Tea and Food, Tea Retail


Well, there’s big news in this neck of the woods, and it’s about Jamie Oliver. He’s big news indeed in The City of Onkaparinga, South Australia.

Let me start by saying I love Jamie Oliver. Right back to The Naked Chef, I’ve enjoyed all his programmes. Jamie at Home is a favourite, and it must be said that The Devotea Homemade Hot Chocolate that we serve at some markets owes an awful lot to his Christmas Special recipe.

He’s a brilliant ambassador for good food and has made massive strides toward improving the food at schools across the globe.

Sure, I find some of his programmes a little basic. Take 30 Minute Meals. If you can cook, you can automatically make a great meal in 30 minutes. If you can’t, you’ll spend 29 of those minutes trying to find the right-sized pan and wondering if buckwheat is different to polenta. I have about 100 cookbooks – people love to buy them for me – and I think the one time I have actually used one in the last two years it was Jamie’s British Menu.

In my 2007 book “1001 Nights in the Trans-Arabian Corporations Boardroom”, I wrote a short story inspired by something Jamie said. In the story, at an international Egg and Chips cooking contest in the future, all the chips are grown in test tubes. No-one knows what a potato is. The winner pulls a master stroke in making a chip out of an actual potato.

Directly inspired by Jamie.

So, I’m a fan. I’d like to shake his hand. I’d like to invite him ’round for dinner with us. I think the Queen should knight him. “Go Jamie!” etc.

Our local shopping centre has been chosen to host a pop-up version for one year of Jamie’s Ministry of Food. And the self-congratulation has started.

We’ve been chosen from 170 applications around Australia. According to the gushing of our local dignitaries, it’s because we have great local produce and the local shopping centre management offered free premises.

So, let’s look at that.

Yes, we do have great local produce. Yes, the local shopping centre is large and has been rarely fully tenanted since a major makeover a few years back. But I’m sure of the 170 applications, approximately 170 offered free digs.

What it comes down to is that: have any of these guys actually seen “Ministry of Food” on TV?

We’ve not been chosen because of these reasons at all. We’ve been chosen because they have data explaining that we are a bunch of idiots who can’t cook.

Ministry of Food is never sited near a picturesque Greek village where the locals spend all day making wonderful dishes. It’s never sited in the middle of a fine dining district. It’s sited where the clueless idiots are.

Listen, Jamie, I’m on your side. Get out there and educate the uneducated masses. Open a swag of ‘Fifteen’ restaurants, one of the best social initiatives ever.

But not Ministry of Food here! If anyone here in our district needs to be told that spinach is better for you than takeaway yiros; that reheating a frozen lasagne is just rubbish, that a pie and a six pack is not a seven-course meal, then it’s not because they don’t have the information. It’s because they don’t want to hear it.

Damn you, Jamie Oliver, you’ve conspired with our local council to promote our community’s stupidity, in order to get more traffic at the local shopping centre. There are a zillion places more needy.

I know that part of it was the City of Onkaparinga convincing you we can all barely operate a can opener and spoon shop-brand tomato soup substitute into a microwave-friendly bowl, but to be honest, given some of their decisions, you can trust their judgement like you’d trust a paper rowboat. One look at their unreadable logo and signage should tell you that.

So, it’s got my dander up. I’ve got a good mind to counter this by moving to Essex and opening a tea shop. Last time I was there the local were using teab*gs. It’s about time someone showed them the loose leaf light.

I wonder if I can get a free shop? The Devotea’s Ministry of Tea. Coming to a town near you.

And believe me, it’s pukka.


Tea and Food, Tea and Life, Tea Stories

Bridging the Cultural Divide

Tea varies.

There’s no doubt that I’m reluctant to drink sweetened green tea with milk. But if I hailed from the region of Karakalpakstan in Uzbekistan, I probably would make it that way.

Rancid yak butter, tea, salt and water may make a delicious beverage if one is from Nepal, but I can’t say I’m keen to try it.

