You see tea blends all over the place (for purposes of this article, I will include those “blends” that include non-tea substances). There are ones with marigold petals and ones with peppermint. There are some with dried pieces of apples and berries. Some have spices added such as cinnamon, black pepper, and cardamom. There are also blends that are all tea, mixing the right balance of a rich black tea from Sri Lanka with a milder black tea from Kenya or Nilgiri. But it’s pretty easy to create some of your own custom blends (believe it or not, in spite of the wide array of choices, you may not find a blend that suits you – sort of like shopping for shoes, neckties, hats, etc.).

All set to blend! (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

All set to blend! (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

1 Select Your Base Carefully

Your base will be a single tea, a blend of teas, or even herbals such as Rooibos and chamomile. And just like when you want to select the main color of your palette before painting a room, you want to select the basic tone of your blend. A green tea sets a different tone (often grassy, a bit bitter, and possibly flowery or nutty) than a black tea does (richer, astringent, malty, raisiny, etc.), and herbals are a whole different experience.

2 Select the Proper Flavors to Blend

This applies even if you are blending several teas together and not including any non-tea items. Blend the right teas together. Or blend in the proper flavorings. Part of being “proper” means being top quality. Part means being good flavor pairings. You can blend a milder flavored black tea with a stronger flavored one, a green tea having a more grassy taste with one that is more nutty, and some even say you can blend together different styles of tea (green with black or oolong).

3 Give Them Some Time

I find it’s good to let the blend sit a day or two. You might even want to shake the container once or twice during that time to make sure the flavorings affect things evenly. Of course, you can also do some ad hoc blending. We do this at home all the time. We’ll cut open some bags of Typhoo, for example, and dump the contents in a small bowl and then add a teaspoon of another tea, stirring them together and them pouring into the teapot. We find that English Breakfast Blend No. 1 is a great flavor enhancer, adding its bold bright taste to the Typhoo.

Some Blend Suggestions

  • Black tea with any of these: true cinnamon from Sri Lanka, cardamom seeds (crack their shell open slightly), freshly crushed black peppercorns, vanilla (slice the bean pod lengthwise and scrape out the seeds into the blend), cocoa (or even cacao), rose petals, dried berries.
  • Green tea (other than matcha) with any of these: citrus in either dried peel form or zest (grated fresh peel), lemongrass (gives that citrusy quality in a milder form and imparts a full mouthfeel – very pleasant), mint (preferably in the form of fresh leaves that you slightly crush), ginger (preferably in the form of fresh gratings off of ginger root), fennel seeds and licorice (don’t overdo unless you are a real ouzo fan), and jasmine petals (this is one item, though, that is better in the versions you buy ready made since the process of scenting the tea with the jasmine imparts a floral flavor that is more infused into the tea leaves than when you just throw some in with them at home).
  • Rooibos, an herbal, is good with any of these: cocoa (a personal favorite pairing), ginger root, peppermint (in oil form), coconut (shredded), saffron, and rose petals.
  • Tea Blend with Orange and Cinnamon: start with a top quality black Ceylon tea (about 4 ounces), add some diced orange peel (well dried) to suit your taste, and add in a half ounce of ground cinnamon, mix together, put into a storage jar, and let sit a day or two. Steep as you would any black tea.
  • Blend with Rose Hips and Lemon: put some crushed dried rosehips (that bulbous shape that forms after the bloom has died and the petals have all dropped – if you have roses at home, you can gather these after the bushes have finished blooming, or else you can get them at a store selling fresh herbs) and some dried lemon peel into a container, shake a bit to blend, and let it sit for a day or two. Infuse in boiling water for about 8 minutes. Full of vitamin C. You could have some as a nice non-alcoholic hot toddy.
  • Classic Masala Chai (Spiced Tea) Blend: the idea here is to start with a strong black tea (typically a lower quality tea in CTC form) so it will still taste like tea with the spices and milk added in, then add in various spices (typically cinnamon, black pepper, cloves, cardamom, cumin seeds, allspice, and nutmeg – each is best if you use the whole ones slightly crushed). Let the mix sit in its container a day or two, shaking it once or twice. Steep in boiling water in a saucepan for about 5 minutes, then add milk to the pan and let it simmer, strain into cups.

