The other day I walked into a little shop to buy a tub of yoghurt. While I was eating the yoghurt I noticed tea being served to some other customers, nothing very unusual in that given that most small shops are really tea shops with a few other items of food and drink thrown in, but the customers were being served with tea bags! Tea bags?? Good grief.
I looked around and I saw a few other customers, also being served with tea bags. Bemused, I asked the cashier if they had stopped making tea in the traditional way, out of cheapest available tea leaves (or more often tea dust or sweepings) and his answer was that it was easier to cater to customer preferences with tea bags - there would be no complaints that the tea was too weak or too strong, the customer could make it as he desired.
Until fairly recently, tea bags were an unheard of thing in Sri Lanka. I remember being mystified as a child as to how tea could come in a bag. When we eventually did learn as to what a tea bag was, it was still something exotic, bought by foreign buyers, not something consumed in the domestic market. When big hotels and cafe's like the Barista chain started using tea bags it still seemed pretty isolated which is why I was so surprised to see them being used by the common man. I have vivid memories of tea being brewed in wayside kiosks, the vendor pouring the milk tea from one large glass to another, to cool it down. The tea was poured out from a considerable height and would froth like a beer is the glass below.
Reminds of the time when ice-cream tubs were made of cardboard and the spoons were of wood (I think), like the matches made of wood, lunch packets wrapped in plantain leaves (not lamprais, these were just ordinary lunch packets - the plantain leaf being the cheapest thing to wrap them in), Morris Minor taxis, dustmen who used to walk down the lane to collect the dustbins from houses (no dumping garbage onto communal dustbins or leaving them on the road, the dustmen called at each and every house), rickshaws as a mode of transport (I only ever saw children riding in them, though) and haircuts that cost two rupees each, not to mention a time when one and two cent coins had value and were eagerly collected by children. Now beggars throw back anything less than two rupees.
Sigh. I think I'm getting old.