We Might Have Started the Fire

Everything that Billy Joel has even done has been a spectacular success, apart from having a daughter with a supermodel that sadly looks like him and the very public way that same supermodel’s infidelity came to light via a helicopter crash. But other than those, it’s all been pretty good, and one of the more successful efforts was “We Didn’t Start the Fire”.

In it, he takes exception to a young person telling him that the fault that the world is going to hell belongs to his generation. As he himself has explained numerous times, this struck him as odd, as he thought the same thing about the previous generation to his.

But here on Tea Trade, I think I and others of my generation are willing to take some credit for the Loose Leaf Tea Revolution.

There’s no doubt that there have been many people fighting to get tea into the cups of consumers for several millennia. But I am specifically talking about the fight post-1950’s.

You see, one generation did drop the ball. Somewhere between my grandparents lot and my parents, tea bags went from tiny minority to the norm, with mechanisation, method and attitude swinging around behind the loathsome little bags of crap.

When we ran a shop that sold both great tea and excellent coffee, we noticed that tea missed a generation or two. Tea drinkers were almost exclusively over 45 or under 25. In between, there were almost 100% coffee drinkers. It seems the reaction to bad tea was to have no tea.

But I always loved the young people who came in, discussing weird intellectual stuff or art and drinking tea. It was great to see.

One of then was Aaron, also known on twitter as @warandpeace88 . Back in the day, Aaron had his own china teacup we kept behind the counter for him. It was jet black all over, which just goes to show that Aaron and his ilk were a new version of Beatniks, without the berets, bad facial fair and worse poetry. And yesterday, Aaron came along and helped us out on our market stall.

I love our market stall. It really doesn’t ever quite pay financially – it makes money, but not enough to cover the stress of preparation, which usually sends me into a meltdown, and with no Devotea Junior on hand yesterday.

Lady Devotea does not have an active role in preparation, because she is not really a planner at all. She loves to quote Freddie Mercury “If it’s planned, it’s boring” and just like that gentleman, prefers to leave such mundanities as organising everything ever to others.

However, when she gets going on the stall, she is unstoppable. She just flags people down and delivers, with passion, the “You will buy this tea” message directly into their brains, like something from a sci-fi film or a first class hypnotist, though immeasurably cuter and more stylish than either hypnotists or sci-fi brain-probing aliens are wont to be.

So with Lady Devotea and Aaron out the front, my role for the day was operating the espresso machine, dispensing hot tea and excellent coffee. Bit weird, as I normally take centre stage, but a fantastic and fascinating experience.

I heard Aaron talking about this very blog – he mentioned to one customer that he only reads three tea blogs – this one, Beasts of Brewdom and one by “some guy in Germany”- and recommended the first and last on that list as the essential places to start. Good advice, I thought.

Lady Devotea is brilliant at medical stuff, so she virtually prescribes tea to people on the spot: Gastric issues? Peppermint Plus! Can’t stay awake? January XXVI! Insane need for sugar? Brew an Aussie Ginger Chai with condensed milk and honey! Surfeit of little tiny cakes? Lord Petersham!

You name it, she gets it right. And she is brilliant with children, which is so helpful at a  market.

Yesterday, she offered an Iced Peppermint Plus to a girl of about three. The girl slurped the sample and asked for more! And got it. Then her mother asked for a sample. After one sip, the persistent little tacker wanted the rest of that cup, too.

In the same way that other little ones will pester for sweets, this wonderful little girl immediately demanded that her parents buy a bag of Peppermint Plus.

And proving that they are tremendous parents, they bought her a bag.
She had a little pusher with a doll in it, and the once the tea was purchased, dolly ended up with a 100 gram bag of tea on her head.

I ran after them and snapped the picture you see here.

“She LOVES tea” they explained, filling my soul with joy at the thought of this tiny new generation’s taste.

I love it when kids turn up with their parents and it’s the kids driving the household on toward better tea. Last market a South African family presented with three kids, who all bought a different hot tea, straight up, no milk or sugar, and then bought a bag each. The kids were most likely between 8 and 12 years old.

So there we were. I’m 47 today and Lady Devotea is around my age. Aaron is probably 34 based on his twitter name. And this special young girl was about 3. All of us, not allowing the indignities of the past to stand, but fuelling the fire of the Loose Leaf Tea Revolution.


Robert Godden

Certified Tea Nutter. Blender. Author of "The Infusiast" and Tea "Stories"

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11 thoughts on “We Might Have Started the Fire

  1. Yes, that’s a proper aww… rope the little girl in to help on the stall, get her to tell the story all round her kindergarten – start ’em young!

    The generation gap exists here in the UK too I think. Valid point.

  2. Fantastic. I am one in that middle region and definitely find myself an anomaly for my tea obsession. I am working hard to spread the word to the next generation in my own house. My 5-year-old routinely asks to inspect my tea collection, sniffing each tea to decide which suits her fancy. I am happy to say I am raising a tea snob.

  3. I wish my niece was as into tea as I am. I’ve tried almost everything…I have priceless (to me) child sized tea sets – nope, herbal teas in fun grown-up glasses – nope, BLENDED a tea just for her – pass. I’m at the end of my rope here. Any thoughts or do I just give up?

    I loved this post as I love all of them. Happy Birthday!

  4. I love this. ALL of it. I’m very proud to be a part of the Loose Leaf Tea Revolution, and I confess to raising a tea snob, too, Katrina. So glad you captured the little girl’s photo with her prized possessions. You are doing a wonderful job fanning the flames of this noble revolution!

  5. First, Happy Birthday! Second, my 5 yr old is also a huge tea lover. Can’t say I blame her I drank green tea all throughout my pregnancy and I am certain her addiction started there. So I too am raising a tea snob and I couldn’t be prouder. 🙂

  6. It is burning quietly as we type. I made mention on twitter last week that there was a line in the loose leaf section of the grocery store while the bagged tea aisle was empty.
    Tea for children has been a focus of mine, as you are aware, as well as the cultral connecting history such wonderful legends, stories and facts. Children are as pure as the unfettered leaf. How they are treated and with what care is what will produce the finest results. Lovely photo and wonderful blog.

  7. I think this is one of the first times you’ve written in such detail about your days at the market – and it is certainly a story to share.

    You gave a little insight here about what you do there, I thought your were just hawking 100g bags of tea – interesting that you are serving tea. Would love to know more about what you do to prepare for and actually do in you little market stall.

  8. Again, have a lovely, happy Birthday @thedevotea! Much enjoyed reading your account of a day at the market, it made me smile. The little girl is too cute too. Also; interesting to hear more about @warandpeace88 – I’ve been wondering who he was. Here’s to many more happy returns Robert, cheers!

  9. Many happy returns of the day @the_devotea and what better way to celebrate one’s birthday than with spreading the word about #tea – sounds like a totally tea-tastic day!! It’s wonderful how the communi-tea can come together but I’m doffing my cap to @warandpeace88 (hello again Aaron) for being not only a loyal customer of @the_devotea but going that extra mile to help at the market stall. Raising another cup of tea to you all. Huzzah!!

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