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

I have to admit that I was only vaguely aware of the Seychelles until recently and really only due to its reputation as a vacation destination. For those who also might not be that familiar with it, the Seychelles is a nation off the east coast of Africa that is made up of more than 100 islands. It’s a balmy place with photogenic beaches and, as a matter of fact, tourism is indeed the primary industry there.

The Seychelles are not really the first place you’d think of when you think of tea production, but then again you could say the same thing about the United States or England, two other unlikely places where tea is grown in relatively small quantities. Tea is indeed such a minor part of the economy there that it doesn’t even merit a mention in the country’s Wikipedia entry.

It’s actually not all that improbable that the Seychelles grow tea, given that Africa as a whole is one of the world’s top tea producing regions. Additionally, one Africa’s top tea growing countries – Kenya – is located directly to the west of the Seychelles.

While the population of the Seychelles is relatively small and tea production there is quite modest, it’s interesting to pause for a moment and note that its citizens can hold their own when it comes to tea consumption. On a per capita basis, they rank sixth among the world’s top tea drinkers, just after the United Kingdom, which is no small feat. Per capita tea consumption there averages just over four and a half pounds, which is about a pound less than they drink in the United Kingdom.

As for tea production, here’s a page from the government’s official tourism site about a tea factory located in Sans Souci, Mahé. As the description notes, “Established in 1962, this unit is responsible for growing and manufacturing tea in the Seychelles.” For more specifics, take a look at this article from the local press, which focuses on the Seychelles Trading Company and its SeyTe brand of tea, which is a mix of the locally grown product and imports from Sri Lanka. According to the article, tea growing in the Seychelles began relatively recently, in 1960.

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Your first reaction to the article title will be, “Who says I can’t enjoy green tea in the Fall?” And to that I say, “A host of tea experts out there.” Yep, they tell you that green tea is best when fresh, especially if it’s a first flush green tea. Which is usually harvested between March and May, depending on where it’s grown. And said to have a fairly short shelf life, again according to those experts. The reality is a little different. Meaning that yes, you can enjoy green tea in the Fall!

The Myth of First Flush Being Best

A bit of Dragon Pearl Green Tea while leaf peeping sounds ideal! (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

A bit of Dragon Pearl Green Tea while leaf peeping sounds ideal! (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

There’s no doubt that first flush teas (the first spurt of growth on the tea plants after they awaken from Winter dormancy) are special. They have a delicate flavor not matched by later flushes. However, that doesn’t mean those later flushes (2 to 4, depending on the tea cultivar and where they are grown) aren’t enjoyable. In fact, I have often found them to be even more enjoyable – stronger flavors and often totally different profiles. And there is a wide variety of green tea, and getting wider every day due to increasing demand.

Various taste descriptions (for green teas that don’t have flowers, fruits, spices, etc., added to them) of later flushes:

  • a slightly sweet taste with a mild nutty undertone
  • a distinctive nutty/oak taste (Superior Gunpowder)
  • a light taste
  • full and round, with honey like sweetness, mild astringency and notes of orchid (White Eagle Long Life)
  • Various types of green tea taste different, much like how different brands of chocolate taste different. Some taste nutty, others taste earthy, others taste like clear grass without the bite.
  • a full flavor and a satisfying light refreshing character (Gyokuro)
  • light, smooth, with reasonable depth and body (Sencha)

The Myth of the Short Shelf Life

Green teas will often store as well as black teas. Keep them in a cool place, in an airtight container (preferably a plastic pouch, not a Ziploc bag though, so you can squeeze out excess air before resealing), and away from light (unless the pouch is made of opaque plastic). You should be able to open them, take some of the dry tea leaves out for infusing, and then reseal the package (squeezing out excess air) without any degradation of the tea quality.

Bottom Line

Go for a richer flavor, infuse the tea properly (160°F for 30 seconds to 3 minutes, depending on the type of green tea – see vendor’s instructions or consult someone), and enjoy that healthy (or so the multitude of claims go) green tea anytime, including in the Fall!