But closer to home, there are cultural divides within the tea community. There’s the “No Milk, Ever” brigade versus the “Milk Always” team. The “Sugar In Tea Is An Abomination And You Will Burn In Hell” syndicate versus that “I’ll have three, and make ‘em generous” lot.

Generally, these groups can get along, but there’s one that I always find interesting here in Australia: the revulsion that some people feel for the concept of Iced Tea.

I CAN understand those people who feel revolted every time someone over 5 years old writes or says “Ice Tea” rather than “Iced Tea”, because it’s just plain ignorant and wrong. But I am fighting a losing bottle as ALL of the multinational conglomerates call their Ready To Drink products that, and I guess they are the new arbiters of the English Language.

When talking to people about Iced Tea, one of the common themes is for detractors to refer to it as “cold tea”, to suggest that it is tea that has gone cold, as opposed to a brew specifically made to be cold. I suspect that not just in Australia, but in Britain and New Zealand and a few other places this might be so.

We find at markets that kids are more than willing to order it. We serve it unsweetened, but with sugar syrup on the side that they can help themselves to. The syrup pours quite slowly and they tend to add about 2 teaspoons of 50/50 sugar syrup, so about 5 grams of sugar. The same sized cup full of cola would be around 35 grams of sugar.

Of course, keen twenty-somethings in full hipster mode drink it unsweetened over ice, but then hipsters always do stuff like that specifically to annoy me. I waited years to be old enough to wear cardigans, and the minute I was, all these young folk started to wear them and drink tea, making me look like I am just a Vespa and a brown shoulder bag away from a mid-life crisis of age-denial.

But there is a fair proportion of people we talk to that are revolted by the thought.

Sometimes we can sway them with a sample.  Sometimes we can’t.

Thinking about it, I wonder if the problem in the USA is reversed. “I only drink hot tea when I’m sick” is something I’ve seen a bit from those quarters.

When we were sick as kids, my mother would dissolved a teaspoon of Vegemite in boiling water, add a teaspoon of margarine, pour it into a bowl over ripped up white bread and pronounce it “Vegemite Soup” as a sort of cure-all.* In that context, it’s hard to imagine willingly having that when one is not sick. Given that it’s closer to the Nepali Tea mentioned above than the way I normally drink tea, I am imagining that these Nepalis are virtually illness-proof.

So, I am left to ponder: what’s harder?

Selling hot tea to Americans? Selling iced tea to Aussies, Kiwis and Brits?

Or just the act of taking any person outside their tea comfort zone?


*I might admit to having made Vegemite Soup for myself at times. It’s actually delicious.




Tea and Food, Tea and Life

Baked Goods: Usage and Abusage

Look, you guys, I love you all, but in the words of today’s generation: you’re doin’ it wrong.

By ‘you guys’, I mean Americans. The whole lot of you.

You might find this hard to take, but I’m writing this because I care about you.

You have some wonderful things like the Statue of Liberty, Brian Cranston, a mayor called “Nutter” and marshmallow fluff in a jar, but in other areas it’s not so good.

In amongst the splendid hospitality and much love that we found in the USA last year, we couldn’t help but notice that when it comes to baked goods to accompany tea, there was some serious deficiencies. Even in really good places.

Let’s start with terminology.

The word “cookie”. An excellent word- if you are under three years old.

Seriously, how childish is that word? The damn word is ‘biscuit ‘. As soon as one’s vocabulary reaches the level where “Johnny wanth bithcut. PLEATHE!” is possible, then ‘cookie’ should be extinguished from the tongue of a child. If the word ‘potty’ has ceased to be used then ‘cookie’ should go as well.

There is some argument that cookie is not a childish diminutive of “to cook” but in fact drawn from the Dutch word for little cakes. If so, here’s a tip: if you are tempted to take a loan word into your language, avoid Dutch. It is the singular most appalling language in the world.  A mangy fox with tuberculosis choking to death on a rabid hamster makes a more attractive sound that a Dutch person ordering a pizza. Netherlands has an incredibly high rate of English language proficiency, and it’s easy to see why: even they hate it. There is a special dispensation for the word ‘Speculaas’, but other than that, the Dutch language is dead to me.

