(Wikipedia image)

(Wikipedia image)

If you’re expecting anything serious…or historically accurate…or even decisive, best to move along. This is strictly tongue-in-cheek. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

The “Green Light” Given for Starting Construction on Knossos Palace (2000 BC)

Okay, so they didn’t have tea in Crete yet…or did they? How do you make such a decision without tea? I mean, having seen this palace and how big those stones are, I’m convinced that you’d have to be pretty firm in your commitment to the project. I don’t know about you, but I would need several strong pots of hot tea while mulling over something like this. One thing is for sure – the design was great, keeping out the soaring heat of the day and even having indoor plumbing. No running to the well to fill the tea kettle.

The First Legal Code Created (circa 1792 BC)

This necessitated the first lawyer. And the first lawyer joke. Hammurabi of Babylon, conqueror and empire builder, united all Mesopotamia into one big tea party and set up the biggest law firm in history. Not really, just the legal code, and it was a great period in Babylonian history with plenty of tea. (Sure they had tea. After all, the Chinese were guzzling tea like crazy. Word must have gotten to Hammurabi via a selfie posted on the Chinese emperor’s Facebook page or Twitter account maybe. Or a text message. Something!)

Trojan War Launched (circa 1180 BC)

Too many history books say that this war started over the ravishingly beautiful Helen of Troy. Nope. It started over a spilt cup of tea. The Greek commander Agamemnon was in Troy for one of those fancy schmancy state dinners when a clumsy waiter knocked over Agamemnon’s teacup while putting more pats of butter on his bread plate. (In all fairness to the waiter, I’ve served at such banquets and found this butter pat maneuver to be quite tricky.) The matter was further exacerbated by the waiter getting a little jittery and spilling a whole pot of tea on Agamemnon’s tunic. Thus began a lengthy besiegement of Troy by hordes of Greeks united to demand justice for this insulting (and messy) action. Plus the Trojans refused to pay the cleaning bill for that tunic.

Building the Great Wall of China (220–206 BC)

Tea has been around for thousands of years. So has what we now know as the Great Wall of China, with the most famous part having been built in 220-206 BC at the command of Qin Shi Huang, first Emperor of China, along the historical northern borders of China. It was meant to protect the empire from invasions by more hostile groups. The wall we know today was mostly built during the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644 AD). So, how was tea involved? Well, as I heard the story, Qin Shi Huang was waiting for the tea water to reach the “crab eyes” stage (just the right temperature for green tea) and was playing with his Lego® set (okay, so it wasn’t called “Lego” back then) and built a wall. Just then a messenger came running in saying that a horde from the north was heading their way. “Hm…,” thought the emperor, “invading horde…wall of Legos…” Ding! A lightbulb suddenly went off over his head…oh, sorry, the lightbulb hadn’t been invented yet so it was probably a candle being lit…and he told the messenger to get a crew started building that wall right away. Just then the water reached the “crab eyes” stage and, with a major decision having been made, he turned his attention to infusing his tea. From that day on, he was known as the Wall Emperor Who Steeps Tea or some such thing.

Henry VIII Decides to Behead His Second Wife Ann Boleyn (1536)

After a mere 3 years of marriage, Henry said, “Get me out of this marriage.” His loyal minions did. Some say it was so he could marry someone else and beget a son (Ann was only able to have a healthy daughter, Elizabeth I). In reality, it was over tea. Yeah, this was about 70 years before the Dutch brought tea to Europe, but hey, Henry was a very forward-thinking monarch. In fact, I think that’s what the whole disagreement between him and Ann was about. Something like this: Henry: “Ann, tea is going to be the most popular drink in our empire some day.” Ann: “How idiotic.” Henry: “Guards! Off with her head!”

Declaring Our Independence from King George III of Britain (4 July 1776)

Sure, you’ve heard of the Boston Tea Party, but that wasn’t the only involvement of tea in the decision of the original 13 colonies (actually, only 12 since New York abstained from voting) to declare their independence from Britain and especially King George III (aka “The Mad King”). Part of the issue was all that pinky raising the Colonists were required to do when lifting their cups at tea time to drink. Another was those teeny weeny tea sandwiches that were served. Oh, wait, that was in the 1800’s. Well, the pinky thing was enough to fight over. So they did. And now we can sip our tea without raising our pinkies if we so desire.

