I encountered a misunderstanding today due to my poor Chinese language skill. What could I have done better?
I was standing in a German hospital and a native Chinese asked me if I wanted tea or coffee - both being offered by a third party, namely the hospital nurse, coming with a tray. I opted for coffee. She expressed the assumption that I didn't like drinking tea, so I felt forced to clarify what politeness would otherwise have kept me from saying. Tea (mostly Chinese tea) is very important for my family and I delight in its preparation. I wanted to make clear that I can drink mediocre coffee but not mediocre tea. I used Chinese, to avoid the hospital people understanding the criticism of the tea. I said
But she understood the exact opposite of what I meant. Only after saying:
did I manage to convey my message. What were my mistakes?