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(stock image)

(stock image)

We’ve written about Tregothnan Estate many times at this site and here’s the proof. It’s noteworthy for the fact that it’s the only significant producer of tea in a place where tea is consumed with great enthusiasm – the United Kingdom. Recently, it was announced, as one of the British papers put it, that “English grown tea will be available for the first time in British supermarkets.” That’s Tregothnan tea, of course, which is also exploring the option of exporting their tea to China, as well as opening their own chain of tea houses.

If “cereal tea” is something you’ve never heard of before, you’re not alone. I was in the same boat until I ran across a few references to it recently. It’s apparently designed for anyone who thinks that cereal saturated milk found at the bottom of a cereal bowl is something like fine cuisine. According to this instructional article it’s prepared like tea, but it apparently doesn’t contain any actual tea – though you could probably throw some into the mix if you were so inclined.

I seem to recall a few previous references I’ve made into these pages to clothing that has been dyed with tea. Along the same lines, here’s an article about a designer who creates fabric from kombucha, among other things. Kombucha is a cultured drink that’s not tea in the strictest sense of the word but which is usually mixed with tea.

Then there are zany novelty tea infusers. I try not to let too many of those columns pass without a reference to at least one. This time around I’ll point you to not one but rather a fine assortment of twenty tea infusers, courtesy of the good people over at the Mashable site.

Speaking of zany and novelty, there’s teapots. If you happen to be in Pomona, California this spring you might want to stop by the Big Fish Small Pot teapot event. If you miss it there’s always next year. After all, this year’s incarnation is billed as the Sixth International Small Teapot Competition and Show. More here. For more on teapots, there’s always the teapots teapots teapots site, where they feature such offbeat items of interest as this one.

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.

Our top story this month could probably fall into the realm of both gadget and offbeat news and feels more than a little bit like something out of a science fiction book or movie. As the story goes, one prominent British tea company is striving to sell more tea in Kuwait by using a hologram in the shape of a human being. The point of the “virtual assistant” as this article puts it, is to “show Kuwaitis how to make a perfect cup of tea.”

Better than a hologram: How to Make Perfect Cup of Tea from ETS video

Better than a hologram: How to Make Perfect Cup of Tea from ETS video

The notion of a social network for tea lovers is not exactly a new thing. One of the best known of these so far is probably Steepster, which has been in operation for many years now. But that didn’t stop an 18-year-old British high school student from trying his variation on the theme. As the web site notes, it “gives users a chance to share their photos, recommend teas and tea shops, comment on other people’s posts and find out everything tea related near to their location.”

I have yet to see an episode of Downton Abbey, but given that it’s set in World War I-era England it’s safe to say that tea plays a part in the proceedings. Perhaps to take advantage of another popular trend these days – the food truck – the producers and publicists for the show have apparently begun sending the Downton Abbey Tea Truck on its rounds to drum up more interest in the show. Time magazine recently paid the truck a visit. You can find out more about it here.

Tea gadgeteers have increasingly begun taking to crowdfunding (Kickstarter, Indiegogo and so on) these days to try to drum up support for their projects. I ran across a few examples recently that are worth a mention. There’s the Temperfect mug, which claims to solve the problem of tea (or coffee) being too hot to drink at first and then cooling off too fast. Then there’s the Immerset, a gadget that claims to improve the experience of tea (and coffee) brewing. As the inventor puts it it’s an “exciting brewing method that combines both french press & pour over.”

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.

Assam Tea Bags (ETS image)

Assam Tea Bags (ETS image)

There are a couple of themes that seem to crop up now and then when it comes to gimmicky tea-related stuff. One is using tea in one way or another to make some sort of art and the other is using tea to make or flavor beer or spirits. The latter is a topic I wrote about a few years ago, but it’s a notion that also cropped up recently in the Scottish press.

Which tells of a collaboration between two firms – Eteaket and Barney’s Beer – to come up with a few tea-flavored beers. The first of which – a chili Rooibos blend – didn’t turn out so well. Imagine that. Two other experiments – a Smoky Lapsang Porter and a Breakfast Brew – apparently turned out quite a bit better and you can read more about it all here.

As for that art project, here’s a tale from the British press, of an American artist who paints with tea – literally – though his palette also includes coffee. The impressive works – some of which are showcased in the article – are said to take several months each and the Pennsylvania-based artists claims to use flavored teas from around the world on his canvasses.

