03 September, 2007

Café Culture

Many years ago, twenty-five to be precise, I moved to Germany on a whim. I brought along two pieces of luggage and a lot of nerve.

A good friend of mine (who I met way back when, during my life as a ballet dancer) worked as a dancer in a state theatre in southern Germany. I visited her from time to time, and I thought it might be fun to live here.

Even though I visited my friend six or seven times, I didn’t really know all that much about life in Germany. I learnt more about what a crazy wonderful world the theatre is. I was wearing rosy-tinted glasses during those visits, which made everything and everyone… rosy. The little information I gathered was of no use helping me meet the day-to-day challenges working as an engineer in a large corporation.
Still, one pleasant aspect of living in Germany that I discovered early on, the café culture, was and is a constant source of joy. In every place I lived, there’s been one or two delightful café to while away the afternoons in. Currently, I am living in a café Mecca. There are over two-dozen cafés or bistros in a four-block radius of our apartment. Heaven!

The true test of a café is not necessarily their coffee, but their tea. Do they use loose tealeaves or teabags? Is their water filtered? Do they heat up the pot before poring in the water? Do they use teacups or just serve tea is the same cups as coffee? Do they pore the water over the tealeaves or dunk the tea in afterwards?

To non-tea drinkers, this may sound very silly, but it’s not. A good cup of tea is part ingredients and part ceremony.


  1. I am more of a coffee than a tea drinker, but I agree that the ceremonies around tea are soothing and pleasant. I love the way my mother and aunt do a tea tray - not just a teabag in a mug - all nicely laid out with their best china. It does make the whole experience rather lovely.

  2. Ah tea. You're lucky to live in a part of Germany where there is such a things as tea culture. Here, more often than not, you get water from the espresso machine and a tea bag. You then may plunk it in your cup yourself.

    But cafés are nice nonetheless. It's a pity that there isn't one near me. But then I can have marvelous tea at home.