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

I’ve made it this far in life without being completely sure what a crumpet is, though I have a general idea. I grew up in a region of the United States where Tastykakes were a popular snack food, including various flavors of a pastry known as Krimpets. While there seems an obvious connection between crumpets and Krimpets, the latter actually take their name from the fact that they are crimped and thus have indentations on their sides. But this contributed to my confusion over what a crumpet is.

The crumpet, as I discovered, is something like a pancake. Rather than rehash the specifics of what it’s all about I’ll direct you to a previous article that appeared here. I also found it interesting that a forum thread at a food site examining the differences between crumpets and English muffins had generated nearly 50 responses over the course of several years. Apparently, there are those who take their crumpets seriously.

Of course, this being a tea site, the proper question to ask is how – and perhaps when – did the crumpet and tea become a pair. It was only about a decade ago that I became familiar with tea and much less than that for the crumpet, and yet I can recall hearing the phrase “tea and crumpets” when I was just a kid.

The first reference I was able to locate dates all the way back to 1786, in a book called The Experienced English Housekeeper. It includes a recipe for those who would like “To Make Tea Crumpets.” It’s a pretty basic recipe that only runs to a few paragraphs but it suggests that the relationship between tea and crumpets was already well-established by then.

The first reference to the actual phrase “tea and crumpets” comes in 1808, in a novel called Miss Balmaine’s Past, by Bithia Mary Croker, a prolific English novelist who spent many years in India. In it, one of her characters settles down “in a roomy armchair to enjoy tea and crumpets.” The phrase turns up again in 1824, in Mornings at Bow Street: A Selection of the Most Humourous and Entertaining Reports which Have Appeared in the Morning Herald, by John Wight.

Of course, after that the floodgates were opened the and the uses of the phrase became too numerous to count. But let’s close with a snippet from the Irish poet, Thomas Moore, who immortalized it in verse:

Ye spinsters, spread your tea and crumpets;
And you, ye countless Tracts for Sinners,
Blow all your little penny trumpets.

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

National Boss’s Day is upon us, so it’s time to celebrate your boss with tea. Of course, some of you might not feel like celebrating. Bosses get a bad rap, sometimes deservedly. I’ve had some lulus over the years, but the ones that were good and from whom I learned a lot are the ones I celebrate today. And if you know any like that, I hope you take time to celebrate them, too.

One option: Queen Victorias Swiss Cottage at Osborne House on the Isle Of Wight (Screen capture from site)

One option: Queen Victorias Swiss Cottage at Osborne House on the Isle Of Wight (Screen capture from site)

What Is Boss’s Day?

This day, celebrated on October 16 in the United States, Canada and Lithuania, is when employees thank their bosses for being kind and fair throughout the year, strengthening the bond between employer and employee. The day has become somewhat controversial since it’s start in 1958 but is still increasingly popular. The originator was Patricia Bays Haroski who believed that young employees sometimes did not understand the hard work and dedication that their supervisors put into their work and the challenges they faced to do so. The day is now also celebrated (but not necessarily on the same date as the U.S.) in countries such as Australia, India, Ireland, and Egypt. The usual observation is to give a greeting card or other small token of appreciation.

A Tea Time for Your Boss

For those bosses who encourage you, take you under their wing, help you learn and grow in your job, understand the need now and then to attend to personal matters, and otherwise treat you with a certain degree of dignity and respect, you can repay a bit of that by treating them to a special tea time. Frankly, I’d recommend going to a local tea room. Whether your boss is male or female, young or old, dressed in a suit or that office casual look or even a set of Dickie’s, getting them away from the work environment for a little while will help them relax and unwind. In today’s business climate, that’s a very good thing to do.

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Each time I embark upon the writing of this column, I find myself getting a little nervous. After all, the supply of new tea books has to run out some time. Doesn’t it? Well, maybe it will at some point, but we apparently haven’t gotten to that point just yet. So let’s get on with it.