But let’s get on to the gadgets now. The German firm known as Finum make a rather distinctive line of tea and coffee accessories and their curiously named Traveler Zita is an interesting addition to that line. If I understand it correctly it’s a tumbler that allows for tea to be conveniently steeped on the go (though I’m sure they wouldn’t object if you used it at home) with a simple twist of the lid preventing the tea leaves from being oversteeped.

Time magazine suggested recently Lazy Tea Drinkers Will Soon Be Able to Boil Water With Their iPhone. But that’s a slightly deceptive headline, if I do say so myself. I’m pretty sure Apple hasn’t come up with a phone yet that actually boils water. What they meant to say is that you can use your phone to initiate the water boiling process on a device that’s been dubbed the iKettle, which can be had for a mere $160. I’m going to hazard a guess that lazy coffee drinkers and lazy hot chocolate drinkers can also make use of it.

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.

Let’s start with the offbeat news this time around. Does it get any more offbeat than breast milk in tea? Hard to say. I’m not sure who Mylene Klass is or what her claim to fame is. But apparently she’s well known enough that the British press is abuzz of her recent revelation that when she was growing up it was common for her family to use breast milk in their tea. I’ll pass.

Tea for dogs? Now we've heard it all. (screen capture from site)

Tea for dogs? Now we’ve heard it all. (screen capture from site)

Following that, the notion of tea for dogs seems rather mild. This one was also featured in the British press recently and recounted the tale of the clever entrepreneurs who have put together “a new range of premium teabags for dogs.” They’re tisanes really, since no real tea is included, and they’re said to cost about ten times as much as the popular British brand, PG Tips. Barking mad, indeed.

If doggy tea bags didn’t chew up enough of your disposable income, then consider this automatic teamaker type gadget that will set you back about three hundred dollars. Sleek-looking, space-age teamakers are hardly a rarity these days but this one apparently is being endorsed by celebrity chef, Heston Blumenthal. Who, as far as I can tell, is a lot better known on the other side of the Atlantic than here, but there you have it.

While we’re talking pricey tea accessories I would probably be remiss if I didn’t mention this Tea With Georg tea set that comes to us from a Dutch company and is made of 100 percent silver. Of course, silver might not quite be to your liking and so you might be more interested in this 24 karat gold afternoon tea, served at a high-end Indian hotel, in which a number of the items are prepared with edible gold. But alas, while the champagne apparently contains gold flakes as well, there’s no mention in this article about whether the tea does.

Last up, here’s a gizmo that gets my vote for being one of the more clever tea-related items I’ve run across for a while. It’s a drinkable tea calendar made by the German tea company Halssen & Lyon. That’s a drinkable tea calendar, as in you can peel off the calendar entry for each day, steep it and drink it. It’s a promotional item that’s apparently not sold to the general public yet but according to one report the company may make it more widely available.

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.

June is iced tea month, but there’s been a lot more going on than that in terms of tea developments. Here’s a quick look at some that may not necessarily be new but are still not in the mainstream of tea drinkers’ awareness.

Leaf from Keyway Innovations seeks funding through Indiegogo website. (screen capture from PR video)

Leaf from Keyway Innovations seeks funding through Indiegogo website. (screen capture from PR video)

20 Teas Selected as Best for Serving Iced

Iced tea can be tricky, and some teas take the cold well while others don’t, as I have experienced first hand on numerous occasions, to the point of giving up on iced tea altogether. So, this competition (which actually took place on May 21st) was pretty important. The good news is the judges stated that overall quality is getting better. And the variety is higher, too. Both flavored and unflavored, sweetened and unsweetened, white, green, black, and oolong were selected. Great news for those of you who can’t live without a gallon or two every day during these hot times.

World Tea Expo in Las Vegas, held June 7 thru 9

Another gathering of tea vendors and eager tea drinkers braving triple-digit temperatures to show and be seen. Some events featured were: a demonstration of the tea leaf baking ceremony, a rollout of dozens of new tea products, and a discussion group of tea bloggers (yours truly not included). Sadly, one of their events was the “North American Tea Championship Winners Tasting Circle – White, Green, Oolong, Unflavored Herbal Teas.” (Herbal teas? Really? How very disappointing.)

India Tea Board Places New Requirement on Tea

According to Rajiv Lochan, a tea vendor from India, the India Tea Board has to approve import and exports. More government slowing things down maybe? Will have to see how this affects the market or if it will at all.

Tea Innovators Turning to Fundraising Sites

Kickstarter, Indigogo, and other sites are where inventive types can raise funds needed to develop their products more fully and bring them to market. One such invention is Leaf by Keyway Innovations, the cleverly innovative tea maker “that lets you truly enjoy the taste, brewing experience and health benefits of freshly brewed tea.” They are on Indiegogo and have a good start on reaching their funding goal. Got your own tea product idea? Check out some of these fundraising sites. You could be the next big sensation.

