Aus unserer beliebten Reihe: „Fragen, die man mal stellen kann.“ Entdeckt von MARTIN in der Revaler Straße in Friedrichshain.
Brunch’s been getting real good in Berlin. Seriously, unexpectedly good. While a few years ago the poached egg was only found at upscale hotels, no serious morning food venture can write its menu without, today. However, not everyone manages to cook it to perfection (and can we please remember that other treatments also suit that yolk well), but those who poach it right rank high on my list. Here’s a new one, that could also be called big, huge, or even giant, but is actually going by the name Little Joy.
We’re not talking about a restaurant, but a food collective (what a time to be alive) that’s serving its dishes in different venues around the city, and while yes, this makes it a little bit more complicated to find them, it’s actually not that hard thanks to social media. Besides their events, the female food squad also offers catering, workshops (sometimes even in the UK), and they’re the publishers of pretty breakfast zines you can pick up at their events. So much joy!
I was lucky enough to attend their brunch service this past weekend at Bitte Coffee in Kreuzberg, a cute little café that ticks all the boxes of contemporaneity, serving not only speciality coffee to guests seated on raw wooden benches, but also having pop-up cacti-sales plus a selection of Greek baked treats and occasional food feasts.
Little Joy took over their kitchen and served a three course brunch menu, which in itself was enough to get me totally hooked. Starter, main and dessert were carefully coordinated: we started with a serving of their own sourdough bread with two different pickled cabbages, one red and the other white mixed with wild garlic, and then went on to the main. For my friend a Sausage Man chipolata, with wilted spinach and garlic butter, poached eggs and tomato relish on their own brioche, and for me a barley and caramelized onion salad with wild mushrooms, house made creme fraiche, toasted bread crumbs, and a poached egg. When it arrived, my friends stack looked a lot more enticing, however, once I dug into my beige heap I was smitten: the buttery and earthy deliciousness went so well with fresh creme and glugs of fragrant olive oil. And that egg was poached perfection, really.
Little Joy is not only about taste, though, they’re going for zero-waste cooking, responsible sourcing and fostering local relationships – much of their ingredients come from the great land surrounding us, known as Brandenburg.
Dessert was a neat stack of buckwheat pancakes with their own butter, rhubarb, honeycomb and crispy buckwheat. We told ourselves this was actually really healthy food and finished everything before we rolled out of the café with grande joy in our bellies. I will definitely follow their path, and join whatever they’re up to next.
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HA HO HE HERTHA BSC
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Entdeckt von MICHA RICO ROMY in der Linkstraße nahe Tiergarten.
Why is it that so many French chefs are coming to Berlin? And why are they starting out with food trucks? Let’s ask Gabrielle and Henri.
I’m at the dessert market of the Markthalle 9 in Kreuzberg, tasting some ambrosial salted caramel ice cream from Jones. The English-sounding name doesn’t suggest that its owner moved to Berlin from Calais, France. But Gabrielle Jones’s truck hints at her Gallic roots: it’s a Citroen old-timer, painted baby blue with corrugating siding, with a bright side hatch from which she dispenses her delicacies (made without preservatives unlike some of the “I-was-once-powder” concoctions that dominate the 1-EUR Berlin ice cream “Kugel” market).
I would love to undermine the obvious cliché––that French people are a motor bringing gastronomic food culture to Berlin––because I’m not one to play the national game when it comes to cuisine. But with so many excellent ventures––Lamazère Restaurant in Charlottenburg, or Passion Vin wine in Kreuzberg––I start to wonder whether there’s something to it. But Gabrielle adds another ingredient to the salad when I ask her why so many French people are involved in the Berlin foodie scene: “French people don’t just know about good food. They are also professionalised when it comes to gastronomy”. Indeed, it isn’t enough to know how to eat and cook: you need to know how to make it a business.
After having started with her food truck that stopped around Berlin––from Wochenmarkt to the erstwhile Neue Heimat to the Bite Club (next event: 20 May)––Gabrielle this May will finally open her own store in Schoeneberg on Goltzstr. 3. “I am really happy to have a place where I can cook and sell my ice cream in the same place: it’s been complicated keeping ice cream the right temperature in the truck”.