Now as far as the biscuits themselves go, you guys do them well. Keep up the good work.

Now we move on to the mistake you guys make when instead of calling biscuits ‘biscuits’, you call something else ‘biscuits’. Something rather unpleasant that you try to hide with gravy at breakfast.

It’s important that every culture have at least one breakfast food that guarantees a stroke by fifty, and you guys excel yourselves at providing a whole raft thereof. In that context the “biscuits” are probably the least offensive thing on the plate.

So what are they? They are almost bread, almost damper (I mean the Australian campfire bread ‘damper’, not ‘more damp’) and basically a mildly edible spoon for gravy. I realise you do have to give them a name. I suggest you call them ‘OHaPoMS’, which is an acronym for “Overly Hard, Poorly Made Scones”.

And that brings us neatly to scones. Which rhymes with “upons” unless you are from certain parts of the UK where regional dialects and/or class alters this.

So, here’s the thing about scones. Look at this quick table and see how you are doing it wrong.

  • Correct: Light and Fluffy. Incorrect: Like chewing on a desiccated doorknob.
  • Correct: Round. Incorrect:Triangular.
  • Correct: Served with jam and whipped or clotted cream. Incorrect: Served with jam and ‘dairy wip’.
  • Correct: Size about the circumference of a teacup. Incorrect: Bigger than my head.

Most of what passes for scones in the bits of the USA we visited are not only offensive but virtually an offensive weapon. And this is true of ritzy 5 star places as well as Bohemian little tea shops.

Guy, you do tea pretty well- if one goes to the right places. But between making some baked treats poorly and giving daft names to others, it’s a bit of let down.

Let me help you out here.

I have a theory that part of the problem is that “lemonade” is a part of many scone recipes. And lemonade in the USA is, for some reason, not a fizzy drink like it is in the rest of the world. The fizziness is part of the rising process.

Here’s one of the simpler versions from Lady Devotea’s extensive list of scone recipes: Just mix together 6 cups of self raising flour, 2 cups of actual proper  cream, and 2 cups of ‘Sprite’ or other fizzy lemony soda. Add a pinch of salt, form into a sticky dough, rest for 5 minutes (the dough, not you), cut out with a floured glass and bake on a tray spread just far enough apart to almost touch when they rise. I have no idea what temperature to bake them at using that confounded Fahrenheit system, but they can be baked quickly at a medium temperature, or for a better result, slowly at a lower temperature. Take them out when they almost start to colour.

15 minutes and a teapot full of Lord Petersham later, you’re doing it right. You can spend some of that time whipping actual cream with some icing sugar and real vanilla extract.

There you have it, America. Think of this as an intervention. You can recover from this. But it will take time. And love. And quite a bit of baking and eating.

Luckily, I’m here to help.





Tea and Food, Tea and Life, Tea History, Tea Stories

The Collective Minds of Tea on the 7 Great Stories

This is the final entry in my “List Week”. Seven Lists in Seven Days. If you’ve been reading, you have my thanks. If you haven’t – what’s wrong with you?

According to a famous work by a certain Mr Booker, there are just seven stories in literature, and all books follow one or more of them.

As a finale to my week of lists, I present my take on the seven great stories. For each, I have selected a blog post from Tea Trade – where my own blog is hosted – to represent that story. And I limited myself to just one of my own.

It’s my list based on Booker’s list. Here we go:

Story 1: Overcoming the Monster . My great friend and fellow Beast of Brewdom Geoff Norman is the master at this. He starts with the intention of writing a review and ends up with fantastical dream sequences, odd imagery and incredible nonsense. His writing is like a fairground ride and I never miss it. This one is actually a kind of a review of some of our teas, but it’s pretty hard to spot. Guan Yins, Tigers and Lords, Oh-My!


