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Tea History & Culture

Tea History & Culture

The History of Moroccan Tea

January 6, 2022

There are many different tales that people believe when it comes to the birth of tea in Morocco. Some historians believe that the British Queen Victoria personally sent over tea to the Queen of Morocco, while others believe it was introduced by the Arabs when they first arrived in Morocco. While the history of how tea arrived in Morocco has been a debated topic by historians for years, it is important to understand the culture and art of tea as it is known in Moroccan culture. The art of tea drinking has been a part of the Moroccan culture for centuries and there are many different traditions and tales about Moroccan tea culture. It holds a symbolic value in Morocco and the state has since become one of the largest tea importers in the world.

As trade increased throughout Morocco in the late 1800s, tea spread throughout the country. Tea has since become part of the Moroccan ritual and a social rite in the state. People first started drinking tea in Morocco because they were not allowed to drink alcohol. This is why Moroccan tea can sometimes be referred to as the berber of whiskey because it served as a placeholder for the alcohol they were not allowed to consume. Muslims were forbidden from consuming alcohol for religious purposes, so they looked to Moroccan tea as a logical alternative. Moroccans refer to tea is Attay. It is a sacred drink that offers a sense of welcoming and generosity to anyone passing through or visiting.

Although tea is not grown in Morocco, it is a huge part of their culture and everyday life. The most famous Moroccan tea is Moroccan Mint Tea. Moroccan Mint Tea or Maghrebi mint tea is a symbol of hospitality and generosity and is often consumed when meeting with family, friends, acquaintances, and more. It is green tea prepared with mint leaves, sugar, and sometimes other herbs. It is a tea that is meant to be prepared in front of guests and can be consumed at any time of the day. It is usually prepared on a large tray with a teapot full of hot water, green tea leaves, herbs, mint leaves, and sugar. The teapot where you will often find Moroccan mint tea is called a Sinia tea tray. Typically, they are silver and have matching silver sets to accompany them. The portions are usually served in a large pot which means you never consume just one glass. This is another example of hospitality in the Moroccan tea culture.

Moroccan tea is mixed by pouring the infusion from teapot to teapot and allowing it to cool down in the process. The secret to making the best Moroccan Mint Tea lies in the amount of ingredients you put in and the time in which the ingredients infuse together. The sweeter the tea, the more value you are as a guest to the host serving your tea. Another fact that can be associated with the importance of a guest is the height at which the host pours the tea from the teapot. The higher the teapot is, the important you are as a guest. This ritual is also scientific, as it helps in oxygenating the tea and facilitate digestion. The large portions are meant to serve as an inviting, welcoming factor. It is often prepared by a male, typically the head of the family, whereas the food is prepared by the women in the family. Sipping loudly is a symbol of Western etiquette as it shows a sign of appreciation to the host or preparer of the tea. If you find yourself in a Moroccan marketplace, vendors may offer you tea to invite you in and try to sell their product to you. Moroccan tea traditions are not only popular in Morocco, but in the surrounding North African states as well.

Some foods that are typically paired with Moroccan tea include traditional dishes such as couscous or B’sara (bean soup). The sky is the limit here but don’t be surprised to find a table laden with loads of carbohydrates. Pastries and breads make up a bulk of the typical sweets at the table when enjoying Moroccan Tea. Msemmen is a favorite snack for kids and adults alike. They’re usually offered at breakfast or in the late afternoon for snacks. They can be served sweet with honey and butter or made savory and stuffed with onions and spices. Another dish you are likely to see is a plate of Moroccan cookies better known as Ghoriba Bahla. These delicate cookies are shortbread with almonds and sesame seeds.

Brew your own serving of Moroccan Mint Tea using our Gunpowder Green Tea. Moroccan Mint Tea is easy to make and relies heavily on timing. Start by gathering the ingredients: gunpowder green tea, fresh mint leaves, sugar, and water. Gunpowder Green Tea is a Chinese-style tea that is rolled into small balls to resemble gunpowder. In Morocco, it is directly imported from China. Start by boiling your water in a kettle and adding the gunpowder green tea leaves. Cover the leaves and allow the water to steep. After straining and disregarding the leaves, add fresh mint and sugar to the pot. Allow the combination to steep for just over 5 minutes. To achieve the perfect infusion, pour the pot back and forth between two containers and then serve on a Sinia Tea set.