Walking down Mulackstraße, in Mitte, I turn into the new Papier Tigre store. At one end is a coffee shop, where I meet Henri Baudon. He is also known to drive an old Citroen truck around Berlin to dispense his “Garçon de café” coffee, but now has a storefront for the product. Henri likes to dress up. It gives products a visual identity: he wears a bow tie; he has a tailored anti-Hipster look in a city where no one looks quite as clean and pressed as he does. He has the problem of convincing his staff to do the same. “Getting Berliners to wear bowties is hard”, he tells me. But getting them to drink his excellent Arabica coffee is not, which is creamy without shutting out the dark flavour of the bean––I’m not sure how he does it. His croissants are pretty delectable too. Henri part of a local coffee revolution, and his shop with its long communal bench is certainly one of the best places in the city to have an espresso.
Both Gabrielle and Henri came for Berlin because conditions at home in France made it difficult for them, as young people, to be entrepreneurs in gastronomy. Germany also makes it expensive for freelancers––compared to ‘Beamte’ and other employees––to pay social costs, such as health care. And it is more difficult to get good ingredients for ice cream, for example, or to convince people to pay a little more than usual to consume good food in Berlin, than in Paris.
But Berlin’s low cost of living still compensates. That combined with the fact that a food truck is an initially low-risk investment. Add too that Berlin’s breezy streets offer many more parking options than downtown Paris, and you are well on your way to understanding the route––from food truck to shopfront––these French foodies took.
Berlin also has a growing international population that wants to eat as well here as in their home countries. This has given Jones Ice Cream and Garçon de Café their audience, their following. “German tastes are changing as Berlin internationalises and more people come from somewhere else. I’ve seen an incredible change in food culture here”, Gabrielle tells me. Indeed, most of their customers seem to be fellow expat Berliners.
Both Gabrielle and Henri want to stay in Berlin. The tale of their trucks is, in the end, a good news story of small business entrepreneurship working out during a time of economic crisis. But I wonder whether rising prices in Berlin will eventually make things more difficult for them. I ask them what they think of gentrification, and Henri replies that gentrification is good for his business and that coffee prices here are too deflated. “I wouldn’t mind if prices increased”, he tells me, “3.50 EUR would be a fair price for coffee. Even at those prices, we are still not London or Paris”.
I think about how the story of coffee is linked to the story of gentrification. Lattes and cappuccinos are metonymic for neighbourhood change, when we see Spätis serving tarry hot water give way to hipster temples-to-the-bean. We are stuck between our distaste for rising prices, and the recognition that posher tastes bring better products. Don’t some of us want Garçon coffee down the street, but without the often accompanying extremes of social injustice? Those who complain about gentrification are frequently the same ones who are secretly relieved that they can finally stop drinking instant from a paper cup when they step out their front door.
And what risks does success carry for Henri and Gabrielle? Many purveyors, when their product establishes itself, scale down quality because they already have good reviews. Both Gabrielle and Henri, for their parts, tell me that they went into business because they care about good food.
When I leave Garçon de Café, I see Henri standing behind the polished shop window, with his butterfly bowtie, his pressed shirt. He waves at me. He’s obviously done well with his coffee shop––I am delighted he is so successful––but I wonder where his truck is right now. Does he miss it? Does he miss arriving somewhere new in Berlin, parking under the trees? Does he miss the steam rising on a cold day, outside when he foams the milk, as he watches strangers pass, hesitate, then approach his truck?
After all, Henri told me, “Going out with the truck every day is amazing, it means every day is different”.
TBT to when @_huth & @j_ribler.mbh made a big ass Civilist™ chocolate bar for us and we forgot about it so now it looks like this☹️
#clearingoutthebasement #chocolate #civilist #civilistberlin #sorryboys #🍫
Und wir dachten, wir kennen schon alle Gegenstände die in Berlin bislang geklaut wurden. Weit gefehlt. Vermutlich sind die Exponate aber eh bald auf Ebay zu finden. Entdeckt von THERESA auf dem Campus Nord in Mitte.