Sending Men to the Moon (circa 1960)

On 20 July 1969, Americans Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin made one small step for man and one giant leap for tea drinkers. But the decision to send men to the moon came years earlier over a pot of Lapsang Souchong. That smoky taste is very invigorating and stimulates creative thinking. One potful and the guys at NASA were saying, “Monkey schmonkey…let’s send a MAN to the moon!” Wow, now that’s good tea!

The First Blog Is Set Up (late 1990s)

Again, tea stimulated those creative brain cells and had someone thinking, “Gee, I want to post about this tea online…just something short…with photos.” Voilà! The Web log was born. And then that person had some more tea and said, “The name ‘Web log’ is too long. I’ll just call it a ‘blog.’”

Enough history. Time to get back to tea drinking!

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

A great start to a tea leaf's journey to your cup! (stock image)

A great start to a tea leaf’s journey to your cup! (stock image)

by Guest Blogger Sarah Rosalind Roberts

Everyday millions of us drink cups of tea, but how many of you have ever wondered about the journey the tea leaf takes to make it to your mug? This is the story from the tea leaf’s point of view.

Hello – I am Camellia sinensis. It’s early spring and time for me to begin my journey. As one of the top two tea leaves on the plant, I am destined to be made into premium loose black tea. I have been allowed to grow to the perfect height to make harvesting easier to complete. Approached by an expert picker, I am twisted and plucked from the stem by hand and start to fly through the air into the basket on the plucker’s back. I’m left waiting a while until the basket begins to get full, at which point I’m moved to quality control to check that I’m good enough (which of course I am!)

From the moment I was picked, I feel myself start to wilt, which gradually starts enzymatic oxidation, also known as withering. I’m laid out with all the other leaves in the sun which is making me lose a lot of my water content and I’m starting to feel limp as my structure weakens.

Tea leaves ready for packing and shipping. (stock image)

Tea leaves ready for packing and shipping. (stock image)

I’m now being rolled and kneaded, causing me to ooze some of my leaf juices, which will help with the final flavour once I’m brewed. After this I’m left to oxidise in a climate controlled room for almost an hour. If I was going to be a different type of tea, I’d be oxidised for a shorter period of time. To finish me off and seal me at the right oxidation level, I’m being heated gently – it’s actually getting quite warm!

I’m now being shipped across the globe to a tea wholesaler to be sold on to a tea vendor. As a loose tea leaf, I find myself being placed into packaging with many others (it’s pretty dark in here). I find myself on the shelf of the tea vendor ready for someone to buy me. Although I have no idea who’s bought me I know I’m being transported somewhere. Suddenly there is light as the packaging that contains me opens. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, or more precisely, I can see a teaspoon that shovels me into a teapot.

Black tea in the cup (ETS Image)

Black tea in the cup (ETS Image)

The hot water from the kettle hits me like a wave and all the time that went into my preparation makes it worth it for you. I’m being poured into a cup now and being stopped from entering by the strainer.

My journey has come to an end – it’s been one that has taken time and spanned many miles to reach your mug. I hope you can appreciate the lengths I’ve been through to give you the perfect cuppa when you need it most.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

Anime (pronounced Aa-nih-MAY) is a stylized form of animation closely related to manga. English dictionaries define the term as referring to a special Japanese style of motion-picture animation. Many Westerners view anime strictly as an animation product from Japan, but as long as the animation is stylized, it can be from other countries, too. The style dates back to around 1917 and can be either hand- or computer-drawn. It’s certainly an influence on tea drinkers, who can find themselves “going anime” at tea time without even realizing it. That’s where I come in to point out the signs so you can tell how far along your transformation has gone.

1 Facial Expression Morphage

You find yourself using one of the anime-related manga (still comics) stylized facial expressions to tell your host/hostess about how you are enjoying your tea. Hopefully, you’ll be using the enthusiastic and happy expressions most!

Hosts, know these expressions so you can tell how your anime tea time is going! (found on Yahoo! Images)

Hosts, know these expressions so you can tell how your anime tea time is going! (found on Yahoo! Images)

2 Tea Preference Changes

Since anime is so closely associated by Westerners with Japan, you may find yourself going for some of the many Japanese teas available (so many that I had to split my write-up of them into part 1, part 2, and part 3 awhile ago on this blog). A fave for many is Sencha Kyoto Cherry Rose Festival Green Tea (loose and bagged). Straight Sencha is also good, and Gyokuro is one that is more top-rated. Hubby and I love the roasty quality of Genmaicha. Plus, there’s matcha which to be enjoyed at it’s best needs a very Japanese approach to its preparation, leading us to item 3 below.

