Taking Tea with Mackintosh

The advent of the tearoom came about in 1875 when Glasgow tea retailer Stuart Cranston hit upon a simple idea for encouraging customers to sample his teas. He provided tables and seating for 16 people at his Queen Street store and advertised a cup of China tea “with milk and sugar for two pence–bread and…

Who Was Earl Grey?

Earl Grey is a name that has been synonymous with tea drinking for over a century. It ranks at the top of the list of the five most recognized teas in western society. It is, after all, the favorite flavored tea in the world, and its derivatives are legion - Lady Grey, Earl Grey Lavender,…

Seven Steps to Making Good Tea

At the conclusion of my lectures, I am often asked, "Can I heat my tea water in a microwave?"  The straight answer is "yes."  However, my question to the inquirer is, "Will the use of a microwave add to your sense of ritual?" Most tea professionals will forego a microwave in favor of a proper…

The 6 BEST TEAS of 2020

As 2020 drew to a close, I looked back on the exceptional teas that came my way throughout the year - even as gardens experienced temporary lockdowns and shipments from Asia encountered delays. While I was unable to visit gardens in person, I continue to search for teas that represent the classic taste profile from…

What Is a Dish of Tea?

It was a common occurrence in the Colonial era to receive an invitation to “share a dish of tea.” In 18th century Boston or Bath, a dish of tea referred to a teacup or tea bowl, containing black or green tea, placed on a saucer.

Look Deeply Into Your Cup of Tea

Plucking leaves in Guizhou China. May 21 is International Tea Day, a day when we believers in the communal cup of humanity gather to spread the good news of our favorite beverage. Teaists are all part of this colorful cult of tea that has simmered worldwide for over a thousand years. Although Westerners are new…

When Monkeys Picked Tea

I received a call a few years ago from an MTV staffer who was producing a story on "manly teas." He had been offered a monkey-picked oolong in a tea store. He was fascinated about this rare tea and thought it would be appealing for his male audience. "How do they train monkeys to pick…

Is Bottled Tea Actually Healthy?

You can't turn the aisle in the supermarket these days without running headlong into an endcap stocked with bottles of RTD (ready-to-drink) green tea.  Bottled tea is a $2.2 billion consumer market. As the popularity of these beverages continues to skyrocket, my customers ask if they are really getting the health benefits they expect. The…

Is Chinese Tea Safe To Drink?

I was in Shanghai between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, just as the first mention of a mysterious virus was beginning to appear in the news. I returned two weeks before travel from China was banned and I continue to stay in touch with Chinese industry officials as well as with importers here in America.…

Tea for Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson was an early “foodie” and his great passion for food and drink included Chinese teas, both black and green.   According to the archives of Monticello, Jefferson’s financial records and correspondence show consistent purchases of tea and provide valuable information about the kinds and amounts of tea he and his family drank. The few…

Waiter, My Tea is Blue

Japan's entrance on the world tea stage began as soon as her trade gates were pried open by Commodore Perry before our Civil War. It didn't take long for the United States to become Japan's best tea customer. The rise in Japanese tea imports, beginning in 1859, was due to the direct transpacific shipping routes…