If you were on the Kreuzberg-Neukölln gay scene two Mays ago, you saw your regular haunts become a film set. Your friends became extras and your soundtrack the music of Peaches, Rummelsnuff and Nina Hagen. They all feature in Desire Will Set You Free, by American-German director Yony Leyser. His new film, recently shot around Berlin, is a love story about a Russian rent boy, and how transitioning affects his relationships.
The Needle was fortunate enough to interview the director in 2014, and now revisits the interview in this post––as the film will have its Berlin premiere on 2 May in Kino International before general German cinema release.
Yony Leyser is an outside-insider. Let’s work from the outside in: he came to Berlin only in 2007 as an expat, is concerned with super-trendy themes like gay and trans identity, and comes from the film school culture of Los Angeles. What you expected, right?
But no: Leyser pulls a few surprises that complicate the above narrative.
His arrival to the German capital follows the legacy of his grandparents who were Jews from Pankow, who fled in 1936. His investigation of the queer community, he tells me, eschews the corporate and commercial and tends towards the creative and alternative scene (a film project on Punk Queer is currently in the works). And while, yes, he started at CalArts in Los Angeles, he was kicked out and ended up studying journalism in Kansas. It is not surprising that he is drawn to filmmakers who represent marginal lives––the sometimes arty sometimes trashy creations of Bruce LaBruce, or the negative storytelling of Fassbinder.
This departure from the norm is perhaps best seen in Leyser’s choice to work in Berlin rather than in New York. He calls the great American metropolis ‘one of the worst places on the planet’, where everyone is too busy for creative exchange. Compared to the ‘very mainstream gay culture of New York’, he prefers ‘the much more international queer culture of Berlin’. Leyser elaborates: ‘On a laketrip with some performers, we were talking, and everyone in the car felt like we were part of a real Weimar movement. There was a social artistic movement happening here, and it was an international one like Weimar. We all felt like it was the end cusp of it. And at the end cusp either something tragic happens or it commercialises’. His prediction is that we are moving towards the latter, and that his film captures Queer Berlin as a character at that moment of transition.
Leyser’s own experiences bleed easily into his film work. A little too easily, one might be tempted to say, in that he plays the triple role of screenwriter, director, and main actor. And the film is set in the bars and clubs he himself likes to frequent. Does this mean that Desire Will Set You Free is simply a film all about Yony Leyser? Or is it better described in the great tradition of ‘docufiction’, which includes other self-referential Berlin diarists like Christopher Isherwood (or would it be better to avoid canonical Weimar-era comparisons)? The proof will be in the pudding, as they say.
The mix between fiction and non-fiction is best seen in how Leyser creates his characters. An exciting quantity is the actor, Tim-Fabian Hoffmann, whom Leyser cast from an open call in Berlin, before Hoffmann starred in the controversial MEAT installation at the Schaubühne in 2014. In MEAT, Hoffmann played a dissipated hustler, loitering around a nail salon, concerned about small flaws in his physiognomy. He is now at the Schauspielhaus in Bochum, where he premiered in the one-man show ‘Co-Starring‘ this past December 2015.
In Desire, he remains in the underworld, and plays Sasha, the Russian rent boy lead, a character that, not surprisingly, Leyser actually met. Or rather, the Sasha he met became the composite of three different people, ‘all very similar, trans women living their lives as men, all under 25 years old, all having lived with their mothers beforehand… they all shared a similar experience’. In Desire they all meet Leyser’s character, a bourgeois bohemian intellectual, and they clash.
Composite characters filtered through Leyser’s experience of them reminds me of critics’ reproach of Isherwood’s narcissism: his ‘experience of the encounter’, where real life figures only populate his Berlin stories after they have filtered through aspects of his own personality. This technique is quite a departure from Leyser’s previous documentary work, such as William S. Burroughs–A Man Within. Leyser explains that the move to fiction is a permanent shift, ‘making a fiction film is like being on drugs, it’s really addictive. It feels like you are working as a surgeon in the Emergency Room… I imagine working on a fiction set is similar’.
The locations, meanwhile, are all real spaces scattered around the alternative scene of Berlin: Supamolly, Bethanien, Roses, Möbel Olfe, Ficken 3000. But Leyser chooses to talk about the industrial space, near Ostkreuz, about.blank, the location for the notorious Homopatik parties, when asked for a representative example.