The fine powder of matcha is pretty unique in tea. (ETS Image)

The fine powder of matcha is pretty unique in tea. (ETS Image)

3 Preparation and Presentation Alteration

Since anime is more about realistic settings and interesting camera effects such as panning, zooming, and angle shots, versus more realistic movement of the characters (something that Disney and other modern animators have perfected), you may find yourself moving stiffly but focusing on movements that mimic that panning, zooming, etc. Sudden movements, though, while passing full cups of tea or pouring the tea can be a bit messy. So proceed with caution. Your general tea preparation will involve such things as a cast iron teapot (tetsubin) or a kyusu (generally, a teapot but most often used to refer to a teapot used in Japan and other Asian countries where the handle is on the side, that is, 90° from the spout – more info here). If you’re going the matcha route, a chasen, a chawan, a matcha caddy, and a matcha scoop will be part of your accoutrements.

4 Anime-style Recipes Dominate

Your cooking methods might end up being those pan, zoom, and angle movements that are used in #3 above. I’m not quite sure how your mushroom and tofu miso soup will turn out or how good your sushi making skills will fare (slicing that blowfish is tricky business). You might want to settle for some steamed rice (white or brown), steamed vegetables and seafood, soy sauce, ginger root shavings, and wasabi.

5 Tea Time Attire Adjustments

You can go all traditional Japanese here with a kimono (literally means “clothing”), worn by both men and women but most often for special events like tea ceremonies or by older generations. Or you can dress in a costume designed after some anime character, like the one below (they don’t come cheap, though).

Vocaloid Zatsune Miku Cosplay Asian Anime Costume (screen capture from site)

Vocaloid Zatsune Miku Cosplay Asian Anime Costume (screen capture from site)

Are you there yet? Have you “gone anime”? If so, have a great time. And if not, get a move on and make that transformation complete!

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

What does your tea say about you? (ETS image)

What does your tea say about you? (ETS image)

So what does your tea say about you? A recent article in the British press goes so far as to suggest that “your blend of choice may reveal more about you than you’d expect.” Well, maybe it does and maybe it doesn’t. Let’s take a closer look.

The esteemed writer of the piece starts by claiming that there is “a hint of superiority about Earl Grey drinkers” and that Lapsang Souchong is “drunk by the most pretentious of people.” I can’t vouch for either since I don’t know anyone who drinks Earl Grey or Lapsang Souchong.

I’m also assuming that because the writer is British the tea drinkers he’s psycho-analyzing are his fellow citizens. I don’t know enough about British tea drinkers to be entitled to an opinion. But I will agree with the writer when he says that the pinewood-flavored Lapsang Souchong “is a violent insult to the tastebuds.” I’d say the same for Earl Grey but, as always, we all like what we like.

I have to quibble with the good scribe, however, when he says that “loose leaf is for fogeys young and old.” Not to be too snotty about it but I’d amend this to say that loose leaf is actually for those who prefer tea of good quality that tastes good. I’m not saying you can’t find good tea in a tea bag, but loose leaf tea does have a purpose.

I also take exception to the writer’s thoughts on green tea – “Its biggest fans are those who believe in antigravity aerial yoga, super berries and harbour suspicions about clingfilm.” I’m primarily a black tea guy myself, but I’m always up for a good green now and then. As for his assertion that the latter tastes like “diluted stewed sandals,” he’s probably right – but that’s assuming he didn’t take the time to find a decent green tea (preferably that stodgy loose leaf kind) and prepare it properly.

Aside from that, there’s a brief section on lovers of the British brand, Yorkshire Tea (“old fusspots”) and that’s about it. No word on what us black tea lovers are all about, but I’m sure the writer meant to say that we are charming and erudite and all those sorts of things.

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

In the tea world fads come and go. And tea trends are everywhere. Green tea diet pills. Pu-erh miracle elixirs (as shown in this article on our blog). Teas of all kinds being called “artisan” (a key buzzword recently). Now it seems to be “wild” tea. What is it and is it superior to cultivated tea? Time to take a closer look.

Supposed “wild” tea trees. (From Yahoo! Images)

Supposed “wild” tea trees. (From Yahoo! Images)

What Is “Wild” Tea?

