Frustrated professional busts up her office’s outdated “tea squad” tradition with a perfectly salted comeback.

In Japanese business, there’s a term called “ochakumi.” It literally means “tea squad,” and it refers to lower-ranking female office workers being expected to make and serve tea to their male coworkers and company superiors.

Ochakumi isn’t a dedicated catering/food service position, though. Instead, it’s an additional duty passed off to female workers on top of their other professional responsibilities. The practice isn’t nearly as common as it was during Japan’s bubble economy of the 1980s and early 1990s, and many companies have done away with it entirely. Nevertheless, it still persists in some old-fashioned offices, where it’s a major sore point for white-collar women who feel it’s demeaning to be treated like a waitress.

That was the situation Japanese Twitter user @caron_M01 found herself in, until she shattered her office’s “women do the ochakumi work” tradition with a single stinging retort.

When the topic of ochakumi came up, one of @caron_M01’s male officemates proclaimed “Tea just tastes better when a girl pours it for you, you know.” @caron_M01 then switched the tone of the conversation from smug to snide, saying:

“Ahhh, I see. It’s just like how yakiniku [Korean barbecue] tastes better when a guy pays for it.”

Her turning of the tables was roundly applauded on Twitter, with comments including:

“So cool!!!”
“That guy should know what kind of tea he likes better than anyone else, so it stands to reason that he’d get the ‘best-tasting’ tea by making it himself.”
“You ought to put poison in that jerk’s tea.”

However, there’s now no need for @caron_M01 to slip any harmful substances into her coworker’s drink. After she shined the harsh light on the inequality in her office’s corporate culture, a new policy was instituted, and it’s now the shared responsibility of all junior employees, both men and women, to make tea for their senior officemates.

Granted, as one commenter pointed out, it’d be nicer still if everyone in the office pitched in, but still, progress is progress. However, it’s often true that you can’t gain something without giving up something else, and yet another Twitter user lamented that because of the new ochakumi policy in @caron_M01’s office, she may have lost the opportunity to use her tea duties as pressure to have someone treat her to yakiniku, but we think she’s happier paying for her own dinners if she doesn’t have to worry about every man’s tea.

Source: Twitter/@caron_M01 via Hachima Kiko
Top image: Pakutaso

Follow Casey on Twitter, and he’ll be happy to make you a cup of tea if you ever come by his office.