‘They have this outdoor garden, and we made it into a dream garden, the dream of our main character Sasha. He interacts there with a diverse group of mostly nude people living out their sexual fantasies. Nina Hagen was in the scene, playing an oracle, in a trailer giving Tim advice… She is an icon, she is part of the reason I moved to Berlin. My character moved here because of Bowie. But I moved here because of Nina Hagen and Fassbinder’.
A revealing anecdote is that Penny Arcade had to cancel two days before because of pneumonia, and so, remarkably, they found Nina Hagen, a muscular symbol of the East-West Berlin divide, on short notice as a replacement. Leyser is remarkably successful in including very famous personalities in his films. He tells me ‘You just need to approach them’, but I wonder what other tricks he has up his sleeves. The Burroughs film featured interviews by John Waters, David Cronenberg, Iggy Pop and Gus van Sant, just to name a few. And in Desire, Peaches, the sensational Canadian pop singer resident in Berlin, gives a cameo performance. So many names! It’s like I’ve had too much cake!
Leyser explains, ‘Peaches was interviewed for my Queer Punk documentary, and I helped her with some of her filming for Pussy Riot… and we became friends, and she loved the idea of the film, and she sings for the first time in German for the film, in Berlinerisch. There’s a lot of music in the film, which builds up scenes. She plays a cover of a Claire Waldoff song, Hannelore, and she turns it into an electro-rap, changing some of the lyrics… Hannelore, Hannelore… the prettiest kid from Hallesches Tor…’
Leyser and I finish up our discussion in the K-Fetisch café in Neukölln, and I think to myself that he has been rather distracted throughout our whole interview. Finally, I notice what he has been observing. He points up to an upstairs balcony across the street where two veiled women are making tea, and comments, ‘I keep wondering what they are talking about’.
How would he write their story? Their dialogues? Would he make one a lesbian and the other a transsexual? Perhaps they are. Do they need more veneer, less realism, more nail polish? Is Leyser versatile enough with his material to capture a world beyond his own concerns, beyond Berlin’s queer underground, which we discussed at K-Fetisch? Then again, that is not his subject.
And yet, as I look at the two women laughing and drinking, I begin to entertain the idea that if Leyser can conjure up a convincing fictional world on that distant balcony––one that does not serve up a fantasy projection about what we think happens in that separate space, but delivers us a distinct world you can believe in––that we are in for a very exciting ride indeed with his new film.
This preview of Desire Will Set You Free was first published on The Needle in July 2014. The article was revised, in advance of the Berlin premiere, in April 2016.
#tpark #boysofbrunnen #teamcivilist #civilist #civilistberlin (hier: Civilist)
Entdeckt von NICKY im Wäscheraum eines Genossenschaftshauses in der Borussiostraße in Tempelhof.
Im alltäglichen Notes-Dschungel der Hauptstadt kommen Notes zum Thema Autos nicht zu kurz. Falsch parken, Vandalismus, skurrile Verkäufe oder eben auch Umweltsünden. Bei letzterer Sorte von Notes wird den Fahrzeughaltern mal so richtig die Meinung gegeigt, in der Hoffnung, dass sich die Einstellung der jeweiligen ?Stadtpanzer?-Fahrer ändert und sich ein Bewusstsein von Alternativen entwickelt. Audi [...]
Happy Birthday Kalle😘
#employeeofthemonth #twingokalle187 #collinmclean #civilist #civilistberlin #boysofbrunnen #hbd #ripwassertorplatz (hier: Wassertorplatz)
Now up online. 🙇
Spring/Summer 16 collection!
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Sadly, it can be hard to dine out on a Monday night in Berlin. I know that because I’ve tried several times and found many of my favorites to be closed. Of course, there are loads of imbiss-y places that are there for us, but it’s certainly harder to find a nice place to sit down and enjoy table-service. Which is why I made this nifty little guide, researching which restaurants that I liked were actually open. It’s not that many! Here to help:
Closed on a Tuesday, but waiting for you to book a table on Mondays is this favorite Japanese place in Prenzlauer Berg. Read more here.
Serving inventive and classic French fare every day of the week just off U-Bahnhof Eberswalder Straße. Read more here.