That’s it for this month. Will see what next month brings.

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.

Tea 2030 launches (screen capture from site)

Tea 2030 launches (screen capture from site)

Here’s a quick look at some tea developments that may not necessarily be new but are still not in the mainstream of tea drinkers’ awareness.

U.S. Tea Growers Expanding

Nigel Melican reports: “I now have positive responses from tea growers in eight US states – and many more potential growers – that’s marvellous [sic] in just 6 days.
The inaugural meeting of the US League of Tea Growers will be held at the World Tea Expo at 4:30pm on Saturday 8th June 2013. All interested parties are welcome.” Sounds fabulous! As a nation that still goes for coffee much more frequently than for tea, this is an amazing development.

Tea Flavor Enhancer Patent

Unilever, the company behind a very well-known brand of powdered and bottled tea, has filed an international patent for a process that creates tea juices to enhance the flavor of those tea powders and bottled teas. The tea juices are made with minimal processing and higher levels of bioactive compounds. Naturally, tea lovers are a tad…uh, well… up in arms, actually. Personally, I have to say that anyone who buys bottled teas or powdered instant teas has already opted to get less than a true tea experience. So, why should a flavor enhancer be a big deal?

Tea 2030 Project Launches

The Tea 2030 project is going to be exploring how the tea industry could change over the next 17 years. Leading stakeholders in the tea industry, from growers to producers to vendors) will be looking into the challenges facing them all. From drought to the push to give up crop saving pesticides to changing from manual harvesting to machine, tea growers face a lot of issues, and those issues ripple out to producers and vendors.

That’s it for this month. Will see what next month brings.

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.

Is drinking tea bad for you? Well, apparently it is if you drink it to ridiculous excess. Of course, you could probably make the argument that anything you consume in ridiculous amounts becomes bad for you. A recent report in the New England Journal of Medicine has garnered a rather ridiculous amount of press in itself, now that you mention it. It told the tale of a woman who for seventeen years drank a pitcher of tea a day made with up to 150 tea bags, a habit which wreaked havoc on her teeth and bones. Perhaps it would be impolite of me to say that a little common sense might have prevented this, but there it is.

On a decidedly lighter note, how about some tea-scented toilet paper? No, it’s not a belated April Fool’s day joke. It’s hard to imagine that the Japanese could come up with something offbeat and quirky but that’s where these several “flavors” of the aforementioned product come from. As much as I love tea, I’m afraid I’ll pass. Ditto for the Earl Grey lip balm available here, along with other such flavors as Tupelo Honey and Mint Julep.

If you’re more in the mood for something tea-flavored that you can actually consume, then you might try a product from yet another brewer who’s decided to blend the two great tastes of beer and tea. Here’s a brief blurb on Flying Dog Green Tea Imperial Stout, which comes with a price tag more suited to a moderately decent wine.

It’s been way too long since we presented our noble readers with any strange and offbeat teapots, so it’s time to make amends. Here’s a roundup of 9 Unique Teapots from Real Simple magazine. For almost four times the quirky teapot goodness have a look at 33 Quirky Teapot Designs from the good people at Trend Hunter. Finally we close this edition of the gadget report with a truly unusual helmet fashioned from a tea kettle. There’s one for the tea lover who has absolutely everything.

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.

Here’s a quick look at some tea developments that may not necessarily be new but are still not in the mainstream of tea drinkers’ awareness.

Post-Qingming harvesting is now complete (Photo source: stock image)

Post-Qingming harvesting is now complete (Photo source: stock image)

Tea Harvests Progress

First flush teas are generally harvested in March and April, depending on their location. In China: Pre-Qing teas are harvested from about March 30th through April 5th, so they are done now; the mid-April (Yu Qian) teas are finishing up; Gu Yu and Li Xia teas will be getting underway from about April 30th through May 31st. In India: Darjeeling first flush teas have pretty much finished and shipped to vendors, Assam first flush is done with the second flush (what those “tippy” Assams are made of) is growing as you read this. In Japan, most regions will be starting harvest soon (usually the end of April through early May).

If you like those really fresh teas, keep these dates in mind when ordering from your favorite tea vendor. Some are already pre-announcing the expected arrivals of these new teas (not to be confused with new tea products added to the vendor’s site).