Moroccan tea is a sign of appreciation that should be accepted upon offering. It is a sign of hospitality that is meant to welcome guests and serve as an act of generosity and kindness. It is a long and leisurely experience that is meant to be enjoyed by all. Its cultural importance cannot be overstated. Whether you want to enjoy its role in local society or to experience Moroccan Mint Tea benefits, you’re in for a treat.

Tea History & Culture

The Rich History of Chai Tea

December 7, 2021

This delightful, steaming cup of tea that everyone loves, is full of rich history that dates back over 5,000 years. Chai tea contains Assam black tea, as well as a mixture of aromatic spices, which was passed down through many generations and is now many customers’ favorite tea! In this article, we’ll be exploring the history of chai, and what’s inside each steaming cup.

What is Chai Tea?

Chai is a Hindi word that means “tea.” Although the origin of masala chai remains a mystery, the original chai tea comes from South Asia. The Assam region in India is where the origins of chai tea are found. Native tea plants were commonly used by South Asians in ancient times as forms of herbal medicine. They also appeared to be able to treat simple illnesses such as the common cold. Chai tea has been loved throughout the centuries due to its many health benefits. 

Traditional chai spices are black tea mixed with cinnamon, star anise, and cardamom. However, chai recipes vary from one household to another and from region to region, as they were passed down through many different generations. The modern chai latte is made by steeping Assam black tea leaves in boiled whole milk.

In the early 1700s, chai tea cultures had spread all the way from East Asia and Western Europe. The British East India Company began cultivating the crop in British India in the 1830s.

India was overwhelmed with the beginning introduction of morning chai. A lot of the Indians now drink at least two to three cups daily at the very minimum. Traditional chai tea was introduced to the world around the 1900s. It later quickly became a popular drink. 

What’s Inside a Cup of Chai?

Traditional chai drinks can be made in many different places, so there is no single recipe that defines chai. These are the main ingredients that chai contains.

Tea: Most popular chai bases are the Darjeeling and Assam black tea from India. You can also make chai with different types of green teas such as the South American herb Yerba Mate and the South African herbal red rooibos ingredients. There are also herbal blends that contain no tea leaves and are made entirely from herbs.

Sweetener: While honey, brown sugar, and white sugar are the most common chai sweeteners for maintaining sweetness, other sugars such as demerara or turbinado can also be used when making chai. Jaggery is an unrefined sugar from cane that is used in India and is almost always used when producing chai. 

Milk: Buffalo milk is popular milk used in India when making chai. The modern-day version of chai is more commonly made with alternative dairy products like soy milk, coconut milk, almond, and rice. To have the best tasting chai possible it may be necessary to steep strong chai in water and add some milk to it. You will find many recipes telling you to simmer the spices with a mixture of milk and water or to even use all milk when doing so.

Spices: Spices such as chai (also known as masala) can vary depending on where they are originating and the cultural preferences. Cardamom, ginger, and cloves were the most common chai spices, and they were all easily available in India to be used in the production of chai. Traditional recipes may include vanilla, nutmeg, and star anise. Bay leaf, allspice, and cacao became increasingly popular as chai moved west. In some recipes, cumin and coriander may also be a selection of ingredients to be used.

Chai tasting

There are many chai recipes, so the beverage can be made in many different ways depending on what ingredients are used. Chai with a lot of ginger and black peppercorns may have a fiery taste. Other chai that contains more vanilla, cinnamon, or nutmeg might leave behind a lasting sweeter taste on your palate. Some chai teas may have a bitter earthiness from cacao or saffron. Other times, fennel and cumin could have a more savory flavor.

Many chai teas are made differently based on the culture in which you are purchasing, and it is helpful to know and understand the different varieties and rich cultural history of chai tea. These teas are made all over the world.

Interested in brewing your own steaming cup?