Story 2: Rags to Riches. Plenty of money has been made in tea and much of it by famous people or companies. Here, the always-interesting Xavier looks at some lesser known entities.  All it took was one ship

Story 3: The Quest I originally thought I might sneak one of my own blogs in here, but I remembered Jo from A Gift of Tea starting one of her Scandalous Tea Blogs with Bringing tea to the People and Bringing People to Tea. A worthy quest indeed.

Story 4: Comedy . Yes, I thought that has to be me. I am the resident clown. And then I remembered a piece by Jackie, one half of the team behind Tea Trade. It was a comic reply to one of my more scathing rants. And so, here’s A reply to “Burning down the Tea House”

Story 5: Tragedy Of my many friends on Tea Trade, Katrina is one of the more accomplished. Her Tea Reader is an excellent book to own (Whoever has got my copy, I’d like it back.) She does not blog overly often, but is unmissable. As a resident of Boston, she was confronted last year with tragedy, and shared it with us all via the post Boston Strong 
Story 6: Rebirth For this one, I’ve strayed slightly towards ‘birth of a new generation”. I love to read Jen’s pieces, they have a simplicity to them that is an antidote to those of us who try to be too clever at times. I make no apologies for the fact that this features one of our teas. In fact, I’m thrilled about it – it’s a piece that I love. A Persian Princess Moment

Story 7: Voyage and Return And so we come to the end of the list, and it’s an interesting one., There are many voyages that we can take. And so I’ll share one that sticks in my mind, my piece Taking Tea With The Buddha, because the voyages it contains are layered.

 I’ve loved List Week. I thank you all for the many comments, shares, likes and such. Let’s do it again, soon!

Service, Tea and Food, Tea and Life, Tea History, Tea Retail, Tea Stories

My 12 Best Blog Post Titles What I Wrote*

The Devotea’s List Week. List 4.**

I love a great title.

I find inspiration in titles. Many of my favourite authors go for brilliant, somewhat far-out titles such as Philip K. Dick (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”, “We Can Remember it for You Wholesale”, “Flow my Tears, The Policeman Said” ).

Or the clever puns and references of Terry Pratchett. (“The Last Continent”, “The Fifth Elephant”, “Going Postal”).

And mostly, the greatest booktitleer of them all, Robert Rankin: “Raiders of The Lost Car Park”, “The Antipope”, “Sprout Mask Replica”, “Nostradamus Ate My Hamster” and the greatest book title ever: “The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of The Apocalypse”.

And so, when it comes to my own blog, I like to offer a great title to each post.

I’ve looked through all 209 on this blog and about 40 on some others, and decided to come up with my eleven best. Why eleven? The last list I did was Eleven Golden Permissions , and that was well regarded, so I figure eleven must be a charm. And then I couldn’t decide between two, so I made it an even dozen.

Here they are, as a countdown

12: Context and the Art of Slurping Your Own Tea This post covers one of my constant themes: the conflict between blogging about tea and being a seller of tea. The title is loosely based on the form of the book Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.
11: We Might Have Started the Fire Obviously a nod to Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire”, it talks about how people of all ages are doing their bit for the loose leaf tea revolution!
10: I Sent Scented Sencha to Santa The title is just alliterative, and the post talks about the difference between ‘flavoured’ and ‘scented’.

9. Creeping Like an Effing Squirrel. I read some rubbish that one Alexander Neckham had written about wine in the 1200s, and it sounded remarkably like the rubbish the wine folk still say now. So, over on Beasts of Brewdom, I had some fun with it, constructing a short dialogue between a waiter and a pretentious wine lover.
8: Friends, Romans, Countrymen: listen up you load of bludgers This is quite an odd post. The title comes about as I start by theorising that if Shakespeare had been early Australian, he would have written things differently (for example, “done to death by slanderous tongue” could have been “the big-mouthed arsehole got what was comin’ him” ), before eventually reviewing my friend Katrina’s book Tea Pages. And it’s possibly not a traditional review.

