Tea Time In Norway

In Norway there was a good degree racial tension between the native population of Norway and the immigrant Muslim community, due both to lack of interaction between the two and harsh media coverage. The anti-racism organization decided to alleviate the problem with something as simple as a cup of tea.  They literally had Muslim families invite Norwegians into their homes for a cup of tea. As Norwegians found the home to be very important and with tea deeply rooted in Muslim tradition – it was the perfect way to link those to groups. And it worked – the tea parties opened up over 200 Muslim homes to over 1000 Norwegians. The idea was to get the two groups to get to know eachother. The anti-racism organization used even used Facebook to link Muslim families to Norwegian families that wanted to meet and have tea, and even added to their popularity. They even got the Queen of Norway to participate in this movement for tea time. The “Tea Time” campaign received national media coverage and resulted in the Norwegian government giving the anti-racism center funding to continue the program. There was even real change in attitudes towards Muslims : a national survey found that negative attitudes had dropped by 40 % after the campaign.

With that kind of progress, it is amazing what tea between friends, or soon to be friends, can accomplish. If it works in Norway, why not anywhere else? If not in the global perspective, maybe just in everyday life. Maybe that cup of earl grey can help restore communication with old friends, that green tea to help you really talk with your mother or even that chai to figure out those parts within yourself that you don’t understand. Anyway you go about it – there is safety in a cup of tea and it is meant to be used. So have a cup. Take in that steam with the good and when there is nothing but the dregs – hopefully the bad is gone too – at least mostly.

Tea Time In Cafe Mortel

Death is a funny subject. We all know it happens – it’s a part of life, or rather after life. People don’t really talk about it – it is not the sort of thing you talk over tea and cake about, but John Underwood is trying to change that. He is trying to start a movement. He is trying to set up a movement of “Death Cafes”. As he says,

“In continental Europe, there’s a tradition of meeting in a public place to talk about important and interesting subjects…So there’s a café philo, which is a philosophical cafe, and a caféscientifique. And Bernard Crettaz, he’s a Swiss sociologist, [who] set up a café mortel, or death cafe.”

He is not talking about setting up literal tea houses where you get tea and only talk about death – he wants to set up sort of events where people can be free to talk about what they so often don’t.  Underwood held his first death cafe a year and a half ago in his  basement. He set tea and cake, and his mother, who happens to be a psychotherapist, helped facilitate the event. Since then, he’s been working to launch this idea as a worldwide movement. He described the event saying,

“When people sit down to talk about death, the pretense kind of falls away, and people talk very openly and authentically, and they say things in front of strangers which are really profound and beautiful”

Underwood has set up a blog and guidelines to putting up a “death cafe” and now more than 60 death cafes have been set up all over the world, from Ohio to Australia.  It is a way for people to start  talking about death in ways they havent before – to be open about it. It makes people think as Underwood says,

“When we acknowledge that we’re going to die, it falls back on ourselves to ask the question, ‘Well, in this limited time that I’ve got, what’s important for me to do?’ “

and that’s something to think about over that cup of tea. So maybe next time you have a cuppa with a friend you can talk about what you don’t normally talk about. It doesn’t have to be death necessarily, but something you’re holding back. Everyone has pain and everyone has their own troubles – but it doesn’t mean they have to be shoveled down. That tea set, or that place in you’re favorite coffee shop, or in your mother’s kitchen can be a safe place for you where you can open up and drop the pretense. So cheers to Cafe Mortel, maybe there’ll be a death cafe near you.

Tea Technology – Innovative Tea Cups

There is something lovely about that perfect tea cup – that one that you always want to be clean and will use again and again. Perfect size, perfect shape, perfect warmth. Inside that cup lies your home, your safe place. It is the cup from where your creativity flows forth, It is the cup that tells you that everything is going to be okay, in that cup is ritual and solitude – the tea cup is about as important as the tea you put in it.

Everyday innovators are making a better tea cup, another cup to add to your collection that can take tea drinking to the next level. Here are some examples of people making that new perfect tea cup,


First there’s the Dunk Mug with biscuit holder, top left image, that allows for you to store biscuits or other treats within the cup you are drinking from. How many times do you eat cookies with your tea? It practically goes with tea, especially on cold winter nights – getting the warmth and sweetness at the same time.
The top right image, MyCuppaTea, has a color guide along the inside of your mug so that you know what color the tea should be according to the type and according to the amount of milk or creamer you put into the tea. It’s like the interior design method of tea drinking.

