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The chawan was in fashion, out of fashion, and is now back in fashion here in the West (Europe and North America). All over the course of a mere three or four centuries. If you’re thinking of buying one or more, there are some things to consider first. Actually, three things top my list of what to look for when buying that chawan.

First, some basic info. A chawan is a small bowl (no handle) used for sipping tea. When tea first came to Europe such small bowls and handleless sipper cups came with it. Tea being enjoyed mainly by the very rich (due to the high cost and risk of bringing the tea to them), they sought a more genteel (and less finger scorching) way of imbibing that wonderful tea liquid. Ceramists in Europe were able to figure out how to attach a handle that would stay cool and attached to the cup all at once. From that point, the chawans and sipper cups were passed over in favor of these new-fangled cups. Today, though, with teas like matcha and the gongfu style of tea steeping gaining in popularity, the chawan is becoming more popular.

To me, the top one is best from a practical basis, but the others are aesthetically pleasing. (From Yahoo! Images)

To me, the top one is best from a practical basis, but the others are aesthetically pleasing. (From Yahoo! Images)

1 Basic shape

Some chawans are too tall and narrow and shaped more like a sipper cup. They need to be shorter and wider. Some are too straight-sided for my taste versus having a more flared out shape. This is not just a matter of appearance but of practicality since the more flared design is better at allowing a slight cooling of the tea liquid so you can enjoy it more fully. Scorching hot tea will burn your tongue and reduce your ability to enjoy its various flavors and aromas. Some of the shape is determined by which tea you will be having in it. A matcha chawan, for example, needs room for that chasen (tea whisk).

2 Good size

No handle. So you’re going to be holding your chawan either cupped in your hand (if it’s cool enough or if you have fingers made of asbestos), with a small cloth under it like in chanoyu, or by the rim which is my usual method. One good reason to have a chawan that is large enough for you to pour enough tea for a good bit of sipping and yet have the liquid low enough so that you can hold it by the rim.

3 Aesthetic qualities

Let’s face it, tea is a sensory experience. The aroma of the dry tea leaves, no matter what form they are in, draws us in. Then of the steeped liquid where the aroma and flavor are closely linked. And the sight of both dry leaves, liquid, and steeped leaves can add to that experience. The teawares are just as important in these respects, a fact that is evident based solely on the endless designs of teapots, teacups, tea boats, and more, that are available. Chawan glazes centuries ago were often dark in color since the lighter tea liquid was supposed to show best against it. I, however, prefer a white interior so that I can see the true liquid color, part of that sensory experience with tea. And luckily today you can find plenty like that.

Happy shopping!

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.

There are lots of tea blogs, lots of tea professionals advising on this and that about tea, Facebook groups about tea, tweeters on Twitter focused on tea, and more, and many of them talk about how you should do this with tea and that with tea. But is there any real “should” in tea? Well, yes and no.

Some say you shouldn’t put milk in your tea. Others say you should. (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Some say you shouldn’t put milk in your tea. Others say you should. (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

The Should Nots

You definitely should not ditch whatever grocery-store bought teas you have and go spend hundreds on those rare teas that those experts rave about. For one thing, the cheaper teas can be a lifesaver when you need a quick cuppa just to keep going. For another, you can always use those teas for other things such as to help with puffy eyes or as cleaners around the house.

You should also not rush to buy the latest trendy tea or something that celebrities like Lady Gaga are drinking unless you just like spending money on things that you most surely won’t like. Just because a celebrity likes something doesn’t mean you will, but it also doesn’t mean you won’t either.

The Shoulds

When you try a new tea for the first time, learn a little something about it so you will get some idea of what to expect in terms of taste and aroma, even though your experience may be vastly different from what the vendor describes. Follow the vendor’s infusing recommendations (and the vendor “should” supply this information to their customers). Taste the tea liquid (a good mouthful or two) after infusing and before adding milk, sweetener, lemon, honey, mint, etc. Often, you may prefer the tea as is and may even be surprised by this, especially if you are used to drinking teas with lots of flavorings added. This could lead you to explore more of the world of fine teas.

