Oriental Beauty Oolong: The Name, the Science, the Tea

Since teas from Vietnam are spotty as far as purity and quality go, I was excited when TeaHaus was able get the oolong Oriental Beauty. But interestingly, many things come to play with this tea—its potentially problematic name, the role of pests, the source, and of course the quality of the tea itself. Here's a … Continue reading Oriental Beauty Oolong: The Name, the Science, the Tea

Grief, Tea, and the Disruption of Ritual

Back about a lifetime ago, in February, I bemoaned that my year had begun badly. Understatement of the year.  As 2020 winds down amid global tragedy, my own year brought not only the pandemic, but personal loss. I've written about bereavement in years past, but this time it's different. The social structures that help cushion … Continue reading Grief, Tea, and the Disruption of Ritual

Is It Afternoon, High, Low, or Full Tea?

Americans—used to having tea or coffee whenever we want—might be a bit flummoxed when visiting countries that have more codified ideas about when and where it's proper to have tea or coffee, or if additives are customary. Even here in the States, an Ethiopian restaurant once asked my husband to please try their coffee black … Continue reading Is It Afternoon, High, Low, or Full Tea?

“Tea”—May the Odds Be Ever in Your Favor

It's interesting, although rather unfortunate, that "tea" means so many things in English—and I view our often limited choice of words as one of the (many) downfalls of our language. (For example, I can think of several words and descriptions for "snow" but the Sami have 180 and the Scots apparently some 421!*) The Oxford … Continue reading “Tea”—May the Odds Be Ever in Your Favor

The Quality of Tea Both Shapes and Reflects Social Standing

In this season of gift-giving, gift-giving itself can be filled with landmines. Will they like it? Will it demonstrate that I know what they like? Will it demonstrate that I have good taste? Because a gift can say as much or more about the giver than the recipient. Indeed, most, if not all, of what … Continue reading The Quality of Tea Both Shapes and Reflects Social Standing

Murder and Demons and Tea, Oh My!

Guest post by Alissa, of Lettered Madness Following up on her previous look into tea superstitions, Alissa brings us a few death-by-tea accounts. Sadly, aside from the yōkai, these are true stories, demonstrating that tea—lauded for its health benefits—can sometimes be the vehicle for poison and treachery. Murder and Demons and Tea, Oh My! You’re … Continue reading Murder and Demons and Tea, Oh My!

Tea on the Road: A Japanese Teahouse and Garden

There's something extraordinarily peaceful about meandering through a Japanese tea garden.Thomas Heyd (2002) aptly captures this feeling: In the tea garden, the express intent is to induce reflection and thoughtfulness on the way to the teahouse and its ceremony. . . . [the] ideas behind the history of Japanese gardens crystallize in the notion that … Continue reading Tea on the Road: A Japanese Teahouse and Garden

Tea on the Road: The Erie Canal and Locktender’s Tea

If you wander around upstate New York long enough, you're bound to come across remnants of its extensive canal system. The Erie Canal, begun in 1817, was an engineering sensation, designed by two engineers that didn't have much experience and requiring eighteen aqueducts and eighty-some locks (or lift locks). The restored 1844 aqueduct—or water-filled bridge—over … Continue reading Tea on the Road: The Erie Canal and Locktender’s Tea

Alcohol + Tea = Delightful!

Tea cocktails are quite the rage these days, with good reason! Tea's complexity and astringency—along with the dizzying number of teas available—make it a natural when combined with alcohol. (See my earlier post about blending.) However, there is nothing 21st-century about using tea in boozy drinks. Granted, the word "cocktail" was coined as recently as … Continue reading Alcohol + Tea = Delightful!

Tea in South Korea Had a Circuitous History

So much about tea is actually really depressing, both now and historically. There are conflicts over land, wages, profit, quality, quantity. Issues of weather and natural disasters. Combine those problems with how tea has been used to wield power—during times when tea is highly esteemed and even when it's disparaged—and you quickly realize how a … Continue reading Tea in South Korea Had a Circuitous History