Tea is the most popular beverage on the planet.
But not in the U.S. where it’s way down the list behind soda, coffee, beer, and milk.
Industry experts still point to the Boston Tea Party to explain this cultural divide. While it’s true that prior to that long ago rebellion we drank more tea, maybe we are simply a nation of coffee-drinkers by character and choice.
These are two drinks with a lot of similarities—both hot, caffeinated, and soothing—but two very different cultural identities:
Tea is mild and genteel, evocative of bone china and extended pinkies. It’s white gloves, ladies’ lunches, and fussy rituals.
Coffee is fast-paced and tough-minded. It’s hard work and hard luck, lonesome highways and Hopper’s desolate nighthawks.
A pair of behaviorists and a neurologist drill even deeper. They say that your caffeine fix of choice reveals your psyche and temperament. They’ve dissected the different personalities associated with different coffee drinks.
Black coffee /espresso drinkers are not the easiest of personalities. They can be moody, minimalist, and direct, and they don’t appreciate frills or sugar-coating.
Cappuccino drinkers are passionate and warm but easily bored. They are big thinkers who often flake on the details, are optimistic, and enjoy their creature comforts.
Latte lovers can have a childlike side—maybe a fondness for fuzzy toys or a propensity for baby talk. They are generous in relationships, spend time pondering life’s big questions, and have a hard time making decisions.
Mocha drinkers love to be in love but hate to make commitments. They are insightful and compassionate to those around them, but are short on reliability.
Frappucino drinkers like to mix things up. They seek trendy experiences, big adventures, and never turn down a challenge. They are socially successful, but do best in life when there’s a partner to keep impulses in check.
According to the research, instant coffee drinkers, if there are any of these still around, are straight-shooters who laugh easily and keep their socks on during sex.
And what are tea drinkers like? You could characterize the entire tea sipping population as patient. For years they waited in lines behind the coffee crowd and their tedious orders, then stood by for the all the hissing and swishing while the barista carved a scale model of the White House atop a foamy concoction. Finally they would get to pay $3.00 for a cup of hot water and a tea bag.
But now it’s their turn. Starbucks has announced the opening of its first tea-only cafe with 80 mix-and-match varieties of loose tea leaves and a full menu of tea-based specialty drinks. The hope of course is to make tea the next coffee.
For now there are 17,000 Starbucks coffee outlets and one Starbucks tea shop.