I don’t recall seeing many (any?) books about that picturesque tea-growing region of India known as Darjeeling. Yes, you know the one. But that’s about to change, as of next May. When we’ll be presented with Darjeeling: The Colorful History and Precarious Fate of the World’s Greatest Tea, by Jeff Koehler. Information is still a bit sparse on this one but among the author’s other books, for what it’s worth, are cookbooks focused on the cuisine of Spain and Morocco.

Tea and Downton Abbey seem to go hand in hand for some reason and so it’s probably no surprise that an enterprising publisher has chosen to capitalize on this. With the recently published Tea at Downton: Afternoon Tea Recipes From The Unofficial Guide to Downton Abbey, by Elizabeth Fellow. Which promises to “share some recipes from the golden age of England.”

Once upon a time the only sommeliers to be found were the kind who tended to the wine drinking types. But the times are changing and author Jennifer Petersen has commemorated these changes with Foundations of Tea: Tea Sommelier Journal: Taste, Taste, Taste, which was also released recently. As the publisher’s description notes, the book “is a comprehensive organizational tool for organizing and recording your sensory evaluations of tea. This forward-thinking journal provides guidelines for tasting various types of tea, steeping times and evaluations for any type of tea or herbal infusions.”

If you don’t know anything about Persian tea, then we’re pretty much in the same boat. If you’d like to know more about Persian tea, you might want to start with The Art of Persian Tea, by Farahnaz Amirsoleymani. In which the author “highlights the essentials of Persian tea culture: tradition, blending, & brewing the perfect cup.”

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

(Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

(Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

The last thing any tea vendor is in a position to do is dispense medical advice. And that includes passing along, either on their store site, their blog, or their social media sites, the many articles floating about the internet touting tea’s health benefits in curing/preventing everything from asthma to zits. Even articles that reference various medical studies or that are supposed to be written by doctors are a bit suspect. Tending to be the type of person that errs on the side of caution, I have avoided on this blog during my years as editor the temptation to do any more than say that such claims exist and that you should consult your doctor.

A big reason for my avoidance is also the litigious nature currently dominating in our country. A major tea brand(not the owner of this blog) had a class action lawsuit brought against them for the many health benefit claims on their packaging and web site. They were able to wriggle out of part of the lawsuit by pointing out the tea contained antioxidants (but they didn’t prove that those antioxidants delivered the health benefits they were claiming). Still, the claims being touted by them and others would have you think that tea was indeed a miracle elixir. It’s certainly tasty, but…

Plus, if you start discussing health benefits, you have to discuss also the dangers (many of which are also unproven). Caffeine (L-Theanine in tea) is on the rise as public enemy #1 in some quarters. It’s a bit like gluten. A small percentage of people have a legitimate health issue but many others convince themselves that they have that health issue, too. And some tea vendors glom onto the idea to sell more decaffeinated or gluten-free products than otherwise would be sold. As for those antioxidants in tea (and other foods), their benefits are being challenged these days. Just as the old ideas about fat causing heart attacks are now being dismissed as having no scientific basis, so the assumption that antioxidants are good for you is in doubt. The debate rages about how they affect cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, for example. A study in Sweden shows it may speed up the progress of lung cancer.

Let’s not even get into the stuff labeled “herbal tea.” Very confusing. And an article about tea and health on WebMD not only lumps the herbal stuff with true tea (made from the Camellia sinensis plant) but doesn’t even use proper tea processing terminology, using the term “fermentation” where it’s obvious they should be using “oxidation,” for example. Makes me wonder what has happened to this site that I used to consider so reliable.

So, you can see why I have steered away from the whole health benefit thing. It’s also why I say, “When it comes to tea health claims, consult your doctor.”