General “shoulds” for teas include using the best water quality you have available, cleaning your teawares in-between uses, and taking your time. Water is the key ingredient in any tea and should never be distilled or sterilized water since it will infuse a flat-tasting liquid. The chlorine/chloramine in most municipal water systems in the U.S. also causes problems, affecting the taste and aroma of your tea. Clean teawares prevent one tea ending up tasting like the tea you steeped just before that. If the earlier tea was one of those flavored teas using something strong like cinnamon, your Ti Kuan Yin could end up with a cinnamony character. And as for time, even if you are having a tea that steeps in a very short time (some need only a few seconds), take your time to sip and savor and let a tea’s aftertaste take over.

The biggest “should” is that you should get the most of out your tea. I know that earning the money to buy those teas can be rather strenuous these days. So, get the most for those tea dollars spent.

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.

There is no shortage of legends about our sixteenth president, Mr. Abraham Lincoln. You probably heard a few of them in school when you were growing up. One persistent tea-related legend is the notion that he once said, “If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee.” It would take a better researcher than I to determine whether Lincoln actually said this, though I’m a bit dubious.

Civil War era Small tin tea or coffee pot (From Yahoo! Images)

Civil War era Small tin tea or coffee pot (From Yahoo! Images)

But it’s a witty thing to say, regardless of who said it first, and it’s as good a way as any to introduce an article about tea drinking in the United States during the Civil War. Which was still going fairly strong at that time, mind you. Some people seem to have the perception that after the Boston Tea Party Americans abandoned tea drinking, never again to touch a teacup to their collective lips. But that’s not so.

Tea drinking was affected during the Revolutionary War, however, as I noticed recently when writing about a tea-related book that was published just as the Civil War was getting started. It recalls that during that previous conflict those who preferred not to drink tea for political or other reasons turned to something called Liberty Tea, which was made from the leaves of a plant called loose strife.

While there’s a popular notion that the old American favorite – iced tea – didn’t appear until the early twentieth century, it was a tradition that was actually in place by the time of the Civil War and probably had been for at least several decades. Though for an army on the march in the 1860s the availability of ice could be a bit spotty, to say the least.

Also, depending on which side you were on, the availability of tea itself might have been a bit spotty as well. While this list (PDF) of Civil War foods lists coffee and tea as staples for both sides it indicates that supplies of coffee for the Southerners were affected by Union blockades, which suggests that tea might have been similarly affected. Coffee substitutes were common during this time and here’s a recipe for Blueberry Tea that’s said to date from the Civil War era.

If you’d like to get some idea of what type of tea might have been consumed in the United States during the Civil War era you might want to try a commemorative tea (American Civil War Gunpowder Tea) offered by noted tea person Bruce Richardson, who was profiled at this site previously. His tea would have been similar to the tea that might have been consumed by some of the masses of troops who occupied the area around Richardson’s Elmwood Inn, in Kentucky. Gunpowder is a type of green tea of strongly flavored green tea that’s shaped into small pellet shapes.

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.

Cultivar or varietal? It’s all tea! (Stock image)

Cultivar or varietal? It’s all tea! (Stock image)

The world of tea is full of all kinds of terms, many that are bandied about willy-nilly and not used correctly. Not long ago an attempt was made to clarify using “cultivar” versus “varietal” when talking about tea plants. Now, I’m all for going for such clarity, but I think the very short article didn’t go far enough and still left a big gap in readers’ knowledge. Time for a closer look.

What Is a Cultivar

This is pretty simple. There are many definitions online, and some go into great depth regarding every aspect of this term horticulturally speaking. Here’s a pretty simple and straightforward one:

cul·ti·var (kŭl′tə-vär′, -vâr′) n. A race or variety of a plant that has been created or selected intentionally and maintained through cultivation. (From Thefreedictionary.com)

More facts about cultivars:

  • The word “cultivar” [short for “cultivated variety”] was coined in 1923 by Liberty Hyde Bailey (1858–1954). He stated, “I now propose…cultivar, for a botanical variety, or for a race subordinate to species, that has originated under cultivation; it is not necessarily, however, referable to a recognized botanical species. It is essentially the equivalent of the botanical variety except in respect to its origin.”
  • Officially, a cultivar must be distinct, having characteristics that easily distinguish it from any other known cultivar, and under repeated propagation these characteristics must be retained.
  • The origin of “cultivar” is based on a need to distinguish between wild plants and those with characteristics due to cultivation.
  • Example of correct text presentation: Cryptomeria japonica ‘Elegans’ (the scientific Latin botanical name is in italics, and the cultivar name is in single quotes).