Tea History & Culture

Pinky’s Up or Down? Tea Etiquette 101

November 16, 2021

Etiquette, in simpler words, is defined as good behavior which distinguishes human beings from animals. Etiquette refers to behaving in a socially responsible way.  From dipping you scone in your teacup to who pours the tea, we are diving in and discussing it all. In order to discuss proper tea etiquette, it must be understood that there are two different types of tea traditions: Afternoon Tea and High Tea. Afternoon Tea and High Tea are often mistaken for one another because many people don’t know that they are completely different meals. In traditional British tea ceremonies, afternoon tea was understood as tea that is meant for the upper class whereas high tea was meant for the lower class. Nowadays, we distinguish the two by the times in which they are served and the food dishes that accompany the tea.

Afternoon Tea

As we know it today, afternoon tea is traditionally served between 3 and 5pm. English afternoon teatime usually falls at 4pm, but in the US it is sometimes served as early as 2pm. Afternoon Tea can be credited by Anna Maria Russell, the seventh Duchess of Bedford. In 1840 during Anna’s reign as Duchess, she would become hungry in the mid-afternoon which is when her staff would serve her tea and light sandwiches to keep her full until dinnertime. This habit became a tea tradition in the United Kingdom and has since become a fashionable social event.

Afternoon tea has also been referred to as “low tea” because of the table setting at a low table, in contrast to high tea which is served at higher tables. It was a time meant for the upper class to enjoy tea paired with a lite bite to fill the gap between lunchtime and dinnertime. Some of the lite bites served at afternoon tea include bite-sized sandwiches, freshly baked scones, and delicate pastries. It is important to note that food should be eaten in order of savory to sweet; no dunking your scone into your tea cup!

High Tea

High tea is offered in the early evening. Although high tea includes a more substantive fare when it comes to food, it is less fancy than afternoon tea as it was originally intended for people of the middle or lower classes. High tea is served at a dining table or high counter at the end of the workday. When the tea traditions were first started, afternoon tea was meant for the rich to enjoy while they go about their afternoon waiting for dinnertime. Afternoon tea was not an option to the working class as they were still working at that time and could not afford to spend several hours sipping tea during the workday. High tea is when the working class was expected to enjoy their tea as it was after the work day.

As mentioned earlier, high tea’s food menu was much more substantive than afternoon tea. Some items include: steak, kidney pie, pickled salmon, crumpets and potato to name a few. The reason that high tea was heartier was because this was essentially dinner for the people of the lower class. Whereas afternoon tea was just to hold people of the upper class over until their dinner which was usually around 8 pm.

Tea Etiquette

When attending afternoon tea and high tea, it is important to follow the dress code for afternoon tea and arrive in “smart casual” fashion. Your outfit should be neat and appropriate. For women this may include an appropriate length dress with a sweater or light jacket. For men, proper attire can include pants and a collared shirt. Clothing items that are not appropriate for afternoon tea include t-shirts shorts, or any type of athleisure. It is also not appropriate to wear anything that may be too revealing such as lowcut shirts and skin-tight dresses. The attire for afternoon tea should be a simple “smart casual” outfit similar to what some may wear to church.

Proper manners are also expected when attending both tea ceremonies. Proper manners include sipping your tea quietly, holding the teacup by the handle, and having your pinkie fingers down (yes, you read that right. Pinky’s are meant to be down!) Another expected rule includes keeping electronic devices away. There are also rules in place when it comes to tea and food.

The entire tea set should remain together. If someone asks for tea then the entire set should be passed to them. The saucer remains on the table and is not meant to be picked up while enjoying a cup of tea unless standing or sitting without a table. When adding anything to your tea, milk is expected to be added first. Do not over stir your tea. As previously noted, the order in which you eat your food is also important. Savory foods including bite-sized sandwiches should be consumed first, followed by scones, and saving the sweets for last. Food must be eaten with your hands, and a scone should be broken into smaller pieces before indulging. The handle of your teacup should be pointed a 3 o’clock if right handed and 9 o’clock if left handed.