I broached this topic awhile back in this article on our blog, but am summarizing in this article and adding some further clarification, considering some of the confusing and downright nonsensical definitions out there. I also want to exclude a plant known as “scorpion bush” or “wild tea” from this discussion. Ditto for those other plants available in the wild and being mislabeled as “tea” (true tea is made from leaves of the tea plant family Camellia sinensis).

Wild means just that – wild. As in uncultivated. The plant grows as it can according to the climate conditions. What wild is not: “single estate” (this term can be used equally for commercially grown tea, unlike a well-known “wild” tea site claims). The wild plants are just there. No estate involved. It is contradictory to call a location an estate if the teas are not being cultivated. For those who are real sticklers, I should add that technically someone climbing into the tea plant (which is more like a tree when it is let grow uncultivated) and plucking off the new leaves is a way of cultivating. You could say, therefore, that there is really no such thing as “wild” tea. There is just untended and tended tea. The untended tea plant is not watered, de-weeded (yes, getting weeds away from the tea plants is a good thing – they soak up moisture and attract insects, molds, fungus, and other diseases), and de-bugged (as in insects, not spy devices). The tended tea plant has these things done (the weeding and de-bugging can be done normally or “organically” as in without the aid of man-made products). So, which is better?

“Wild” Tea vs. Cultivated Tea

The difference here can be like strawberries foraged in the wild versus those grown commercially and available in the produce section of your local grocery market. Your personal taste comes to play, too. I have tasted both types of strawberries (back when I could eat them without swelling up like a dirigible). The truly wild ones are tiny, very deep red, and very sweet – wonderful! The commercially grown ones are much larger and paler and not nearly as sweet – in fact, they tend to be a bit tart if picked too soon. They were grown for their size in response to market demand.

As for teas, larger leaves or smaller leaves or more natural sugars or other qualities have been bred into the various cultivars of Camellia sinensis from which our store teas are made. These are partly in response to the market (you, the consumer) demands and partly by the grower wanting to offer something different so you’ll buy his tea or just as his/her own idea of what might be good. The “wild” (untended) tea will have whatever flavor characteristics are in the plant (bush or tree) they are from. Often, the leaves are kept separate per plant type. Dancongs are a good example where they are a particular type of the Shui Xian tea plant. They are kept separate per plant type and thus retain their flavor and aroma profiles (based mostly on floral aromas occurring naturally in the leaves and/or brought out during processing). These aren’t really “wild” since the plants are carefully tended, but they are “wild” by one vendor’s definition since they are kept sorted by plant. Confused yet? Don’t be. Just be aware that “wild” (like “artisan”) is another of those marketing buzzwords.

Which Is Superior?

So, back to our basic question of which is best. My preference is for those teas that are single estate (true ones, not just those being claimed to be such) and even single flush so I can get the different flavor experiences. But the cultivated teas meet a huge world demand that would otherwise be left wanting. Plus, for many of us, hubby and me included), that tea blended from leaves from various gardens creates a more balanced flavor/aroma experience and gives some predictability. You like what you like. There is, therefore, no absolute superiority. You will need to determine which you like best.

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

When we’re making tea sometimes things can go wrong. Fortunately, the stakes that come with these mishaps are not so high as if we were on an Alaskan fishing boat or a bomb disposal team. But they can be kind of a pain even so. So, without any further ado, here are some of my least favorite tea mishaps. Some of them might look familiar.

The one thing worth crying over!

The one thing worth crying over!

Crying Over Spilt Tea
This one’s not too surprising and its hardly unique to that beverage we call tea. But with tea (as with coffee, I reckon), there’s another dimension to spilling. Not only can you spill the finished tea in liquid form, but you can also scatter a pile of those pesky little loose tea leaves all around the kitchen.

Forget About It
Of the mishaps listed here this the most frequent and probably the most aggravating, because I really only have myself to blame. In fact, the last batch of tea I made as I was starting to write this fell into this category. I drink a lot of black tea and steep it for about two minutes. This is less than most recommendations you’ll see for black tea, but it works for me and I use a timer to make sure I get it right. Which works great – when I remember to push the button to start the timer. Or if, when the timer goes off, I don’t switch it off and go on about my business, proceeding to forget all about the tea.