What Is a Variety

You probably noticed that the word “variety” is part of the term “cultivar.” Here is a good definition I found online:

…a “variety” (sometimes abbreviated “var.”) arises naturally in the plant kingdom, and plants grown from its seeds will typically come out true to type. … When a variety is named, it appears differently than a cultivar name does. Rather than being presented in single quotes, it is italicized and in lower case — just like the species name, which it follows. (From Landscaping on About.com)

For the tea plant, we have Camellia sinensis (the main plant), Camellia sinensis var. sinensis (China), Camellia sinensis var. assamica (Assam, India), Camellia sinensis var. parvifolia (Cambodia), and Camellia sinensis var. japonica (Japan). There may be others.

What Is a Varietal

Time for finding out what a “varietal” is. Here is a typical definition I found online:

adj. adjective – Of, indicating, or characterizing a variety, especially a biological variety. (From dictionary.search.yahoo.com)

Therefore, calling something the assamica varietal is correct usage. It’s simply short for saying Camellia sinensis var. assamica (where “var.” stands for “variety”). And, as that other author said, calling something the Tieguanyin varietal is improper, since it is a cultivar, but I have to disagree that saying “Tieguanyin is a varietal tea made from the ‘Tieguanyin’ cultivar” is a correct usage of the term “varietal.” And I’m not sure where the author got that definition of “varietal.” It certainly differs from the ones I found (dozens, all saying virtually the same thing).

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 Sub Yellow (screen capture from site)

Tea Sub Yellow (screen capture from site)

When it comes to offbeat Beatles-related merchandise, Beatles hair spray has to rank pretty high on the list. But of course this site is all about tea, and so it’s only fitting that we make reference to a few tea-themed items. There’s a Yellow Submarine tea infuser, for example.

To top that, one well-known tea company came up with a tea they call Beatles’ Blend. Though their web site no longer lists it as being available and doesn’t indicate what it had to do with the Fab Four, another source offers the original description for the blend, “A classic twist on Earl Grey black tea, Beatles Blend black tea hearkens back to the roots of the Beatles’ homeland. We start with traditional Earl Grey, and then add in a rich, malty tea from China, reminiscent of an English Breakfast tea. We balance the blend with an Indian tea that speaks to the Beatles’ avid fascination with and travels to India. Finally, we top it off with a twist of jasmine culminating in a blend destined to become a star.”

To go even one step better than that, a New York-based tea house came up with a special Peace & Love Tea a few years back to commemorate the observance of Ringo Starr’s seventieth birthday (feeling old, Beatles fans?).

To judge by their songs, tea was indeed one of the Beatles favorite drinks. As one might rightly have suspected, given that they were a quartet of British lads, after all. According to Martin Lewis, who claims to be one of the world’s leading Beatles historians, references to tea turned up in more than a dozen Beatles songs, including five that were recorded during one three-month period in 1967 alone.

References to tea in Beatles songs even turned up in the post-Beatles years and one of the most notable of these was Paul McCartney’s (that’s Sir Paul to you) 2005 track, English Tea, which was a tribute to…that’s right. As for John Lennon, some decades after his death his widow wrote in a New York Times piece about his tea prep and drinking habits and discussed the questions they had over whether the tea bags should go in before the hot water or vice versa.

If there is still any doubt that the Beatles were a proper bunch of tea-drinking British lads, then let the photographic evidence on this page be the final word. After all, fifty-plus photos of one or more Beatles drinking tea makes a pretty good case.

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.

Great smile! (screen capture from her web site)

Great smile! (screen capture from her web site)

If you want to peruse the full range of Lisa Boalt Richardson’s tea-related achievements, consult her web site here. There are quite a few of these achievements, but we’ll just touch on some of the highlights. She claims to be “one of the first 15 in the world to graduate from the Specialty Tea Institute (STI) with a ‘Certified Tea Specialist’ title in 2008″ and has trained and worked with various other tea organizations.

