. We’re talking about the equivalent of 4 Venti sized cups of tea for the price of one! My Bubby would have been so proud.
I never took my advantaged teabagging life for granted. I was grateful for the opportunity to drink many cups of green tea while honoring the traditions of my people – all with the help of the Starbucks app that made purchasing even easier.
And then last month, the baristas at Starbucks informed me that the company was switching from its Tazo brand of to another of its own Teavana brand. Fine by me, I thought as long as there were enormous teabags filled with green tea that allowed me to continue to practice my Jewish tradition. But when I went back the next day, all the tea was gone. ALL of it. They let the reserves of the old brand of tea run out and waited for weeks – WEEKS – until the new tea came in. They left all of us tea drinkers completely high and dry. And when they did restock? The only tea available was Pineapple Tea. Pineapple?!? I suffered a deep tea-pression.
My local Starbucks now offers the complete selection of Teavana tea, including a woodsy green, but I’m having a difficult time letting go of my anger, healing from the abandonment. PTSD: Post Tea Shortage Disorder.
Now, I realize that coffee drinkers are the priority at Starbucks but to cut us off cold turkey? To cast us aside as if we didn’t matter only to add insult to injury with PINEAPPLE tea? Starbucks clearly hates tea drinkers.
I searched for information online and found nothing about how or why Starbucks would callously turn its back on us. The only thing I found was an article about a company plan to launch tea salons, where they serve tea. No coffee. Just tea. Under the guise of fancy tea drinking, we’d be alienated from our coffee drinking friends and family. Segregated. Other-ed from the java-loving majority, the javajority. Separate but equal, Starbucks? I think not.
Am I to be oppressed for my hot beverage preferences. Isn’t it enough that I have to live in a misogynist, anti-Semitic, gay-hating world? Et tu, Starbucks? Et tea?