Malfunction at the Tea Strainer Junction
You might not have encountered this one, unless you use one of those gravity type tea strainers that you sit on top of your cup when you’re finished steeping, which allows the tea to filter out through the bottom and used leaves to stay put.

I haven’t worked out the mechanics of this one but my theory is that sometimes a stray tea leaf gets stuck in the mechanism. So while the tea is steeping it is also leaking out the bottom of the strainer. If you’re lucky it leaks at a slow rate and you notice it before any harm is done. Other scenarios don’t work out quite so well – but that’s why we have mops.

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

From Hugh Jackman to the Beatles to “the Oprah,” famous faces are popping up related to tea. All this to get you to go ga-ga (or should I say “go Lady Gaga”?) over their tea and rush out to buy some (and inspire various tea accessories like these Beatles-themed ones). Good or bad, it seems to work, at least for awhile…until the next celebrity tea endorsement comes along. So here I present my good and bad reasons for these endorsements (and why you might want to ignore these endorsements).

Celebrity endorsements are common worldwide. (Screen capture from site)

Celebrity endorsements are common worldwide. (Screen capture from site)

3 Good Reasons

There must be something good in this marketing practice, because companies keep doing it over and over. So I put on my thinking cap and also did some online searching. Here are the results:

  1. Gets a big splash of attention from customers.
  2. That big splash very often results in a spike in sales.
  3. The association of the brand with the celebrity continues in people’s minds for awhile past that initial big splash.

3 Bad Reasons

After awhile, I tend to go “ho-hum” when the latest celebrity tea endorsement is announced, such as the one a large coffee shop chain (that is now getting into tea big time) recently ballyhooed. But there are other bad reasons besides customer ennui. Here are the ones I came up with:

  1. Implies that we should all drink the tea the celebrity is endorsing, with little or no information given about the actual quality and value of the tea product.
  2. Encourages “celebrity worship” where we base our life choices on what these famous people like instead of on what we like.
  3. The association of the brand with the celebrity continues in people’s minds for awhile past that initial big splash. (Yeah, this one can be both good and bad. If a celebrity like Lindsey Lohan is pictured with a bottle of ready-made tea in hand and has clearly been partying all night, that image will be linked with the tea.)

Feel free to add your own good or bad reasons for celebrity tea endorsements. Love ’em or hate ’em, I’m pretty sure they’re not going away any time soon.

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Striking fear in the hearts of many this is a dish that is often left for restaurants to prepare. There is no need to fear this dish has been unfairly accused. This simple recipe with its easy tips will make what seems to be a daunting dish quite manageable.

Recipe for Tea Eggs Benedict (photo by Janet Sanchez, all rights reserved)

Recipe for Tea Eggs Benedict (photo by Janet Sanchez, all rights reserved)

4 cups water
1 tbsp Dragonwell green tea (choose a mild green tea with a light colored liquid)
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
8 eggs
4 eggs yolks
¼ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup melted butter
2-4 tsp green tea
4 English muffins split and toasted (8 crumpets toasted)
12 sliced of bacon cut in half and cooked through

Heat the water to 170° then steep the tea for about 4 minutes, remove tea leaves. Once tea is ready reserve 2 tablespoons in a separate dish and bring the rest to a simmer. In a bowl that fits on top of the pot used for the tea, place the egg yolks and ¼ cup lemon juice. Blend vigorously with a whisk or an electric mixer until the mixture is emulsified and light in color. Bring the tea water back to a simmer and place the bowl with the egg emulsion on top. Make sure no part of the bowl is actually touching the tea water.

Whisk over the heat for about 1-2 minutes then slowly drizzle in the melted butter. Think of adding the butter the same way you would add oil to vinaigrette, simply pour and whisk at the same time. Keep whisking until the mixture is a consistency similar to pudding, remove from heat.

Bring the tea water to a boil; add in the 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Poach the eggs in the tea water for 1-2 minutes or until the whites are cooked and the yolks are runny or desired doneness. [Tip for poaching: crack the egg into a measuring cup; bring the cup tilted on one side into the water and roll the egg white over itself as you finish pouring it in.] At first it will look very disjointed and messy, but give it a minute and you will see it come together.

Once all the eggs are poached, the muffins are toasted, bacon is crispy, and the hollandaise sauce is ready, you can assemble. Place both halves on the English muffin on a plate. On each half place 3 half slices of bacon and then a poached egg.