Then there are the books. There’s Tea with a Twist: Entertaining and Cooking with Tea, which came along first, in 2009, and in which the author “inspires readers to set their tables for fun and serve up any of her eight contemporary tea parties.” The next year saw publication of The World in Your Teacup: Celebrating Tea Traditions, Near and Far, which finds the author “leading tea-lovers on a fact-filled, taste-as-you-go journey around the world.” The latest of Richardson’s books, which is so recent that it’s not even out yet, is Modern Tea: A Fresh Look at an Ancient Beverage, which is set to be released in late 2014. Richardson has also been featured in or written for such august publications as the New York Times, Woman’s Health, Real Simple and Cooking With Paula Deen, as well as many, many others.

In an interview with the National Geographic Intelligent Travel site, Richardson said that her love for tea came about first because she liked the taste of tea. Following that she became enamored of the contemplative aspects of tea drinking and culture and the ability it gives one to slow down. Finally, she said, “When I really began to study tea as a career, my interest in tea grew to discovering and loving tea traditions and culture from around the world. Learning where tea is grown, who grows it, and how it is experienced all over the globe became fascinating to me.”

When asked her favorite tea, however, Richardson declined to pin things down, citing some of the following as favorites, “Darjeeling first flush, keemun, golden monkey, oolongs of all kinds, jasmine pearl green tea, and dragon well.”

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.

The fourth month of the year is beginning, a time of things like cute bunnies and Easter and everything blooming. A time to be very “hoppy” about tea. In recognition, here are some teas that I would tend to think of as spring-like and not to miss in April:

5 “hoppy” teas for April (you’ll need to supply the cute bunnies in teacups yourself). (ETS image composite)

5 “hoppy” teas for April (you’ll need to supply the cute bunnies in teacups yourself). (ETS image composite)

1 Foil-pouch protected from those April showers: Stash Jasmine Blossom Green Tea

Jasmine is a lovely flower and has been used for centuries to add its wonderful floral fragrance to teas. This is a Chinese green tea scented with jasmine. There are seven grades of quality, depending on the type of tea used and the care used in the scenting process. (Read more about this type of flavored tea here on our blog.) In this case, this a downy silver tipped green tea and most of the jasmine blossoms have been removed. The result is a balanced and delicate flavor of tea and bloom that will add a touch of romance to your day and is also pleasant to sip and relax with in the evening. As one of our customers commented, a dash of agave nectar will sweeten and heighten the jasmine presence in your cup.

2 Ready for those Spring-time blooms: Buckingham Palace Garden Party Tea

Black and green tea take on the glorious Spring-time scents of jasmine blossoms and cornflower petals while also combining with natural flavors such as oil of bergamot. The combination results in a tea perfect for that afternoon tea break to catch some rays after being cooped up inside during the cold months of Winter. The teas used are a high-grown Ceylon black tea flavored with oil of bergamot, green tea from the Fujian Province of China scented with jasmine, some malty Borengajuli Estate Assam black tea, Dimbula Ceylon tea, and some Kenyan from Kambaa and Kagwe. They play together like the London Philharmonic Orchestra where everything is in tune and harmonious yet distinct. A couple of our customers have commented that this tea really lifts their mood and goes well with sweet foods!

Just remember as you’re sipping that this tea has been a long-time favorite at the annual garden tea part held in May by the Queen at Buckingham Palace. See more about the annual Buckingham Palace Garden Party here on our blog.

3 VersatiliTEA: Peach Apricot White Tea

Just remember that April showers bring those flowers that into fruits do grow – and mixed with white tea they do bring glee with each sip setting heart aglow! Hee! A bit of tea time poetry here. Seriously, this is a wonderful white tea with natural flavors of peach and apricot – two stone fruits whose flavors often are imitated in some of the finer teas but here are added in, almost like a fruit-ade but with that white tea goodness. One customer remarked on the divine aroma of this tea and another said she combines it with our blueberry green tea for an even fruitier taste. Whatever way you steep it, this tea will be an uplifting experience.

