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…

A Treasure Trove of Tea Ware Buried 300 Years at Sea

Fishermen working off Vietnam’s Ca Mau peninsula in 1998 snagged their nets on a submerged obstacle. As their nets rose bulging with cups and saucers rather than fish, the men realized they had stumbled upon a treasure trove of centuries-old Chinese porcelain. They began dredging up and selling as much as possible before the authorities…

5 Teas to Tame the Tummy

Something healthy is brewing in the world of tea. I talk to people daily who are in search of teas to either help soothe upset tummies, aid sleep, lower blood pressure, or fight inflammation. These are people who, two years ago, never thought of entering a tea shop. What’s amazing is that some of these…

How Do You Eat a Scone with Cream and Jam?

When eating an English scone, what goes on first? The clotted cream or the jam? This is one of life's most pressing questions for students of tea traveling for the first time through the tearoom-filled villages of Southwest England and The Cotswolds, or taking tea at a stylish London hotel like Claridge's or Browns. You…

The Beautiful Foolishness of Things

"Meanwhile, let us have a sip of tea. The afternoon glow is brightening the bamboos, the fountains are bubbling with delight, the soughing of the pines is heard in our kettle. Let us dream of evanescence, and linger in the beautiful foolishness of things."This is just one of many serene scenes painted for us by…

Frank Lloyd Wright and The Book of Tea

Phoenix Hall, Uji, Japan c.1052. Photo by Bruce RichardsonHow did the Book of Tea help inspire architect Frank Lloyd Wright? The first siting of a Japanese building by Wright happened not while touring Japan in 1905.The setting was the Japanese exhibit at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair.The Japanese pavilion (Ho-o-den), modeled after an 11th century…