By now the hollandaise sauce will be a bit thick, so to thin it you will use the reserved tea. whisk in enough to get the desired consistency. Using a spoon pour the sauce over the top of each egg. Garnish with chopped herbs.

Recipe serves 4 people.

See more of Janet Sanchez’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Tea time has gone nuts around here. The usual tea time treats such as scones with clotted cream and raspberry preserves have been replaced, at least temporarily, with nuts! Maybe it’s that whiff of Spring in the air. Maybe it’s those cute little stuffed bunnies next to the pink and white mug. Or maybe that Scottish Breakfast tea has just decided for a change of pace. Whatever the reason, tea time will never be the same (until we run out of nuts, that is).

Nutty tea party! (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Nutty tea party! (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

The nuts in question are from that Victoriana nut lady previously mentioned on this blog. The mix is called “Sweet Hickory” and consists of almonds, cashews, and pecans that have been steamed (not roasted) and then coated with sugar and smoky hickory flavoring. Very reminiscent of those nut vendors I encountered in Germany years ago. The coating was a great balance, not too sweet and not too smoky. And the nut flavors were coming through loud and clear. The question was which tea to serve with them. Not all teas are sufficiently robust in their flavor profile nor as able to “play nice” with other tea flavors as some teas are. After trying some oolongs, green teas, Darjeelings, and even some black teas, the clear winner was one that we have come to regard as a staple in our tea pantry: Scottish Breakfast.

For us, the best way to serve this tea is what many refer to as “British style.” We steep it strong for at least 5 minutes (we have been known to let it steep longer) and add milk and sweetener (sugar is the tradition here, but we switched years ago due to health concerns since we drink so much tea every day). One of the great things about this tea is how the flavors of both the Assam and Keemun black teas blend their unique flavor profiles in the cup. That made us sure this tea would also coordinate well with the flavors in this nut mix. One mouthful and we were sure we’d made a good choice. Two mouthfuls had us oohing and aahing with sheer delight. By the end of the nuts (no, we didn’t eat the whole 8-ounce bagful) and the pot of tea, we were completely content and ready to tackle whatever challenges the rest of the day might hold.

Mix it up at your next tea time with some nuts, fruits, veggies, or other non-traditional tea time treats. You’ll have an experience to remember for sure, good or bad. Enjoy!

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

It’s been a while since I’ve been a student, so I don’t know what the curricula is like these days. But there was a time when anyone who had passed from the hallowed halls of elementary school had a fairly thorough grounding in that famous incident in American history – the Boston Tea Party. You know the story, of course. Colonists dress as what we used to call Indians and storm ships in Boston Harbor, dumping tea into the drink as a protest against unfair taxation and whatnot.

Black teas too good to throw overboard! (ETS image)

Black teas too good to throw overboard! (ETS image)

Or so the story goes. Of course, the popular and commonly accepted versions of history are not always one and the same (George Washington and the cherry tree, anyone?) and apparently that’s the case with the Boston Tea Party. Here are a few of the alleged myths that might need some debunking.

Author Ray Raphael has written a book that claims to debunk various myths about the founding of the United States. He takes on some Boston Tea Party myths here. For starters, he asserts that not all colonists celebrated the event and many actually viewed the dumping of the tea as an unsavory act of vandalism that might hurt their cause. No thoughts on what was made of the wastefulness of 340 chests of tea being dumped into the harbor, but speaking as a modern-day tea drinker I always find that aspect a bit unsettling.

Another myth that most people probably aren’t aware of is that tea taxes had actually been reduced around this time. So the rebellion was not about high taxes but rather the fact that colonists didn’t have any say in taxes that were levied on them. As the author notes, land taxes as well as those on the likes of sugar, molasses, and wine were much more significant. Taxes on tea were comparatively modest, and even if they hadn’t been, there was a brisk smuggling trade for anyone who was out for a bargain.

Some time ago I wrote about the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum. Which is pretty much what the name suggests. But since this site is devoted to tea I wanted to reiterate, as I mentioned in that article, which types of tea were tossed in the harbor on that fateful day a few centuries ago, “the three tea ships contained 240 chests of Bohea, 15 of Congou, 10 of Souchong (all black teas), 60 of Singlo, and 15 of Hyson (both green teas).”

At the attraction’s very own web site they take on some Boston Tea Party myths as well. Look here for a video in which “noted Revolutionary War scholar” Professor Benjamin L. Carp attempts to straighten a few misconceptions.

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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