4 A real surpriser: Oolong Orange Blossom Estate Tea

Be forewarned that this tea is not a straight oolong but a blend of Ceylon black, Taiwanese oolong, and green teas. If you are used to steeping your oolongs a certain way, such as in a Yixing teapot or gaiwan, it will not necessarily be a good idea here. In fact, I prefer one of my smaller ceramic teapots (the reason that I have a bevy of teapots instead of just one or two – in fact, I’ve added to that bevy since writing this article awhile back). One of our customers commented on this and her own experiments with steeping it various ways. In addition, while the name says “orange blossom,” there are actually jasmine petals and other natural flavors, including dried orange pieces, in this tea. Another customer blends it with blueberry tea for serving iced.

5 Generations of tea knowledge in a cup: Harney and Sons Earl Grey Imperial Tea

Several generations of Harneys have built a tea company with a solid reputation, and this tea is one that does them proud. A classy black tea is infused with lemony oil of Bergamot to just the right level. You will find it perfect for your afternoon tea moment or even for that quiet night-time tea time when the house is still and everyone else is in bed. One customer remarked that this tea was rich in flavor, smooth, and not bitter. Sounds like a winner to me.

Hope you get to try some of these during April to help you get make that transition into Spring a smooth one. 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.

Left this cuppa on the warmer too long – ewwwww! (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Left this cuppa on the warmer too long – ewwwww! (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Tea scum can be the bane of a steady tea drinker’s experience. And there appear to be two different kinds. One is from the tea itself and the other is from the milk that many of us add to our black teas to have that British experience. Time to find out how these come about.

Scum Caused by the Tea

At one time, the scum on the surface of a cup of tea was said to come from a thin layer of some waxy substance coating the tea leaves that melted off in the hot water. In 1994, though, an important discovery was made by chemists from Imperial College during their careful research into a matter that plagues tea drinkers everywhere. Samplings of the scum from various cups of black tea were put through a detailed chemical analysis, discovering that it was 15% calcium carbonate and the rest was various other chemicals. Thus, hard water that has a lot of calcium in it is a culprit here, but the tea contributes chemicals, too, that add to that scummy build-up. Less than one milligram of scum is formed in a cup of tea and is not thought to be a health risk, just an annoyance.

You can filter out the calcium (bicarbonate ions) or add acids to convert it to CO2 (carbon dioxide). You can also switch to bottled water, which is what we did in our house. Steeping the tea up very strong is another solution since the acidic tea polyphenols will partly neutralize those bicarbonate ions. Or you can add lemon, which has now been officially declared to be a solution by Michael Spiro and Deogratius Jaganyl, two British chemists at the Imperial College of Science, Technology, and Medicine in London.

Tea stains inside teacups and teapots are sometimes referred to as tea scum but are not. Black tea is usually the one where the concern over these stains arises, especially on the inside of teapots and teacups where they are difficult to remove using normal dish detergents. It is said to be caused by pigments, formed during the fermentation of the tea leaves, that are left behind when the tea liquid evaporates. A damp rag, vigorous scrubbing, and a little baking soda have proven effective.

Scum Caused by the Milk

For those of us who like milk in our tea but don’t always drink that cuppa as quickly as we might the dreaded milk scum is a trial and tribulation. What it is, however, seems to be some cause for disagreement. Some say the scum is made of fat globules that coagulate on the surface when their surrounding film of proteins is broken due to heat. Thus, skim milk that has all the fat removed will not form this scum. Others say that the scum is coagulated proteins that form due to heat and then rise to the surface to form that scummy skin. Constant stirring is supposed to help prevent this, but if I had time to stir my tea, I’d have time to drink it before this scum formed and thus would not even see it. Using a cup warmer is another issue, where the lower the level of liquid in the cup, the higher the likelihood of scum forming on the remaining tea (with milk in it, that is).

Bottom Line

Both types of scum are problematic to tea drinkers but seem to have fairly easy solutions. For the first kind, you can switch to bottled water or to using lemon in your tea. For the second kind, you can drink faster so the scum doesn’t have time to form. Gee, I wish all problems had such simple solutions!

