How to Spot a Tea Drinker vs. a Coffee Drinker

January 22, 2017

There is an age-old distinction between the drinkers of the two most universally consumed morning cups (and for some, all day cups). Tea, with its rich history in China, Japan, India, and later on, Britain, harkens images of fine silverware, flowing table cloths, and delicately lifted pinkies. It has associations with high society, but is also deeply ingrained in the daily rituals of the general populace.

Coffee, the everyman’s drink, is the fuel of modern society. It too has rich cultural significance in places like Italy and Brazil, but has never had the same frilly associations as tea. It is a drink not associated with weak of heart or constitution, invoking images of busybodies on-the-go. A sling bag and stainless steel mug; pens and highlighters askew; stacks upon stacks of paper, often stained with coffee rings.

Though these images may be antiquated and stereotypical, it does make a fun commuter game to try out during Manila’s increasingly horrendous rush-hour. Want to play? Let’s identify what we think tea drinkers and coffee drinkers look like today:


The tea drinker can be spotted, for whatever reason, languidly strolling through a park in the middle of a weekday afternoon. Perhaps it is to journal, read, think, or just “live in the moment.” Or better yet, in our crowded metropolis: they can be spotted pausing in the middle of the sidewalk to watch seedlings push through the cracks in the pavement, and greet the glorious day with its outstretched pair of green leaves. They probably picked up this strolling habit when they began practicing the art of zen (they can send you link about it—it changed their life).

Headspace is the first app they open in the morning, for when they need to clear their heads before their daily yoga practice. When they don’t have time to hit the studio, they’ll catch up on their exercise by taking the long route to work on their foldie (that’s folding bike, for you non-tea heads). They love the way that biking makes them feel connected with their surrounding environment, even if they have to wear a face mask to survive the smog. But at least they found that great reusable one online!

Another deadline? Let’s assess the task at hand over a fresh cup of tea—I brought my own diffuser and tea leaves to reduce my carbon footprint.

Dressed in their most comfortable harem pants, tea drinkers have a cool and casual approach to everything in life, including the way they dress. If yellow makes them happy, toss on your sunshine shoes. Who cares if it looks a little Mickey Mouse-y, because, well, why waste energy on what other people think? They’d rather use that energy calligraphing their favorite Beatles quote onto the cover of their line-free notebook, or designing their next tattoo. They go with the flow, but are still thoughtful in their choices. Think more slow-mo than YOLO.

The tea drinker is probably your most honest friend, who tells you as it is with no agenda, and gives you the most uninhibited hugs. They memorize at least one poem (alright, at least a line from it) that they keep in their back pocket as a mantra, and are full of earthly wisdom like “When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed,” or “Peace begins with a smile.”


Often in a rush, or seen taking deep breaths and reminding themselves to stop rushing, the coffee drinker lives fast-paced. Maybe it’s because they have a habit of putting things off until the last minute, or maybe they can’t say no to new projects and end up burying themselves in more than they can chew. Maybe a little of both.

They have a habit of arriving late, with their optimism getting the better of them every time, and their need to perfect their work until the last minute working against them. They live to work and work to live. If they are not busy being busy, they are bothered by a nagging feeling like there is something that needs to be done. Like, right now. What is it? Did I forget something important? This is going to bother me for the rest of the day.

If you accidentally bump into me, I may  let out a high-pitched 20-second wail, but don’t take it personally. It’s just the effects of 7 cups of coffee.

They keep their body a little tighter than the tea drinker: ready for anything to come their way. Sometimes this translates to the way they communicate. They’ve read a bunch of books by the likes of Tim Ferriss or the Heath Brothers, so you may see them practicing their communication skills by the water cooler. Sometimes this tightness translates to their clothes. You are more likely to see them in something practical like straight-cut pants than a flowey skirt (It’s really more efficient for walking), and each piece they wear communicates something. A blazer says I’m professional. Running shoes say I’m practical. Sunnies say I can’t be bothered right now.

They are the doers of society. The maximizers. Often, coffee drinkers are the ones pushing for that Baguio trip you’ve been putting off (Please respond to the Facebook invite, by the way), nights out (I’ll buy a bottle for the table! Sige na!), or even just the next restaurant excursion (I know Omakase is closer but I haven’t tried Ooma yet and it’s gotten good reviews). Without them, you wouldn’t have someone to send you new podcast recommendations or talk about the latest TV shows with.

Now let’s play! Spot your fellow commuters on the train, bus, street, even the lobby of your office. Pick a team and see who can count the most drinkers of coffee or tea.

What kind of drinker are you? What traits did we get all wrong? What did we miss? We’d love to hear about your thoughts on this piece in the comments below.

Bea Osmeña SEE AUTHOR Bea Osmeña

Bea Osmeña is a healthy-ish eater who is just as likely to take you to a vegan joint as she is to consume a whole cheese pie to herself. A former picky eater, Bea has discovered the joys of savory fruit dishes, but still refuses to accept pineapples on her pizza. On the rare occasion you catch her without food in her mouth, you are likely to find her looking at books she can't afford, hugging trees, or talking to strange animals on the street.

2 comments in this post SHOW

2 responses to “How to Spot a Tea Drinker vs. a Coffee Drinker”

  1. Nope says:

    THAT was supposed to be funny/witty? MEH.

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