Not a bad list so far. Only mildly self-centred. But that’s unlikely to last.

7: “Arise, Sir Devotea.” Beep. Beep. Beeeep! This is about the premise that I should be knighted for services to tea, and why this will not happen. The title refers to a dream in which it does. I manage to throw bit of tea history into this happily- self-serving rant.

6. Bo-lay! Pu-Eh! YES! NO! MAYBE! :find aged teas damn confusing. I even found the post confusing. The title is a reasonable reflection of this. The post is worth a read for the invented tea title (Oingo-Boingo three-quarter fermented Emperor’s Donkey’s Golden Leg) and its shot at wine drinkers.
5. Brown Owl and The Fortress of Evil . I was going for an Enid Blyton-like title here.The post itself is a gripping exposé of how a shameless organisation that is supposed to be helping children prepare for life teaches them to use teab*gs. It’s a scandal and I’m expecting a Pulitzer prize for this one.
4. My Kettle Just Heard From My Pot’s Lawyers This is a post in which I talk about opinions within tea, about how we all should perhaps be less opinionated. Of course, most people found this hysterical coming from me, which is why the title references an old cliche about hypocrisy.
3. My Own Private Finnvitka A blog about doing it your own way. The entire blog was inspired by the old Norse word “Finnvitka” and the title is pinched from the film “My Own Private Idaho”.
2. An Oglio Of Impertinence This is one of my favourite posts ever. It talks about coffeehouses in the 1600s, the Women’s Petition against Tea and Coffee, and the joys of connecting to other tea lovers on line. The title is a direct quote from contemporary sources about coffeehouses.

And finally, my favourite: I come to praise Tea, Sir, not to bury it . A pun on Shakespeare’s “I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him” and one I’m damn proud of! The post itself suggests that using teab*gs is clear evidence that cafés and restaurants don’t care, so you might as well go somewhere else.

*For those of you who didn’t get the title of this post, the “what I wrote” bit was a running gag by the pioneering English comedians Morecombe and Wise. Ernie Wise was portrayed as an egotistical, thwarted playwright who always used the phrase “A play what I wrote” . Quite fitting I think.

** This is List Four of “Lord Devotea’s List Week” a spectacular week of lists that will be spread over the Beasts of Brewdom and Lord Devotea’s Tea Spouts blog. 

Tea and Food, Tea and Life

8 Things Only Tea Lovers Understand

The Devotea’s List Week: Number 2

If you love tea, you have no doubt discovered some joys that non-tea drinkers just don’t get. Here’s a list that will have you nodding your head.

Waiting is a joy. The idea that the one to five minutes that it takes you to brew your favourite is somehow ‘wasted time’ is a nonsense. Savour the aroma, clink the cups, rustle about in the biscuit tin/cookie jar. Make a pyramid of sugar cubes.

Or just think. These little spaces between pouring the water and drinking the tea are golden moments to think and reflect.

You can dress for tea. Lavazza Coffee adverts may feature Al Pacino dressed like a homeless drifter for that caffeine-buzz street cred, but you can dress up for tea.

If you like. It’s not compulsory, but you can. And in virtually anything.

Tea has specific companions. There are specific accompaniments to tea. Tea Cake. Crumpets. Scones. Having tea effectively gives you permission to scoff one or more dainty edibles. The whole concept of “Morning Tea” or “Afternoon Tea” encompasses food.

Tea brings us closer. It is quite difficult to keep an argument going when the tea comes out.

Try it sometime. It’s a circuit breaker.

Tea offers you familiarity. If you’re in a strange city, or meeting with people you’ve never met, that sip of a tea you’ve always loved or a new one that impresses you helps you to relax. Aaaahhhhh!

Tea makes you feel better. You all know it does. Settle your nerves, or a fluttery stomach. Overcome lack of sleep or too much sleep. The opposite is also true: having no tea makes you feel worse.

Tea has changed the world. It doesn’t matter which bit of history you are interested in, over the last thousand years or more, you’ll find tea in there. Having a profound effect. China. England. Japan. India. Not always for the better, but it has changed whole civilisations.