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.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: A Pop-up Adaptation (from Amazon.com)

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: A Pop-up Adaptation (from Amazon.com)

As I research assorted and sundry articles dealing with various aspects of tea history, I’ve run across a number of important historical events that have taken place in the month of April (or more specifically on the 1st). Here are a few of them:

April 1, 2813 BC
Chinese emperor Shung Mung discovers tea and the tea bag at the exact same moment. The Emperor is folding pieces of paper (which he’d invented the year before) into little kitty shapes when a sudden windstorm blows a bunch of leaves from off of the tea plant located right next to the window of his workshop. As he happens to look away for a moment a number of the leaves happen to blow directly into the paper kitty he is working on. At this very moment he just happens to drop the paper packet and tea leaves into a pot of water that was boiling on a fire next to him – for no apparent reason.

April 1, 1703
At the request of the eccentric inventor Baron Percival Egspeth Snork, a blacksmith creates what is believed to be one of the first tea infusers. It is a large, unwieldy device fashioned out a heavy piece of cast iron and tends to crush the dainty porcelain tea cups it’s tested on. Unfortunately, while working on the design of a second prototype of this device, Snork dies in a bizarre whittling accident that remains unexplained to this day.

April 1, 1773
Mrs. Edna Winkerbean holds the first tea party in what will soon become the United States. The party is held at her home in Boston. It is a very nice affair and is attended by several ladies in the neighborhood. Crumpets are served. The participants refer to this momentous event as the Boston Tea Party, which turns out to be a bad choice of names.

April 1, 1899
Jedediah Whufflesnorfer invents the Teafflesnorfer, which he insists is not named after himself. It’s a device that automatically begins to prepare tea at the sound of a rooster crowing. Through a complicated system of gears, belts, and levers, it cleans itself after each use and refills itself with tea leaves and water. It does not do windows. So don’t even ask.

April 1, 2013
Alarmed by the news that the Dormouse kept dozing off during the Mad Tea-Party in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, a number of tea companies begin research into tea products that are “enhanced” with extra caffeine.

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.

The tea vendor’s own brand is often the better deal! (ETS image)

The tea vendor’s own brand is often the better deal! (ETS image)

While those name brand teas can be very tasty and reliable, the tea vendor’s own brand is often the much better deal. Not always… but often!

Our tea pantry is well stocked with several name brand teas. We have a boat load of Barry’s Tea Gold Blend, plenty of Pg Tips, an ample supply of Typhoo, and even some Yorkshire Gold in both loose and teabags. There also is a box of Taylors of Harrogate Pure Assam Tea in amongst them somewhere. We enjoy these on a daily basis, but they do not count among our most favorite “must have” teas. That status belongs to several tea vendor brand teas, including these:

  • Borengajuli Estate Tea – We absolutely love love love this tea! An Assam tea that is everything you expect from this tea growing region of India. Great with milk and sweetener. Or you can use a bit of honey or even lemon.
  • Scottish Breakfast Tea – We love this one just as much as the Borengajuli Estate Tea. Sometimes it’s a coin toss in the morning as to which of these we steep to drink with our breakfast. This is a blend of Assam and Keemun and steeps up a cuppa that would make the Scots proud.
  • Keemun Panda China Black Tea – Another totally delish tea that gets us all excited just thinking about it. Slightly smoky but not overly so.
  • Sylvakandy Estate Orange Pekoe Tea – Absolute diviniTEA! What can we say other than that it’s total deliciousness in a cup. We steep up a 6-cup potful and soon have it all gone.

That’s the black tea category, but hubby and I have some favorites in other tea categories, too:

The main point here is to show some of the many tea vendor brand teas that are as good as or even better than name brand teas and at a much better price. For example, here are some quick price comparisons as of the writing of this article:

  • Barry’s Original Blend – 80 teabags – weighs 8.8 ounces (a little over half a pound) – list price is $14.99 (19 cents per bag or $1.70 per ounce).
  • Borengajuli Estate – loose leaf – weighs a full pound (16 ounces) – $14.74 (92 cents per ounce).
  • Borengajuli Estate – 50 teabags – weighs 5.5 ounces – $7.84 (16 cents per bag or $1.42 per ounce).

The tea vendor brand is more economical without any sacrifice in quality, both in the loose and bagged versions. My Scottish and Irish tea-drinking ancestors would highly approve!

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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