What to serve

Food differs when attending afternoon or high tea. Afternoon tea can expect light food bites such as mini sandwiches, scones, and mini desserts. High tea requires silverware to eat the food and typically includes some sort of meat dish. Just as there are certain foods served during afternoon tea, there are certain teas served as well. Teas served during afternoon tea include Earl Grey, and other variations of black teas such as Assam and Darjeeling which can be found on our online collection of loose leaf teas. Our earl grey tea is perfect to serve at afternoon tea as it offers a light taste of delicately blended large leaf black tea and Bergamot oil. Although it is less traditional, herbal teas may also be offered during afternoon tea. Stronger teas are served during High Tea to compliment the heartier meal. This may include a black tea such as the Blackcurrant black tea listed on our online collection of black teas.

While many use the terms afternoon tea and high tea interchangeably, it is important to know and understand the differences between the tea. Tea rooms are found all across the world and may differ in traditions. Read our post on Tea Rooms to Add to Your Bucket List to find a place near you today.

Tea History & Culture

Tea Parties You Never Expected In Pop Culture

November 9, 2021

Teatime has been around since the 1800’s and has become a social event that can be seen in various Hollywood films and television shows. Whether you want to go down the rabbit hole on your way to the Mad Hatter’s tea party or sip on Afternoon Tea with the Crawley family in Downtown Abbey, we are walking you through some of our favorite tea references in pop culture. Let’s take a look at a few marvelous on screen tea moments where tea is either being brewed, boiled, served, passed around, or used as a prop to convey something funny, serious or casual that have kept us wanting more tea!

Mary Poppins Iconic Tea Party Scene

Mary Poppins is a famous musical film that was produced by Walt Disney in 1964. The famous Tea Party at Uncle Albert’s is a tea scene to remember. When Mary takes the children to visit her Uncle Albert, they drink a cup of tea that makes them float to the ceiling. Mary does the only sensible thing and brings tea up to join them. They then enjoy a practically perfect tea around a floating table dressed in a yellow tablecloth. This magical tea party scene is filled with joy and fantasy.

Alice in Wonderland the Mad Hatter’s tea party

Whether you are watching the 1951 animated film, or the 2010 live-action fantasy, The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party in Alice in Wonderland is an event that is not to be missed. It is always tea time in Wonderland! This scene is the main event of the film and the reason why Alice goes on the adventures she does as she encounters the White Rabbit on his way to the tea party. The Mad Hatter’s tea party remains one of literature’s most psychedelic gatherings, leaving readers wondering if March Hare has filled the cups with something more than just tea.

Adele’s Hello music video

Tea made an appearance in pop culture in English singer and songwriter Adele’s music video for her grammy winning song, Hello. Adele, a United Kingdom native, pours herself a cup of tea in the Hello music video to soother her broken heart and this totally stirred the pot, no pun-intended. Fans were outraged at the way Adele prepared her tea which caused quite the uproar among her British fans. She is shown boiling the water and proceeds to pour the hot water and then add in a teabag, which is where the controversy began. In the U.K., it is traditional to steep your tea bag in the hot water prior to pouring your glass. She has since come out and said that she is not the one that made that cup of tea. She said, “I like to brew the tea bag, add a bit of sugar, bit of milk, stir it, stir it, stir it, ring it out, put it wherever you want.”

Sweet Tea in Steel Magnolias

It’s no secret that Sweet Tea is a popular drink in the South. Sweet tea is consumed throughout the 1989 Comedy-Drama film, Steel Magnolias, which takes place in Natchitoches, Louisiana. Dolly Parton’s character, Truvy Jones, famously refers to sweet tea as “the house wine of the South.” Refer to our post on Iced Teas for a Southern Sweet Tea recipe. 

Downtown Abbey

If you are into period dramas, then there is no doubt you have watched PBS’s Downtown Abbey. The show takes place in the early 1900s as it follows an English aristocratic family in a fictional town called Downtown Abbey. During this time in England, teatime was a popular ritual that was served in various different settings. Throughout the show, we see the characters gather for deluxe Afternoon Teas and High Teas. It’s no secret that the British loved to indulge in teatime, which is why it became such a huge social event and is expressed that way throughout the show.