And some of the world’s biggest trouble spots are those with little or no tea. Co-incidence? I doubt it.

Tea connects us. All over the world, people are reading this. Tall, short, rich or not so rich, religious or atheist, gay, straight or something else, whatever skin colour you have, town you live in or hat you choose to wear, everyone reading this is connected by tea. Most of the people I call friends are people I have met through tea.

Tea is community.

And there you have it. A simple list, feel free to add a few of your own in the comments.

*This is List Two of “Lord Devotea’s List Week” a spectacular week of lists that will be spread over the Beasts of Brewdom and Lord Devotea’s Tea Spouts blog. 


Tea and Food, Tea and Life, Tea Retail, Tea Stories

More Excuses, More Tea

My friends, my blogging has slowed to a crawl.

I could make many excuses, but I think the simple truth is my need for sharing my bad temper and sarcasm is being assuaged in other forms.

There’s Facebook, where a quick twenty words can elicit a great response. There’s the blog I’m writing for someone else, which I have a free hand to make as appallingly rude as I see fit. There’s magazine articles, although I have to tone it down a bit there.

And there’s “real life”, which provides a few choice opportunities.

And there’s the field of tea writing itself, which can be full of excuses. Or just the absence of anything to make excuses about, by simply not mentioning things. You know, reviewers not writing reviews on bad tea, tea stories that leave out unpleasant truths etc.

This week, I have many tea-related things to write. For example, I have finished the last part of a small eBook. Stay tuned for news on that one.

I also am crafting a poster for a food fair, that has to say in a nutshell “If you are walking around with a cup with of teab*g tea, bring it here, we’ll sling it in the bin and upgrade you for $1″.

And so I find myself writing a blog about the blog post I will be writing, possibly next week. Just before the one about the ebook I mentioned two paragraphs back.

I’m building the anticipation, and so, I can compare myself to a cup of tea. It’s knowing it’s in the cupboard. The whistling of the kettle. The dancing of the leaves. The pour. The aroma. All this leads up to the tea itself.

And so, right now I am building your anticipation for my next post.

So far, I think I’ve got the pot out, and rinsed it. Now to add the leaves of anticipation: my next post will be critical of many tea “information” sites. Some of them friends. And it will not be a pleasant subject; but one of the darkest stories ever in the history of tea.

Last week, a quote from these very pages was used by Capital Teas on Facebook. Capital Teas put a quote in the shape of a teapot on Facebook once a week, and leading up to mine was Gladstone, George Orwell and Douglas Adams. Apart from being neither as famous or as dead as those three, I was quite chuffed. Especially the last two.

Especially the last one. I have devoured everything Adams ever wrote, and right now, I”m thinking of Deep Thought.

Deep Thought was a computer, designed to work out the answer to the question of “life, the universe, and everything”. After centuries of calculations, it arrived at the answer: Forty-Two.

The problem was, of course, that even though they had the answer, they needed to know what the actual question was. And Deep Thought had designed another computer, far more powerful, to work out the question.

In a similar vein, my next blog will be about the question. But here’s the answer, as far as I can see.

Greed. Envy. Power. Pride. Inhumanity.

You can smell the leaves right now. And there’s some bitterness. Some astringency. And hopefully, some anticipation.

Tea and Food, Tea and Life, Tea Stories

Tea: Not Playing Second Fiddle

No verse can give pleasure for long, nor last, that is written by drinkers of water. (Horace)

My friends, this is it. This is the blog you need to share with your friends, your colleagues, your enemies, your competitors, your relatives. It’s the point where tea takes front and centre stage. It’s rightful place.

No more Mr Nice Guy. It’s time to deal with this:

“Tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world, after water”.

It’s something you hear a bit. But you also hear people say it about coffee and occasionally beer.

No longer should we tea drinkers be prepared to merely defend this statement against coffee or beer. But let’s start with that.

Let’s look at coffee. It’s the easy one to check.

