Twankey Tea Takes on a New Role

Chinese worker rolling Twankey green tea using his feet.Not all tea was of equal quality during the 18th century. Two sometimes distasteful Chinese teas commonly found in London and Boston were Bohea (black) and Twankey (green).Both would likely be passed over by today’s savvy tea buyers. One reason for the appearance of these poor teas…

A Broken Teapot Fetches $800,000 at Auction

Gasps, and then applause filled the room as the gavel fell at Woolley & Wallis Auctioneers in the cathedral town of Salisbury last week when an unpretentious teapot—missing its lid and with a broken handle— fetched over $800,000, courtesy of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. Remarkably, the keen-eyed owner paid only $20 for the relic…

Tea Tables from Colonial American

George Wythe House, c.1750We often forget that Colonial America was immersed in the tea ritual on a scale equal to that of their English cousins and, consequently, tea tables were necessary furnishings in the fine homes located in major port cities.As European furniture makers immigrated to the colonies, they set up shops in Boston, Philadelphia,…

Can We Grow Tea in America?

Robert FortuneWhy can't we grow tea in America?  We can, and we now do. The history of tea planting in the United States can be traced to the years just prior to The Civil War.On July 21, 1857, Charles Mason, United State Commissioner of Patents, wrote to his seed suppliers in London to inquire about…

Steeping Tea in a Gaiwan

If I could own but one vessel for steeping tea, it would be a simple Chinese gaiwan—preferably porcelain and, if given a choice of sizes, always diminutive. I was reminded of its elegance on a trip to London where Juyan Webster made cup after cup of tea for me in her shop, The Chinese Tea…

British Tea: A Necessary Luxury

Is there a scene more typical of English life than that of a tea set? Charlotte Bronte captured that archetypal tableau in her 1853 novel Vilette when she describes an English tea and suggests the complex negotiation of social identity that revolved around the ritual of the tea table. “How pleasant it was in its…

Starbucks Takes the Steam Out of Teavana

In a surprise move, Starbucks announced on Thursday that all 379 Teavana stores, mainly based in malls across the country, have been under-performing and the Teavana brand will be shut down.The closings will impact 3,300 workers. Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson noted declining foot traffic at malls.“We felt it was an appropriate time to take the decision…