Gossip Girl – The Russian Tea Room

Gossip girl is full of tea, and not just the spilling kind. In Season 2, Episode 23, the characters visit the Russian Tea Room that is full of tea. From gossip spilling, to tea sipping, this episode is the perfect example of the social expectations that come with tea ceremonies. Aside from this episode, there are numerous other scenes where characters like Blair Waldorf share an intimate cup of tea together in deep thought and discussion.

Tea History & Culture

20 Tea Quotes for Tea Lovers

August 2, 2021

“There is no trouble so great or grave that cannot be diminished by a nice cup of tea.”

-Bernard Paul Heroux

“You, me, and a cup of tea.”

Unknown

“But indeed, I would rather have nothing but tea.”

Jane Austen

“A cup of tea is a cup of peace.”

Sen Sshitsu VX

“Wherever you are drinking your tea, whether at work, ina café or at home, it is wonderful to allow enough time to appreciate it.”

Thich Nhat Hannh

“Have a cup of positive-tea.”

Unknown

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”

C.S. Lewis

“Teatime is a chance to slow down, pull back, and appreciate our surroundings.”

Letitia Baldridge

“Rainy days should be spent at home with a cup of tea and a good book.”

Bill Watterson

“Making tea is a ritual that stops the world from falling in on you.”

Jonathan Stroud

“Some people will tell you there is a great deal of poetry and fine sentiment in a chest of tea.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

“A cup of tea solves everything.”

Unknown

“There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.”

Henry James

“There is something in the nature of tea that leads us into a world of quiet contemplation of life.”

Lin Yutang

“Better to be deprived of food for three days, than tea for one.”

Ancient Chinese proverb

“I am in no way interested in immortality, but only in the taste of tea.”

Lu T’ung

“A great idea should always be left to steep like loose tea leaves in a teapot for a while to make sure that the tea will be strong enough and the idea truly is a great one.”

Phoebe Stone

“Tea should be taken in solitude.”

C.S. Lewis

“The spirit of the tea beverage is one of peace, comfort, and refinement.”

Arthur Gray

“The ‘art of tea’ is a spiritual force for us to share.”

Alexandra Stoddard
Tea History & Culture

Women’s History Month: 3 Women Who Shaped the Tea Industry

March 18, 2018

March is Women’s History Month. To celebrate, we’ve profiled three women who made a big impact on the history of tea. So sit back and give thanks for these three ladies while sipping your afternoon cuppa:

1) Catherine of Braganza 

Catherine of Braganza | Public Domain

Today, we almost instantly associate tea with England. But it took one woman, Catherine of Braganza, to introduce the beverage to England before it could become so ubiquitous. Catherine, a Portuguese princess, married King Charles II of Great Britain in 1662. Per the BBC, When packing for her new life as Queen of England, Scotland, and Ireland, Catherine made sure to include loose-leaf tea. Tea was popular in Portugal among the upper class, and Catherine enjoyed sipping it daily. However, tea was not so prevalent in England yet, and was used more as a medicinal herb than a social drink. That changed when Catherine arrived. As the public yearned to emulate their new queen, Catherine’s social tea drinking habit became more popular, and we can certainly give her some credit for England’s major tea habit today.

2) Penelope Barker

Penelope Barker | Public Domain

The Sons of Liberty get all the attention in the history books when it comes to tea and the American Revolution, but Penelope Barker deserves some recognition too. Barker organized the first ever recorded women’s political demonstration in America when she got 50 women in Edenton, North Carolina together to protest the 1773 Tea Act. The women signed a resolution to boycott British tea, using their buying power to protest Great Britain’s unfair taxation and the British East India Tea Company’s monopoly on the tea trade. In their resolution they stated, “We, the aforesaid Ladys will not promote ye wear of any manufacturer from England until such time that all acts which tend to enslave our Native country shall be repealed.” The event was called the Edenton Tea Party, and was widely mocked in London where a political cartoon depicted the participants as bad mothers and loose women:

A 1775 political cartoon from a London newspaper depicts a less than respectful version of a women’s political gathering, featuring lots of flirtation between men and women, and an unattractive woman at the helm. | Public Domain