I analysed a lot of data on production via the United Nations. Whilst there are some fascinating tidbits (who knew Portugal had 40 hectares of tea-production in 2011?) the numbers over the last few years have been fairly consistent.

When you use this ratio:

Amount of Coffee Required Per Cup/Amount Produced : Amount of Tea Required Per Cup/Amount Produced

over the last few years the typical result is 50:51

So the implication is that about two percent more cups of tea are drunk than coffee. Not a huge margin of certainty.

But we add two other factors: (a) coffee is more likely to be used as a flavouring and not drunk than tea (b) even if only a tiny portion of tea drinkers re-steep, that’s still more cups of tea. No-one resteeps coffee.

Whilst we must be vigilant, it’s clear that tea is ahead: IN YOUR FACE, COFFEE as those madcap youngsters say these days!

As to beer, beer can kiss my backside, as we cultured Australians are wont to say. Well, most Australians are more likely to say things to beer like “I love you, mate, you’re my best friend” but the fact is the Kirin Beer University (The most credible data source since The Ponds Institute, IMIO*) gives an annual production figure in liquid form that works out to a tenth of the liquid results of all that tea.

So, I’ve dealt with coffee. I’ve dealt with beer.

Now let’s deal with water.

You see, I don’t accept that “water is the most widely-drunk beverage in the world”.

Before any nay-saying, harrumphing or tut-tutting commences, let me say I have no problems with nine out of ten of those words.

It’s the word “beverage”.

Let’s consult a few dictionaries to define beverage:

The Oxford: (chiefly in commercial use) a drink other than water.
The Free Dictionary: Any one of various liquids for drinking, usually excluding water.
Dictionary.com: any potable liquid, especially one other than water, as tea, coffee, beer, or milk 
Wordreference.com: a drink, usually other that water

In fact, of the top ten search results I got, only Merriam Webster did not specifically exclude water, and as regular readers know, I consider Mr Webster one of the most ridiculous men ever to walk this planet, so I am quite prepared to accept that they are wrong in this, and virtually everything else.

So, water is out. Disqualified. Not even in the race.  Coffee is credible but behind, beer is lost in the rear view mirror. Here’s the sentence you need to learn:

Tea is the most widely-drunk beverage in the world.

 QED: Tea is the most widely-drunk beverage in the world.







*IMIO = In my insincere opinion.

Tea and Food, Tea and Life, Tea Retail, Tea Stories

It Appears I’m It

Thanks to a post started by  Lu Ann, author of The Cup Of Life, I’ve been tagged by Jen at International Tea Moment (@teamoment on twitter) to answer a stack of impertinent questions and then link some other poor soul to do the same.

1) First, let’s start with how you were introduced & fell in love with the wonderful beverage of tea.

I’ve blogged on this at length. The basics are that at home it was Lipton (teab*gs) while I was growing up, sometimes Tetleys or Bushells, but Twinnings multi-coloured variety packs were my first introduction to the concept that tea could be special.

2) What was the very first tea blend that you ever tried?

After the aformentioned unmentionables, I actually remember the day I tried Twinnings Orange Pekoe. I remember trying really hard to taste the orange! I was about 10, and my orange allergy had not been identified by then.

3) When did you start your tea blog & what was your hope for creating it?
I started making videos about tea, then created an occasional blog to pour scorn and abuse on various tea aspects I felt involved injustice and a lack of ethics. I found that whilst making these points, I could be very funny – in a nasty, biting way – and so I created this blog to highlight this. I also created Beasts of Brewdom, a blog for when I wanted to be even more appallingly behaved.

4) List one thing most rewarding about your blog & one thing most discouraging.
I love comments on  the serious moments in my blog. When someone spots something layered in 43 levels of humour and invective and says “wow!” . I also randomly receive tea and postcards via the post, which is a big thrill. I also love meeting people in person.

The most discouraging thing is comments along the lines of “I agree, know a lot about the subject, here’s some links to my hair removal site”. I want to track down these spammers and be rude to them. With a stick.