Another interesting thing is the self stirring tea glass, bottom left, where if you swill the glass a little, the ball at the bottom of the glass will mix tea – no spoons required. It is an elegant and interesting design. There is even, now, glassware that you can write on. You can write to-do lists, bottom middle, on your glass mug when you start thinking about your day and then erase it later.

Last but not least, there is a mug, bottom right, made in an elliptical shape and with the handle shaped differently so that the center of gravity closer to the hand – making it easier to carry and move around.

The possibilities are endless and new innovative tea cups and mugs are happening every day. So next time you’re drinking that perfect cup of tea in that perfect cup – maybe think about experimenting with some more experimental mugs – or even do some designing yourself – that cup of tea could be even more awesome than it already is.

Where In The World Is That Tea From?

Tea is not just something nice to drink, but an international commodity. Have you ever wondered where that tea in your tea cup came from?

Tea was first grown and cultivated  in China. Before long, it spread to Japan and then was transplanted far and wide. Today, tea is cultivated on lush hills, high mountains and coastal regions in a geographic belt that runs from the Tropic of Cancer to the Tropic of Capricorn. The great teas of the world are grown and processed in a handful of countries: China, India, Japan, Sri Lanka , and Taiwan.

In China,  tea is mostly produced  in the southern half of the country. They produce some of the world’s rarest green teas, but they export mostly black tea. On an interesting note, the oldest living tea tree resides in China where it is said tea was discovered in the 5th century A.D. Though China exports a lot of black tea, many other teas are present and exported from there.

India produces more tea than any country in the world. Home to many major tea-producing regions, the most celebrated are Assam, Darjeeling, and Nilgiri. From these regions come some of the most exquisite teas in the world.

Japan is renowned for producing green tea and elevating its consumption to a fine art.  Its three major tea-growing regions are Shizuka, Kagoshima, and Mie. Shizuoka, between Mt. Fuji and the Pacific Coast, is the country’s most prolific tea-growing region. The Republic’s Spring Cherry and Big Green Hojicha are perfect introductions into the world of Japanese Green Tea. Bright green powdered matcha – a rare Japanese tea — is the star of the traditional Japanese tea ceremony. It is also commonly used around the world in making green tea themed desserts, like Green tea Cheesecake or Green tea Cupcakes.

The hills of the island of Sri Lanka ,formerly Ceylon, are planted with some of the world’s finest teas. Most Ceylon tea is  black tea, fully oxidized. Tea was once a rarity in Sri Lanka – until the coffee crop failed and British grocery magnate Thomas Lipton converted coffee plantations to tea-growing in the 1880s.

The island of Taiwan was once known as Formosa, so you will hear the teas grown there still referred to as Formosan oolong teas. Cultivated at relatively low altitudes, most all of the teas processed on the island become oolong, a semi-fermented tea.

So next time you’re enjoying that cup of tea, whether oolong, green, black or herbal – you can know where it’s from and how that cup fits in the global picture.



The Business of Tea

Tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world next to water, and can be found in almost all U.S. households. It is the only beverage that is commonly served hot or iced, anytime, anywhere,  and for any occasion. On any given day, over 160 million Americans can be found drinking tea. In 2011 Americans consumed over 65 billion servings of tea or over 3 million gallons. About    85 % was black tea, 14% was green tea, and the remaining amount was white tea and oolong tea. 2011 marked the second consecutive year that the US imported more tea than the UK.  Approximately 85% of tea consumed in the US is iced. The tea  industry anticipates strong, continuous growth over the next five years. And that is only in the US, there are tea drinkers all over the world.

Much of the world’s tea is grown 3,000 – 7,000 feet above sea level, between the tropic of capricorn  and the tropic of cancer, where there is mineral rich soil. The top five exporters of tea are Kenya, Sri Lanka, China, India, and Vietnam. China’s tea exports decreased last year, by 2.8 percent.   The output reached 1.75 million tons , with 3,10,000 tonnes shipped overseas.  China’s tea exports have reached more than 120 countries and regions worldwide. Because the value of Tea exports increased last year so did the price, which ultimately had an effect on the exports. Yang Shengjun, Vice-President of the China Chamber of Commerce of Foodstuffs and Native Produce, says that China will work to nurture major tea producers and boost their ability to innovate.