Representative for many Chinese food places, this favorite of mine is open every Monday night in Wilmersdorf. Read more here.
One more Frenchie who doesn’t mind to serve Bouillabaise on a Monday in Mitte. Read more here.
An institution on Torstraße, offering their varied three-course-menues prepared by different chefs every night of the week.
Go far West to Kantstraße and enjoy some really spicy Thai dishes at the beginning of the week. Read more here.
Cooking simple and honest dishes with local and seasonal produce for you every day in Mitte’s Linienstraße. Read more here.
If you just wanna have fun on a Monday night, enter this colorfully decorated place on Rosenthaler Straße and have many of their Vietnamese plates. Read more here.
Berlin’s most celebrity-adorned place is grilling the best steaks every day of the week just by the Spree at Friedrichstraße.
You might have to queue some time, but this broth is worth the wait, especially on a Monday night. whether you have it in their Gipsstraßen joint in Mitte, or by the Landwehrkanal in Kreuzberg. Read more here.
Got more Monday-favorites? Let us know in the comments!
Da freuen sich die Berliner Wiesen sicherlich sehr über diesen Aushang aus einem Hausflur in Moabit.
@chocolateskateboards x @civilistberlin
#kebap #chocolateskateboards #chocolatexcivilist #civilist #civilistberlin #tb (hier: Imbiss)
Gibt es einen Gott oder gibt es keinen? Ein Aushang aus Mitte (Unter den Linden) mit einem Klärungsversuch. Eingereicht hat uns das Fundstück unsere Leserin SIMONETTA. Du hast auch eine NOTE entdeckt? Gerne einsenden an: firstname.lastname@example.org
Es geht doch nicht’s über eine Nachbarschaft die für einander sorgt. Entdeckt von OLE in einem Hausflur in der Bossestraße in Friedrichshain.
Available now! Nike SBs Dunk Low Premium SB with raw canvas uppers just in time for 4/20🍁
#nike #nikesb #dunksb #dunklow #hemp #420 #civilist #civilistberlin (hier: Civilist)
Link in bio👯
#palace #palaceskateboards #london #summer16 #drop2 #civilist #civilistberlin (hier: Civilist)
Die Diebe werden immer dreister. Dieser Aushang wurde von DELIA in der Weserstraße in Friedrichshain entdeckt.
Es ist und bleibt ein leidiges Thema: Entdeckt von STEFAN in Friedrichshain.
It’s been getting a lot better, but it’s definitely not there yet – Indian food in Berlin is still a sensitive topic. While we do have some fast food joints and one place serving an updated and modern version of South Indian food, the real deal hast not yet arrived. However, there was a prime opportunity to enjoy the most amazing Indian menu at The Store Kitchen last week, when Kricket came over from London to cook up a feast.
And while you won’t be able to experience the same when you missed out this one, I still need to tell you about it. For once, since you might end up in London and could visit their restaurant at one point, and also to make you follow Johnnie Collins’ and Tommy Tannock’s dinner adventures, since they’ll continue to invite experts in their field from all over the world and are themselves quite excellent dinner makers (see the food they cooked up for this blog’s tenth anniversary, for example).
Now, to the Indian food. If you spent all your life in Berlin and thought that Indian food is basically a variety of cream-heavy, lightly curried dishes, you might learn a thing or two. I’ve never been to India, just had some very good Indian food in London (not on Kricket’s level, though), but I’ve always felt like there was a great potential, considering the spices used in this kitchen.
Kricket is definitely the talk of Brixton, not only but also because the owners, Will Bowlby and Rik Campbell, aren’t Indian at all and still master the cuisine of this unimaginably complex subcontinent. I was amazed, and so were my fellow eaters and basically the whole room. The plates of food came to share – but unlike many other cases, there was plenty for everyone. We started with a Bhel Puri, puffed rice with raw mango, tamarind and yogurt that already took my socks off. The balance of sour and sweet, a little punch of spice, and the creamy yoghurt with the crunchy rice – I would want to eat this literally every day. It went on with razor clams with samphire and brown shrimps for my friends, and a huge serving of deep fried samphire with a spiced mayo for me that I couldn’t help but finish (and didn’t even get to take a picture). Same with the main, for them goose vindaloo (a nod to Brandenburg, former home of the geese), garlic chips and coconut vinegar, served with a smoked sweet potato with labneh, gunpowder and black garlic; and a creamy aubergine curry for me.
