Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Tuesday tea TV: England is 'Tealand'

Here's a delightful short (20-minute) documentary about tea shops in London and elsewhere in England, called "Tealand." It includes chats with customers and owners (including the cool Time for Tea cafe in London).

Monday, October 29, 2012

For your periodic tea-ble

Making a good cup of tea is, like the baking that often accompanies it, truly an act of chemistry. So this beautiful set of teaware — fashioned from repurposed laboratory test tubes, beakers and such — blends form into function. Alas, it's art, not for sale.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tuesday tea TV: Death by tea cup

Real men drink tea. Anyway, here's Vin Diesel in "The Chronicles of Riddick," dispatching a bad guy with his tea cup ...

As one person says on the video's YouTube page, "They should sell a Riddick tea set. No one would mess with you."

Monday, October 22, 2012

A tea moment with Denise Levertov

Denise Levertov is one of my favorite poets, an insightful, usually accessible writer who tends to summon the divine — finding big revelations within life's little things.

Today's Writer's Almanac spotlights a poem of hers, "Sojourns in the Parallel World," that seems, to me, to sum up something about the tea moment — reverie, lost in one's thoughts, how crucial that process really is, and how it renews us, each time.

It happens "because we drift for a minute, / an hour even, of pure (almost pure) / response to that insouciant life," and then:

... when we're caught up again
into our own sphere (where we must
return, indeed, to evolve our destinies)
—but we have changed, a little

Morrissey: It's 'greased tea,' dear sir

Just a few weeks ago, I posted a Tuesday Tea Tune about Morrissey's "Everyday Is Like Sunday," and my lifelong puzzlement about the line, "Share some grease tea with me." (I'm not the only one wondering, for example.)

I stand corrected — and by the master himself ...

Morrissey was due to perform here in Chicago this weekend, but he's postponed that and a few other concerts this week so he can fly back to England to be with his ailing mother. Heaven knows I'm miserable about that, because he actually answered some interview questions of mine via email (the only medium through which he'll conduct an interview, as he claims to have been misquoted so often). So you'll have to wait for the rescheduled dates to read the Q&A over at my day job.

But I'll go ahead and share this with you now, because I asked him a bonus question — I thought I'd find out for myself — about that lyric.

His brief answer: "'Greased-tea,' actually. Tea in a cup that hasn't quite been washed so therefore has a slight film across the top. Nasty."

What a difference a 'd' makes. Now my cup is full.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tuesday tea tunes: Wouldn't say no

An Irish duo called the McGetigans put their tea cups front and center for a litany of all things they could do without — except tea:

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The history of tea: Going Dutch

In histories of tea, we read often about the origins of tea in China, about England's swiping of tea from China, about England's American colonies and our notorious harbor-steeping. Rarely do we get a good look at the direct relationship between the United States and China. Eric Jay Dolin's new book, When America First Met China, attempts to tell the story from a Pacific perspective rather than an Atlantic one.

One of the first ships to sail under an official U.S. flag was the Empress of China, sailing 18,000 miles to what was known then as Port of Canton in China.

Dolin also debunks a common presumption that it was English colonists who brought a taste for tea to these shores, noting:

In fact it was the [Dutch] colonists of New Netherland who first drank tea in America. And since they drank Chinese tea supplied from Holland, the Dutch colony is where America's infatuation with things Chinese began.

Thus when England took over New Netherland in 1664, transforming it into the colony of New York, the English inherited a community of tea drinkers. From that point forward the consumption of tea spread through the American colonies in much the same way as it had throughout England.

Read an excerpt of the book here.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Easing into the big hairy now

Ran across an amusing column from the other side of the globe — this piece in the New Zealand Herald, written by a rather dour-looking musician (dig his mug shot!) and effervescent with joy for the simple cup and its power to keep our feet on the ground. It opens:

Tea should be taken whenever it can be. It is what it is, and does what it does, better than any other consumable. "If you're feeling sad and lonely, there's a service I can render. Tell the one who loves you only, I can be so warm and tender." Although these are the words of that lyricist, Hal David, I feel these are words of tea to us, if tea had words. Tea, of course, is beyond words, as anything that boasts greatness is. In fact, tea is so great for improving the quality of one's life, I can't think of anything better. It basically eases you into the zone of the hairy now. ...

"The hairy now." The best part of life, the best part of tea.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Tuesday tea tune: 'Dem owna tea bread'

Here's another stretch for a tea-song connection. The tune is called "Earth a Run Red," from Kingston-based reggae singer Richie Spice (aka Richell Bonner) — read the story behind the song here — and it includes a noted lyric describing the young hustling lifestyle: "10-year-old a look dem owna tea bread."

Say wha? That story above explains this way:

Spice said he heard the 'tea bread' phrase "as a youth. Me never know what it is. Me think tea bread was you provide your own meal, til mi get to understand is a little bread."

Interesting. Here's the song:

Friday, October 5, 2012

Art in the tea leaves

Beautiful artwork, yes? Can you guess the medium?

It's made from tea leaves. Artist Andrew Gorkovenko created several scenes like this — scenes illustrating the origins of tea, or noteworthy images from a tea-producing country — from whole and ground black tea leaves.

The images were then applied to a particular bit of branding, adorning boxes of tea here.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Tuesday tea TV: Tea trucker

Here's a delightful, two-minute, slice-o'-life documentary about Jess, a refreshingly optimistic woman in South Africa who exited the rat race and opened her own tea shop. That's common enough — but Jess' place, Lady Bonin's Tea Parlour, is a trailer on the sidewalk (American urban gastro-hipsters know this as a "food truck").

This is the second edition of a filmmaker's innovative series called Art of Work, and I first saw it a while back on the Tea Guy Speaks blog.