Saturday, March 03, 2012

In Which We Brew Heaps of Tea for the Thirsty Masses

Our church hosts a lady's tea every now and then. Since they spend so much of their time cooking and preparing things for the men in their lives, it was determined that the guys should assume the role of waiters.

Two quick things: ladies, you certainly drink a lot of tea! And guys, we're not very good at this whole waiter thing, are we?

I was tasked with overseeing the tea brewing process and making sure that things went smoothly back there in the kitchen. This sounded pretty easy to me. Little did I know... In hindsight, I should have at least taken 5-10 minutes to come up with a strategy, but instead I decided to just show up and wing it.

Here's how it all went down.

I got there 30 minutes before everything was supposed to start, and quickly got debriefed on the situation.

There were 10 tables, each of which seated about 8 people. Each table had 2 – sometimes 3 – teapots. There were 8 waiters, excluding myself, so that meant that two of the guys needed to handle two tables and the rest could serve just one each. So far so good.

There were 6 different varieties of teas, 4 black and 4 herbals, which presented the first difficulty. How were some of the less initiated tea-totaller waiters supposed to remember names like "Black Currant" or "English Breakfast"? They needed tea lists to refer to. Done.

Now here's where it got difficult. Each table had two teapots, remember? Those two teapots had to stay with the table they came from because they were brought by folks who specifically wanted to use their teapots. No mixups allowed.

What would happen when those teapots made their way back to the kitchen and I began taking orders? How was I supposed to know who brought in which pot and which tea(s) their table had requested? I tried to solve this by writing the names of the waiters on a sheet of paper and telling them to jot down their order under their name so I could tell who needed what. That idea quickly disintegrated. I couldn't keep track of what had been brewed and what hadn't. Did Seth get his Earl Gray? Was it Gabe or Ethan who needed the Lemon Ginger?

On top of that, we were brewing loose leaf tea, which meant that we didn't have those handy little labels to identify which tea was which – they all looked exactly the same! I decided to write out labels for each variety and, when each pot was beginning to brew, place them next to the label for the tea they contained. That sort of worked...

To further complicate things, most teas need to be brewed for a specific length of time or they'll become bitter, so I had to try to keep track of how long each pot had been brewing. No easy task. Through it all I was dreaming of an iPad/iPhone app that would help us manage all the details. Surely someone has programmed something like that...

It was a fun, albeit slightly stressful, time. Guys you did a great job! Sure, we're not naturally adept at this kind of thing but it's good to get out there and help the ladies have a nice time. Next time, though, I think we'll need some new strategies!


Jonathan Berkompas said...

Well despite the craziness, you guys did a great job! No one spilled soup on anyone's grandma this year and the tea showed up not only tasting good, but actually hot! ;-) And really, the tea tasted amazing. Must have been brewed by a master... ;-)


AndraLea Rose said...

Honestly, there were no tea issues at our table (I was at the same one as Chels). Everything we ordered came back timely, fresh, and hot. I didn't realize all that went into it, but thanks a ton for making it happen. You guys did great!