5) What type of tea are you most likely to be caught sipping on?
Mostly hearty blacks. At the moment my favourites are Persian Princess and Aussie Ginger Chai, but oddly enough, my current absolute favourite is Doke Silver Needle. I can’t get enough of that.

6) Favourite tea latte to indulge in?

Not sure what this question means. Matcha Latte is an abomination and the work of the devil. Chai made with powder is grounds for justifiable homicide. An Aussie Ginger Chai, brewed with honey and milk on the stovetop, is heaven. It’s a blend we are extremely proud of.

7) Favourite treat to pair with your tea?
Lord Petersham Tea and Downton Abbey on the television. THERE IS NO FINER PAIRING!

8) If there was one place in the World that you could explore the tea culture at, where would it be & why?
Portland, Oregan. I want to see The Lazy Literatus in his natural habitat.

9) Any tea time rituals you have that you’d like to share?
MILK IN FIRST! If you take milk that is. Warm the cups. Laugh while you are making tea if you can.

10) Time of day you enjoy drinking tea the most: Morning, Noon, Night or Anytime?
I restrict my tea drinking to the period extending from five minutes after I get up to taking the last cup to bed with me.

11) What’s one thing you wish for tea in the future?
I just want an endless supply of money. That way, we can fly around the globe forever, taking tea wherever and with whomever we wish. That’s not to much to ask, is it?

– Who do you tag?


Nicole from Amazon V (and more)
Katrina From Tea Pages .

Xavier from Teaconomics


Wow, that was fun, I don’t often get the chance to relentlessly talk about myself.

Tea and Food, Tea and Life, Tea Stories

Boho Means Rhapsody, I hope.

Today is Melbourne Cup Day, which is one of the biggest days in the Australian Calender.

It used to be about horse racing; these days there is more interest in third-rate imported celebrities, drunken rich men and above all, women who exude an odd combination of shiny clothing, copious quantities of vodka and what appears to be a dead bird stapled to their head.

As horse racing fans, we long ago learned that special days are really not that special to attend. It’s the anonymous weekends at a suburban track that offer the most actual horse racing fun.

For at least 25 years, Lady Devotea and I have gone to lunch somewhere on Cup Day. It’s a public holiday in Victoria , but not here in Adelaide.

 And today will be interesting.

We are going to Boho.

Boho is a re-envisioned pub with a vaguely Art Deco and theatrical theme. Some of this is just plain weird: as an example they have those mirrors that make you look either amazingly thin or incredibly squat and toad-like in the Gentlemen’s toilets. Although I’m told they only have the thinning ones in the Ladies.

Apart from a riotous New Year when we accidentally ended up there until, well, well into the New Year, it has mainly been somewhere we have gone for High Tea*. The high tea used to be every Sunday, I note it’s now just once a month. That’s sad.

And it’s a nice high tea. Deco decor, 7 or 8 loose leaf teas to choose from, nice food, pleasant ambiance, all couches and armchairs.

The thing that worries me is that Lady Devotea once took me there for a birthday lunch. And after a great meal, I asked for tea, just to be told they had teab*gs only.

When I queried this – I may have used the phrase “lying scumbag” – I was told that whilst they did have loose leaf tea on the premises, all the staff who knew how to use it were having a day off. Seriously, what is wrong with people these days?

In the end, the guy bought me all the equipment and I made us tea at the table. A happy ending, I think.

So, I’m worried that today, amidst harried staff dressed as jockeys, sweeps, cardboard whips, outrageous hats, drunken patrons and the dull roar of excitement as 24 superb world class horses thunder across the screen in one of the world’s great races, I might not be able to get the quality of tea I demand.

I hope I can. I think it will be a fantastic day, but it’s probably best if it doesn’t end with me being escorted from the premises.

And if I’m told I can only have a teab*g, then that’s a certainty.

*Purists will say this is Afternoon Tea, not High Tea. Get over it. Pass me a scone.