The smokiness of the potato was divine, as werde the many levels of flavor in my curry.
It was as if someone turned the taste volume up – the flavors in this food, may it be spices, herbs or veggies, were so much more intense than I expected. And still, they stood on their own, didn’t blend into one indistinguishable mush.
The finale was a salted jaggery treacle tart with delicous milk ice cream and a tiny amount himalayan sea salt flakes. Jaggery – had to google it – is an unrefined cane or palm sugar, and the combo of ultra sweet, slightly salted and heavenly milky flavors was the best anyone could wish for to close a meal. And I haven’t even told you about the incredibly tasty cocktails.
Maybe that’s a bit overly optimistic, but I can’t wait for Berlin to come as far as London and produce restaurants serving food as fine as this. Until then, I’ll be a regular at The Store Kitchen’s take-overs.
Follow The Stores’ Facebook page (as well as this site’s) to be updated. And for news about The Store Kitchen’s dinner services, follow Tommy’s facebook page.
Entdeckt von CHRIS am Hermannplatz in Neukölln.
Heute gratulieren wir unserer Praktikantin Anna zum Geburtstag! Anna ist heute 4x so alt geworden wie Notes of Berlin. Da wir (noch) nicht bekannt sind für unsere Backkünste, hat sie wohlwissend lecker vorgesorgt und uns allen hier in den Schillerstudios ihre Lieblingskuchen gleich mal selbst mitgebracht. Und ihre erste NOTE dazu verfasst! Verzeiht bitte mögliche [...]
Es kann uns allen passieren, jederzeit und überall: Man verliert seinen Geldbeutel und hofft dann anschließend auf einen ehrlichen Finder! Was natürlich immer helfen kann: Finderlohn anbieten! Berliner sind nunmal oft knapp bei Kasse, ergo fällt dann auch der Finderlohn mal etwas niedriger aus. Übrigens: 5 Euro Findelohn… das hatten wir schon einmal. Allerdings handelte [...]
Viele Straßen von Berlin gleichen einem Recylinghof der BSR mit dem kleinen Unterschied, dass sie eben nur Straßen sind. Offiziell zumindest. Kühlschränke, Bücherregale, Bürosessel und Co.: Es gibt fast nichts, was der Berliner nicht auf die Straße stellt. Neu ist uns, dass Matratzen mittlerweile anscheinend einfach nur noch aus dem Fenster geworfen [...]
Although Berlin is quickly becoming a coffee mecca, it remains the capital of bad tea. British World War Two soldiers entering enemy territory were provided with important instructions from the Foreign Office. In the section ‘How the Germans Live’, soldiers were warned that although Germans ‘are quite expert with coffee’, they ‘don’t know how to make tea’. I can imagine Churchill in the War Rooms––his tea service poised on a silver tray alongside a map of troop movements, his cup rattling––mulling over Germany’s descent into barbarous fascism, its rampant militarism, and bad tea-making skills.
Coffee was so unimportant to British wartime strategy that British and Canadian soldiers didn’t even include it in their field rations. A Tea-Milk-Sugar combo followed them to the front while Germans ripped open their kit package of Milchkaffee across the frontlines. You would think that Allied occupation would have a lasting effect on German liquid consumable culture––but I think it’s fair to say that Americanisation (the Yanks, after all, also had coffee in their ration kits) prevented a proper reform of German tea culture.
If you want to get a British expat, or her Commonwealth cousin, properly ranting, then just mention the state of tea in the German capital. Get that person to tell you all the things the locals get wrong.
The problem starts when you choose your tea. In Berlin, you are invariably given the infuriating option of ‘Assam or Darjeeling’. Never mind what grade of Assam you are being offered. Most likely it will be low-grade, made of particles or ‘Dust’. This will be confirmed when your tea is presented in an industrially-produced teabag. It is found floating in a shallow coffee cup, in lukewarm water taken from the espresso machine. Milk has been added right away. In its puddle, the bad tea cannot infuse. Your cup tastes of bleach and paper rather than the plant known as tea. You drink a few sips of cloudy tepid milky-paper water and hate everyone and everything.