Tea, no matter where you are, is important both with how much you shell out for that tin or cardboard box and how much the global market is paying. Tea is green in more ways than one.

Alert the Papparaz-Tea

Have you ever wondered what tea celebrities were drinking? It’s not just coffee and juice cleanses in Hollywood – tea is all around.  In Washington, DC  Barack Obama drinks tea in the morning instead of coffee. He is frequently seen drinking tea during interviews and meetings and is also said to especially like berry flavored teas.  Robert Pattinson has been photographed drinking tea on set, Elton John enjoys tea to the point of collecting antique tea sets, and Craig Ferguson is said to be a habitual tea drinker.

Lady Gaga, in particular, is a renowned tea drinker, notable for bringing tea cups with her as accessories, saying that she prefers to drink tea from china. She has been rumored to be the face of a major tea company for almost a year. Jenifer Aniston, Victoria Beckham, and Oprah are among famous people drinking Green Teas and and Herbal Tisanes for weight loss and antioxidants.

Tea drinking is even featured on the T.V. show The Mentalist by the character that Simon Baker plays, who reports that in real life he does enjoy a “good cuppa tea”. So whether you can afford to have a collection of over 100 exotic teas like Sean Parker, a co-founder of facebook and napster, or just have that one heavenly tin of tea you shell out the big bucks for, know that in terms of tea loving, you’re in good company.

Tea 2.0 – high tech infusers

The way we drink tea is getting more and more innovative nowadays – it isn’t simply the choice between using tea bags, a strainer or drinking it loose. There are tons of gadgets and tools to either make tea drinking easier or even just to make you feel like a secret agent. There are particularly a lot of infusers.

P.T. design is currently in development in making this beast:

a tea timer and a tea steeper at the same time. Talk about streamlining tea – not doing that awkward dance of

“is my tea ready?”

“I don’t know… it kind of looks dark enough…”

“I’ll just take it out” –

when this tea is done. it is done. More information can be found at the website here.

Brewed daily also lists a lot of tchotckes that you can brew with in this article including a manatee that brews your tea

as well as a shark tea infuser

a variable temperature electric kettle,

and even plastic collapsable tea strainers

and this blog post is really just the tipping point. There are tons of ways out there to make that cup of tea cuter or even more innovative.  Though there is nothing quite that old strainer you always use, or that good old kettle on the stove – it might be the time to to let out that tea drinking secret agent in all of us.


Tea is still partying hard

When one thinks about having a nice tea party nowadays, it seems like the art is dead. Even searching the phrase “tea party”, brings up all sorts of politics as Republics in the US has usurped the word. But tea is still being celebrated all around in all sorts of events.

In Old Salem in North Carolina, as explained in this video


they are having an event in their museums to celebrate chocolate, coffee and tea through hands on demonstrations.

In Vacaville, California  Unity of the Valley Spiritual Center will host its annual tea from 2 to 3:30 p.m. on March 23 at the church, 350 N. Orchard Ave.,Vacaville. The public is invited. Tea, scones, tea sandwiches, sweets and a presentation on the history of tea is planned.

In Oakland, as it turns out, there is a tea house within a museum, written about in this article.

So, there are tea happenings and tea parties all around. Despite how it feels, you haven’t outgrown tea parties and neither has anyone else. There might be some events happening in your area, if you can parse through all the politics. So get out there, meet some tea fanatics and wear awesome hats while eating those little sandwiches. Drink proper tea in pretty cups and learn about the history. Tea is great alone, but even better in company.

British Airways team up with Twinings to make airplane friendly tea

As seen in this article on etravel Blackboard Asia edition,  British Airways have teamed up with Twinings to create a tea that will taste as good up in the air as it does sitting in your home. British Airways serves 35 million cups of tea per year  and they commissioned the tea  to be a part of their £5 million investment in new products to enhance their customer’s experience. This special tea is a “blend of Assam, Kenyan and high grown Ceylon tea that withstands the conditions at 35,000 feet, such as the water which boils at only 89 degrees centigrade and the affect that the reduced air pressure and humidity has on flyers taste buds”. People in first class can choose from Twining’s line of whole leaf silk pyramid tea, including teas like English Breakfast or Jasmine Pearls.  Now I guess, if flying British Airways, you can have high tea, literally.