Mini Story: The Adventures of Trying to Drink Tea in Spain

The Spanish love their coffee. Every morning on our tour when we go down to breakfast there is a pot of hot coffee and another one of hot milk on our table. It doesn’t matter that we didn’t ask for it. It doesn’t matter that we never drink it – the coffee is always there, waiting for us.

I’ve looked for tea. I don’t understand how there can be so much food for the breakfast buffet but there is never an urn of hot water. I have found tea bags, but no urn. There is a coffee machine. I could have all sorts of Nespresso, complimented with George Clooney’s picture, but if I want hot water it seems to come through like a coffee percolator. Trickling, teasing, and taking as long as possible. First thing in the morning, it is enough to test all limits of my mind, body and spirit.

I’ve asked for tea. If they can make a pot of coffee, surely they have some super boiler in the kitchen that could provide a pot of tea? I’ve found that nine times out of ten, the waiter will nod curtly, or smile, or maybe just look at me and it all gives the impression that they have understood my simple request, albeit in English, before wandering off. I wait patiently, then not so patiently, and then I see the same waiter milling about topping up fruit bowls that don’t need to be topped up. Then I sigh and go back to the coffee percolator.

I have learnt that unless the waiter gives a reply in English, then they will just ignore me. Even if they can’t understand English, couldn’t they have just sent a waiter that could? This is an indulgent first world problem, I know, but without my cup of tea I can’t handle anything in the morning. In fact, I can confidently say that without my morning cuppa I become truly detrimental to society.

One of the last hotels we’ve stayed in, there was an urn of hot water. But because we were part of a tour, they seated the whole group away from buffet, up the stairs and around the corner. I was so happy to be able to drink as much tea as easily as I pleased. Ignoring the conveniently placed pots of coffee on the table, I went down to get my cuppa, but found there were no cups next to the urn. I had to go back up the stairs, around the corner to the set table to get my teacup which was, as always, much too small. Then back down again to the urn to fill up a meagre cup, which I’ve drunk by the time I get back to the table.

It’s not that the Spanish don’t have tea. It just doesn’t seem to occur to them, despite tourism being a major industry here, that tea drinkers are a numerous and cranky lot when they don’t get their tea. Of course, everything would be easier if they just bit the bullet and added simple tea & coffee making facilities in the room, just like we have as standard across Australia and is even becoming reasonably common in other parts of Europe (indeed, my friends! We are slowly winning the battle!). A little kettle and a handful of teabags is all we ask. Por favor. Please.

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