Monday, October 31, 2011

'It's alive! ... And it wants a cuppa!'

For Halloween today, Bigelow Tea reflects on the tea habits of Boris Karloff, the actor who portrayed Frankenstein's monster in the first films of that classic series. They've got some other wonderfully incongruous photos — the one above is Karloff with tea and toast on the set of "Son of Frankenstein," 1939 — in the post here.

Also check out this one, of Karloff demurely taking tea in the studio makeup room. And this one sipping tea with co-star Colin Clive.

In fact, as Gregory Mank reveals in his book Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff: The Expanded Story of a Haunting Collaboration, Karloff's insistence on breaking for tea annoyed some of his co-workers — including Bela Lugosi.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A well-steeped new 'Book of Tea'

I have as many copies of The Book of Tea as I do the Tao Te Ching, which is saying something. My favorite of the former is a tiny pocket version, which has been a handy companion on the train or waiting in various queues. It's always a great read because really, as James Norwood Pratt quotes an acquaintance in a review of a new edition, "The Book of Tea is not about tea."

Pratt reviews the new Benjamin Press edition of the book in the current issue of Tea Time magazine. I recently saw a copy myself, and it's a fine book not only on its century-old merits but mostly because of the introduction by noted tea writer Bruce Richardson.

Richardson provides more biographical detail on The Book of Tea's author, Okakura Kakuzo, than I've seen before, and artfully links his life story as a mediator of East-West cultures to the overall opening of the East at the end of the 19th century. The scholarship is impressive, including crucial details of the Japanese exhibits at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The picture that emerges of this Japanese son trying to explain his culture to Americans is poignant and moving. It deepends the experience of reading his text on tea — and everything else it's about.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

'The Big Tea Theory'

It's Thursday, which means it's "Big Bang Theory" night! Hopefully Sheldon will be offering friends a cup of tea.

Because that's what he does when friends are feeling blue ...

And it's not optional ...

Watch here (embedding forbidden).

Sometimes, he needs some, too ...

Watch here (embedding forbidden).

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tuesday tea tunes: What about iced?

As the All-Music Guide correctly states, "Dodgy never was taken seriously." This daft Britpop sideshow did, however, deliver this decent enough track stating the obvious: "There's nothing worse than cold tea..."

Monday, October 24, 2011

Links: Wolverine! Old folks! Argo Tea! Energy!

Some recent tea news links ...

— The UK doesn't have its own branch of America's new Tea Party, but one city council has had to cool off a brewing controversy over tea and budget cutting. According to this story, the Liberal Democrats in East Sussex demanded that the complimentary tea and cookies served at council meetings be scrapped because of the 600-pound annual expense. That got some residents boiling mad.

— It's highly likely that the people in the above story are all old, because Britons under 25 don't care so much about tea anymore.

— Actor Hugh Jackman has opened his own shop, the Laughing Man Coffee & Tea, in New York City. Proceeds from the shop benefit his Laughing Man charity.

— The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel published a good feature about the Bigelow tea plantation in South Carolina, including great photos and some intriguing recipes.

— And Time magazine profiled Chicago-based business Argo Tea!

— And this is not specifically tea-related, but here's an inspiring article from Tiny Buddha about "How to Accomplish Anything (by) Leveraging Collective Energy." A few salient points on this list got me through midterms. Word.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Autumn reflection

Another autumn!
Young chestnuts just keep smiling
even though they are astringent inside.
This is no different from me.
— Tameie

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tuesday tea tunes: Trippy tea

Tuneful bit of retro guitar pop from Liverpool's Shack (Noel Gallagher loves 'em!), about a lodger who spikes the singer's "Cup of Tea" ...

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Census: tea on the rise, coffee down

Would you like a little data with your tea?

The U.S. Census Bureau has released its 2012 Statistical Abstract, a fascinating round-up of tables and figures from numerous government agencies relating to a wide variety of facets of American life.

A New York Times story about the report mentions one of its findings: "People drank more tea and less coffee..."

When digging into the "Food Consumption and Nutrition" pages, we see specifically what that means. Annual per capita consumption of tea rose steadily from 6.9 gallons (ha, I can do that in a week or two) in 1990 to 9 gallons in 2009. Coffee, meanwhile, slipped from 26.8 to 23.3, respectively. Take that, Starbucks.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tuesday tea tunes: Leaves not of grass

"Autumn Leaves" is a popular standard, and even though Johnny Mercer's take on the lyrics refer to the gold and red delights now showing up on trees around town, we can at least pretend for a moment that it refers to our tea leaves. Here's a cool instrumental version of the song to help — featuring the fluid pianist Bill Evans and his trio:

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Geek stuff round-up: 'Star Trek,' robots and physics

A cluster of nifty tea accessories has collected in my in-box and bookmarks, results from semi-regular surfing for new, cool stuff. Here are some of my favorites:

Picard's tea cup
Over at Make, someone has posted three-dimensional models of the tea cup magically replicated for Capt. Jean-luc Picard in the series "Star Trek: The Next Generation." If you "make it so," it comes out like this ...

Robot infuser
On a perhaps related sci-fi note, a crafty artisan created these cute robot tea infusers, available here (update: actually, no, they're sold out for now, but you can contact the artist to request more). Yes, those arms are adjustable.

Beverage braces
I can't imagine who, other than stunt pilots and acrobats, might require this cup holder, but here 'tis nonetheless. Watch this video for a demonstration of centrifugal force as well as a crazy, no-spill tea/coffee gadget for those literally on the move ...

Extra, extra
The New York Times had a brief piece recently about Barbara Barry, an L.A. interior designer who's into tea and has created a couple of her own blends. Along the way, she mentions some intriguing accessories, including the fantastic strainer (she's holding it in the photo — it'll take a second look, believe me) as well as spoons, porcelain sets and Japanese tea ware.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tuesday tea tunes: Tea and conversation

This hip-hop duo from the Pacific Northwest, Blue Scholars, doesn't directly mention tea in these rhymes, beyond the title ("Evening Chai"), but their conversational flow feels like the kind of animated discussion you can have over a cup of evening tea ...