Bottled Tea Sales

Sure we here in the U.S. drink bottled tea year round, but it seems to be more in warmer weather than in cooler. And projections look rosy for bottled tea makers as more Americans dump the cola in favor of that tea. Black, green, oolong, and white in both flavored and straight versions are filling grocery store shelves, but not for long as buyers rush in to stock up. Flavors include lemon, peach, raspberry, and citrus, plus some less common ones like pineapple, apple, mint, strawberry, and chocolate.

Job Opportunities at Tea Gardens

With the change from hand-picked to machine harvesting in some tea growing countries such as Kenya a few years ago, jobs at tea gardens have also changed from rows of women out in among the tea plants to more skilled workers driving the harvesters. They also need other semi-skilled workers. For example, Unilever, a large-scale tea grower with a presence in various countries, had an ad online recently looking for drivers in Kenya to drive the lorries carrying harvested tea leaves to the processing plant. Other positions become available as harvesting times kick in.

That’s it for this month. Will see what next month brings.

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.

These reports are a forum for discussing gadgets and offbeat tea-related news, but it seems that the coverage sometimes is slanted toward the former. So I’ll start things off this time around with what I thought was a decidedly offbeat bit of tea news. According to this article, it seems that black tea – in addition to being my own personal favorite type of tea for drinking – can be used to clean windows.

H.M. British Tea Colour Chart (Photo source: screen capture from site)

H.M. British Tea Colour Chart (Photo source: screen capture from site)

Who knew? The author of said article claims to have “steeped an extra-strong glass of simple black tea,” using three Earl Grey tea bags in eight ounces of water. The resulting concoction allowed her to create a veritable window wonderland. For my money that’s really about the only good use for Earl Grey tea, but I realize that such a comment is hardly appropriate and so I retract it.

Does bouncing your tea bag actually do anything substantial? I can’t take credit for coming up with the question and I wasn’t really wondering, thank you very much. But if you’ve ever found yourself musing about the science of bouncing teabags look at this article, where a so-called tea chemist does an in-depth analysis (math and physics alert – beware) of what bouncing can do for you.

I’m not sure what to make of this H.M. British Tea Colour Chart. It claims to be “intended for use as a visual aid in the correct preparation of the United Kingdom’s most popular hot beverage.” I’m not sure how hues such as Brown Zero, Nigerian Sunset and Mountain Chimp contribute to correct tea prep, but then I never claimed to know all that much.

This one’s not specifically related to tea, but since it has to do with the caffeine found in nearly all tea we’ll go with it. Apparently some plants use caffeine as an enticement to bees to come back around again and aid in the pollination process that helps plants keep going from one generation to the next. Make of that what you will.

As we come to the end of this report I find that I haven’t presented even one gadget. Which just won’t do. I’ll close with a fine gadget you might want to get for the tea lover who has everything except for a place to sit whilst contemplating the scope of their many possessions.

© 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.

Here’s a quick look at some tea developments that may not necessarily be new but are still not in the mainstream of tea drinkers’ awareness.

First Flush Darjeeling Teas Coming Soon

First flush Darjeeling (Photo source: The English Tea Store)

First flush Darjeeling (Photo source: The English Tea Store)

The first time of patience for tea drinkers (when the plants are dormant but then start to grow that first time) is almost at an end for this year. Some vendors of Darjeeling teas brought some first flush teas to market already (some small amounts of teas that were trials of new cultivars), but the higher elevations will not be harvesting until probably April. Keep an eye out for announcements. Those of you who can’t wait will want to pre-order so that as soon as the teas are available, they will be sent to you.

Trending Toward Loose Pu-erh

I have been finding more and more pu-erhs available in loose form instead of in compressed cakes of various shapes. This is supposedly an attempt to make this style of tea more attractive to a market that got hooked on tea bags, has ventured into returning to steeping loose leaves, but can’t deal with having to chop some leaves off of a hardened cake. While there are a number of techniques posted on how to loosen up the cakes, for many who are trying to enjoy a nice steeping of some fine tea while rushing through life with kids, jobs, and other activities, taking time to squeeze a bit of such knowledge into their brains is pretty much impossible. The solution of selling pu-erh already in loose form is therefore a stroke of genius… or at least rather innovative.

Twinings Finally Gets Around to Their Own Versions of the Classics

Russian Caravan, gunpowder, Taiwanese high mountain tea, oolong tea, Darjeeling green tea, chamomile flowers, and jasmine pearls have been around a long time but are just now being added to Twinings’ line-up. Believe it or not, this development actually made headlines recently. The results of a busy public relations person? Actually, the headlines were in an Indian paper. To them, this is news indeed. To you and me it’s a matter to shrug about.

That’s it for this month. Will see what next month brings.

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.

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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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