In fact, things are so bad in Berlin these days that I carry my own premium leaf tea in my coat pockets, so that when I’m in a local hipster café, I can do a quick switch of the lousy teabag. Some Anglo-expats don’t order tea when out in Berlin––because ‘it’s your own damn fault if you order tea, you know already it will be bad’.
The failure is not simply that bad tea offends my taste-buds and discredits the establishment that prepares it. Bad tea offends on a more spiritual, metaphysical level. My Scottish grandmother, with her Victorian sensibilities, is offended. She loved her grandchildren, and when she sees me sipping tea in Berlin, she rolls in her grave, and she screams.
Compare Berlin tea preparation to my grandmother’s method, my dear friends. One of the peculiarities of growing up in a former British colony—in my case Canada––is that traditions are more tenaciously held and raised to the level of religion, an effect perhaps of living far from the metropole. Crusty Anglos in the ‘Canadas’ employ a nostalgic, quaint, method for brewing tea, which is instantly recognizable worldwide to those acculturated to Imperial tea habits, from Pitcairn to Ceylon.
Yes, Berliners, I’m going to tell you how to make a good cup of tea because––with all due respect––you need a little help: (If you are absolutely sure you know how to make a proper cup of tea, then you can skip to the asterisks below)
A note on flavoured tea: I know many people who think flavored teas are barbarous, and that Earl Grey should be approached like some tropical pestilence needing eradication. I don’t think so: the Russians have shown us just how creative you can be with Bergamot (and citrus). But be a purist if it makes you happy. There are plenty of pure black-tea blends to keep you busy for the rest of your life.
A note on teabags: Does all this mean you should never drink tea from a bag? No, there are tea companies that produce high-quality teabags––properly packaged to preserve flavours, in, say, cloth and Muslin bags (Kusmi does this). But most teabags are horrific, consisting of low-grade ‘Fannings’ (particle), or ‘Dust’-grade tea. You’ll understand what this means if you tear open your normal tea bag after it’s infused. If it’s bad, you won’t see individual or broken tea leaves. Instead you will realize you’ve consumed something that looks (and tastes) like dirt.
Use a large porcelain teapot for black tea, and have your tea ready, in a cloth tea strainer (those metal infusers never did it for me, and I hate anything that tastes of paper). My grandmother always used a spoonful of tea per person and one for the pot.
Now, you might argue that I am unrealistic if I expect this level of complex tea-making to be performed in a Berlin café (it’s called a café, not a tearoom, after all). But I tell you that you are wrong. Coffee culture in the Hauptstadt––all those hipsters carefully sourcing their single-origin beans, weighing them carefully on their scales that double for cocaine, and carefully adjusting the temperature of their ostentatiously expensive espresso machines––indicates that businesses are capable of taking time over the complicated business of hot beverages. And I’m all the more offended when offered a lousy teabag in a cup of tepid water in an establishment that spends time extolling the careful scientific preparation of their coffee blend. A sign of my desperation is that I will be reasonably satisfied by a tall cup made from loose tea, in a sleeve filter, prepared at the right temperature (see photo at top of article). Pure joy is being presented with a proper pot of well prepared fine tea and separate cup. You see, I’m not asking for very much.
Which brings me to my follow-up post. Stay tuned, because I’m going to shame Berlin cafés that make ugly tea. And praise those who are bringing Germany out from the shadows. In the meantime, dear Berliners, next time you are in a café please be very annoying and ask the establishment questions such as: ‘is the tea full-leaf or broken?’ ‘do you serve your tea in a teabag?’, ‘do you serve it in a pot?’, maybe even, ‘You have Assam? Do you have GFBOP Assam?’
But in the end, my embattled cousins, the sad truth these days in Berlin is that the most necessary question is (always, always) to ask for the milk on the side.
New “cb” Caps are coming soon! Plus tons of other goods✍🏻
#civilist #civilistberlin #berlin #summer16 #brunnenstrasse13 (hier: Civilist)