3) Ruth Campbell Bigelow

Constant Comment creator Ruth Campbell Bigelow with her husband David. She developed the formula in the kitchen of her New York brownstone. | Bigelow Tea

A woman founded Bigelow Tea, one of the most recognizable tea brands in the country. Ruth Campbell Bigelow developed her version of the perfect cuppa in 1945. She blended black tea with orange rind and spices in her kitchen. It sparked “constant comment” among her friends, and when it became the first product of the Bigelow Tea Company, that was its name. The brew is one of many varieties that is still available today. The company operates out of its Fairfax, Connecticut headquarters, generating about $150 million in sales per year. Three generations after Ruth founded Bigelow, it continues to be a family-run business, with Cindi Bigelow in charge as President and CEO.

Tea History & Culture

3 Black Owned Tea Companies to Support During Black History Month

February 25, 2018

February is Black History Month. As we honor the impact that black Americans have made on our past, it’s important to support black Americans making an impact in the now. Here, we profile three black-owned tea companies. This Black History Month, while you’re reading the poetry of Langston Hughes, unpacking Black Panther with your friends, or re-tweeting Tarana Burke, sip on a cuppa brewed by one of these black-owned tea companies:

1 – Ellis Island Tea | www.ellisislandtea.com

Nailah Ellis-Brown is the owner of Ellis Infinity Beverage Company, which makes and sells Ellis Island Tea. The product is a hibiscus-flavored tea developed from a recipe originally crafted by Nailah’s great-grandfather Cyril Byron, a Jamaican immigrant who worked as the Head Chef on Marcus Garvey’s Black Star Line before opening his own catering company. Prior to his death, Byron gave the recipe for Ellis Island Tea to Nailah’s father with some very specific instructions: “This is to be sold, not told.” Nailah’s making good on her grandfather’s order. Operating out of Detroit, Michigan since 2008, Ellis Island Tea has enjoyed quite the rise. Ellis-Brown was named to Forbes’ prestigious “30 Under 30” in the Manufacturing & Industry category in 2016.   She was also featured on the TV show Queen Boss, a show like Shark Tank that focuses exclusively on African American female entrepreneurs. Currently, Ellis Island Tea can be found in Whole Foods, Meijer, Sam’s Club, and other stores. Check out this video on Ellis Island Tea from MSNBC:

2 – Jin+Ja | www.drinkjinja.com 

Owned and operated by Reuben Canada, Jin+Ja says its products are the way to “drink yourself healthy.” The core ingredients are green tea, ginger, mint, lemon, and cayenne pepper. It all started with a drink that Canada made for himself. He soon discovered that no matter what was troubling him—an upset stomach, a hangover, or sore muscles—the drink cured it. Once he researched the ingredients he was using, it all made sense, and he began to market and sell the drink so that others could benefit as well. Jin+Ja features a variety of products that are all billed as “deliciously powerful.” For whatever ails you, consider Jin+Ja. Take it from The Doctors, who recommended Jin+Ja as a great way to boost your health:

3- Me & The Bees | www.meandthebees.com

Me & The Bees is a lemonade/iced tea company founded by Mikaila Ulmer when she was just 11 years old.  Mikaila developed a recipe for lemonade based on her grandmother’s, then went on Shark Tank and received a $60,000 investment to kick things off. Now, at the ripe old age of 13, she’s the CEO of a company whose beverages can be found at Whole Foods, Wegmans, The Natural Gardener, and more.  Variations on the product include a Lemonade with Iced Tea, featuring black tea, flaxseed, cane sugar, honey, real lemon juice, and water.  A portion of all profits go towards organizations that work to save honeybees.  Mikaila was honored by Essence Magazine as one of 50 entrepreneurs to watch.  This young lady is certainly one to watch and celebrate over a nice glass of iced tea!

 

Tea History & Culture

10 Tea-Inspired Tattoos

December 31, 2017

If your love of tea is so devout that you want to have tea permanently etched on your body, it’s time to invest in a tea tattoo.  Copy one of the following tea-inspired tattoos, or use them as inspiration for an original design:

1.

This large ribcage tattoo honors the connection between the tea plant, camellia sinensis, and your cuppa, creating a chain linking the plant, a tea bag, and a tea cup.  Ink this large design down your side, on your leg, or down your arm if you never want to be without your favorite brew.

2.

This tattoo cleverly imitates the ring your teacup may leave on a table.  Coupled with the phrase “so it goes,” this design reminds you and an observer that nothing in life goes according to plan, that even alongside the most delicious beverage, there may be a stain.  But that’s life.  Ink this tattoo if you need a daily reminder not to sweat the small stuff.

3.

This cute couple tattoo celebrates you, your significant other, and your mutual love of earl grey, rooibos, or matcha.  If your relationship has deepened by comparing childhood stories, sharing dreams, and building trust over countless cups of tea, this is the perfect two-part tattoo for you and your love.

4.

This tattoo is perfect for the bookworm and tea lover known to “dive” into a world of mermaids and make-believe while nursing a hot cup of tea.  This tattoo will remind you to take time to escape into a beautiful world of fiction now and then.  Doing so may even help you understand the “real” world better.

5.

This tattoo conjures the history of the tea industry, when the East India Company drove the global trade of tea in the 17th and 18th centuries.  This tattoo interestingly merges a European teacup design with a Japanese-inspired wave made famous in Japanese woodblock paintings, artistically communicating the mashing of cultures that accompanied the global tea trade.  It also refers to the idiom “tempest in a teacup,” used when someone’s exaggerating or “making a mountain out of a molehill.”  If you need a reminder not to make a big deal out of small things, this tattoo’s for you.

6.

This knuckle tattoo is probably the least aggressive knuckle tat you’ll ever find.  Written in classic tattoo lettering, this tattoo will remind you that it’s always a good time for tea.

7.

This Alice in Wonderland-inspired tattoo is perfect for tea-loving fans of the famous novel. The design features Alice falling into a teacup, perfect for the literary nonsense genre to which the book belongs. Depending on who’s looking at this design and from which angle, either Alice or the teacup will appear upside down, encapsulating the idea that perspective dictates truth.

8.

This watercolor teacup tattoo follows the watercolor trend currently having a moment. Great if you want a pop of color with you always.

9.

This tiny tattoo is the perfect choice for a pinky.  It’ll remind you to raise your pinky if you want to look super classy whilst drinking your afternoon cuppa, and will keep any minimalist happy.

10.

And lastly, this Star Wars-inspired teapot and teacup design is the perfect tattoo for Star Wars geeks who think tea is a jedi-approved drink.  Choose this tattoo, and the force will be strong with you.

Tea History & Culture

7 Tea-Inspired Halloween Costumes

December 12, 2017

This Halloween, don’t just drink tea, dress up as tea. From different varieties of the beverage to teaware, the world’s most popular beverage is the perfect thirst-quencher to inspire your costume. Copy these ideas or use them to spark your own creative twist for a delicious way to trick or treat:

1) Boba Tea

Boba/bubble tea is a Taiwanese drink that mixes tea, milk, and tapioca balls (and sometimes fruit). The drink is immediately recognizable thanks to the tapioca balls resting at the bottom of the cup, which will also make it an immediately recognizable costume. For an easy DIY getup like this one, simply adhere black pom poms or felt cut-outs to a white dress, accessorizing with a headband made to look like a straw:

For a more involved DIY project, fashion your own plastic cup enclosure and fill it with balloons to emulate the tapioca balls, like this:

DSC_0006_1273677371248.jpg

And if you’re looking for a couples costume for you and your significant other or for you and your BFF to wow the crowd at this year’s Halloween soiree, follow this tutorial and go as boba milk and tea:

2) Tea Bag

For an easy DIY costume, go as a tea bag this Halloween.  Use brown leaves, twigs, and dirt to go as a black tea bag, or green leaves, moss, and shrubbery to go as a green tea bag. This guide will help you achieve the look.

3) I’m a Little Teapot

If you’re handy with knitting needles, crochet your little one a cozy teapot blanket and lid hat this year. If you’re more of a ‘click and purchase’ parent, consider this adorable number from Lights Camera Crochet. So cute you’ll want to drink your baby right up!

4) Mrs. Potts and Chip

The ultimate power couple in the tea world, Beauty and the Beast’s Mrs. Potts and Chip are the perfect twosome for a mother-and-child costume pairing this year. Hum “Tale As Old As Time” and drink a cuppa while you follow this DIY guide from Kick the Nest to get the look.

5) The Mad Hatter

This famous literary character hails from Alice in Wonderland and is known for his love of tea parties. Follow this tutorial from Woman’s Day or this one from self-proclaimed “geek lifestyle blog” cuttek.com:

6) Long Island Iced Tea

For a funny (and punny) tea-inspired costume, go as a Long Island Iced Tea. Wear your most stereotypically Long Island attire—ladies that means long nails and big hair, and gents that means over-gelled hair and tank tops—and then decorate your outfit with tea bags. Take your cue from this photo:

7) Arizona Green Tea

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Arizona Green Tea has a very distinct logo, featuring a pretty cherry blossom tree (right). A very recognizable brand, if you dress as a can of this tea, people will know what you are right away. Consider these outfit optionst:

Wear these leggings from Poprageous and you’re ready to party:

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Slip on this gorgeous dress, and you’re set:

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Or rock this oversized cherry blossom t-shirt from Arizona to bob for apples:

And check out Arizona’s other apparel options if you want more pieces of flair:

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Happy Halloween!

Tea History & Culture

What is Monkey-Picked Tea?

September 19, 2017

Tea leaves picked by monkeys? Sounds great! But not too fast… Most tea experts and sellers agree that monkey-picked tea is just a legend. Let’s unpack the history behind this cool idea that’s likely too good to be true…

According to a Chinese legend about ten centuries old, a monkey saw his master pick tea leaves, and then did so himself. How helpful.

Another origin story says that monks trained monkeys to pick tea leaves in the Wuyi Mountains to then be presented as a tribute to Emperor Qian Long.

Did this really happen?

Probably not.

Back in the 17 and 1800s, when Chinese tea first became of interest to Westerners, monkey-picked tea may have been but a sly marketing ploy. Tea picked by monkeys? How exotic! And more likely to drive up the price! After all, wouldn’t you pay more for tea leaves plucked by our animal friends?

According to James Norwood Pratt, author of Tea Dictionary and Ultimate Tea Lover’s Treasury, English explorer Aeneas Anderson bought the myth that monkeys picked tea on his trip to China in 1793, and is responsible for spreading the story all over Europe.

In truth, monkey-picked tea was more of a hyperbolic way to state that the tea hails from a place that’s hard to reach. So out of reach that it would take money-like skills to pluck it.

As put by the Tea Trekker’s New York Times-dubbed “Professors of Tea” May Lou Heiss and Bob Heiss, the designation of monkey-picked is given to teas that meet the following criteria:

“1) That this particular batch of tea came from a tea garden located at a very high elevation (the higher the elevation, the finer the leaf and the finer the tea)

 2) That the tea was plucked from tea bushes growing in difficult to reach places; ie. nearly inaccessible places that require the tea pluckers be ’as agile as a monkey.’”

The monkey-picked tea on the market today is almost certainly not picked by real monkeys, although one seller claims to have monkeys working to pluck the leaves that end up in your cup:

Firebox’s says its monkey-picked tea comes from “well cared for monkeys” that are “specially trained by their owners to pick rare, wild tea plants in inaccessible places, such as cliff faces.”

If you believe them, try it out:

Otherwise, know that monkey-picked teas simply come from largely inaccessible places.

Teavana, for instance, features a Monkey-Picked Oolong Tea, and makes no claim the tea is picked by real monkeys, describing the myth responsible for the name, and then clarifying:

“The legend lives on, now with the deft hand-plucking of the broken, evenly sized leaves that unfurl to create a light, orchid aroma, and the highest grade of oolong in the world.”

Try monkey tea to experience the flavors of difficult-to-pick tea, but beware fake news, which has been plaguing this product for three centuries!