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The banana is every slapstick comic’s friend, a delight for the chimpanzee set, the foundation of a favorite Summertime treat, an ingredient in numerous delectable desserts, and chock full of nutritious stuff like fiber and potassium – yum! It’s also part of the cliché “going bananas” – a phrase that indicates you’re…uh, well…anyway, you may find yourself going “bananas” at tea time without even realizing it. Here are some signs:

One of the top 10 banana jokes. (screen capture from site)

One of the top 10 banana jokes. (screen capture from site)

1 Vocabulary Morphage

Besides the phrase “going bananas,” some of these might end up finding their way into your tea time conversation:

  • Banana republic (a small, poor country with a weak or dishonest government) – as in “This tea time is looking like a banana republic.” (bad tea and treats being served)
  • Banana skin (British – something which causes, or is very likely to cause, embarrassing problems) – as in “If I drink another cuppa tea, I’ll being steeping on a banana skin.”
  • “Orange you glad I didn’t say banana?” (the last line of an infamous knock-knock joke)
  • Yes we have no bananas (a line from a vaudeville song – try to resist bursting out singing the whole thing)
  • I didn’t come down the Clyde in a banana boat (Old Glasgow expression!)
  • Make like a banana and split – said to tea time guests who have overstayed their welcome or stepped on that banana skin.
  • Top banana (the main comic in a burlesque show)
  • He/she bruises like a banana (easily offended)
  • Bananas have a peel (which is why everyone likes them so much)

You also find yourself telling very bad banana jokes, like the one shown above. Just don’t overdo it!

A bit of Ti Kuan Yin to go with those banana goodies. (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved.)

A bit of Ti Kuan Yin to go with those banana goodies. (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved.)

2 Tea Preference Changes

You can have several teas that go well with items containing bananas:

  • Ceylon Tea – A classic Ceylon tea with a light colored liquid and hints of delicate floral notes. Infuse the leaves in water heated to boiling for 2-5 minutes.
  • Ti Kuan Yin – A distinctive light cup with hints of orchid in the flavor. This is a semi-oxidized tea and so has a little bit more body than a green tea but less than a black tea for a unique flavor twist. Infuse in water that has been brought to a light boil (165-190° F) for 1-3 minutes.
  • Pouchong – Fresh and lively with a light astringent finish. One of the world’s most exceptional teas, with fragrances of flowers and melon, and a rich, yet mild cup. Infuse in water that has been brought to a light boil (165-190° F) for 1-3 minutes.

You can also make various tea smoothies, such as this Green Tea Banana Smoothies (recipe here).

3 Decoration Alteration

Need I say “yellow” here? As in tablecloths, napkins, candles, and so on. They are an indication that you are on your way to going “bananas”, but if you decide to paint the interior of your house yellow and hang yellow drapes on the windows, you are already there.

Banana cream pie with caramel (screen capture from site)

Banana cream pie with caramel (screen capture from site)

4 Banana Tea Time Recipes Dominate

You just gotta have something tasty to serve friends and family at tea time. If you see your usual scones or muffins or cookies being replaced with and of these, you are well on your way to going “bananas” at tea time:

  • Banana Chai Bread – recipe here.
  • Bitter Chocolate, Lavender, and Banana Tea Loaf – recipe here.
  • Banana cream pie – recipe here.
  • Banana pudding (my mom used to add those Nilla Wafers to it).
Deluxe Adult Banana Costume (screen capture from site)

Deluxe Adult Banana Costume (screen capture from site)

5 Tea Time Attire Adjustments

Bright yellow clothing would certainly be expected here. Or even dressing up like a vaudeville comic or a clown might be appropriate. Just don’t forget your rubber banana. And let’s hope no one shows up for tea wearing a banana suit. But if they do, be polite and only snicker behind his/her back, for it means your tea time has truly gone “bananas”!

So, how did you do? Have you gone totally “bananas” yet? If so, just give in and enjoy it!

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

With the holiday season coming and so many get-togethers sure to arise, the question is what to make? What to bring? This simple tea recipe is sure to fit the theme for Halloween, the first of many holiday parties to come. With its green filling and orange dipping sauce as well as delicious flavor, you can’t go wrong.

Halloween Tea Wontons (photo by Janet Sanchez, all rights reserved)

Halloween Tea Wontons (photo by Janet Sanchez, all rights reserved)

¾ cup sliced blanched almonds
¾ cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
2 ½ cups arugula
1 tsp green tea
¼ cup simmering water
¾ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 egg
1 egg yolk
¼ cup olive oil
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
1 pkg egg roll wrappers

Steep the tea in the hot water for 4 minutes. Place almonds, parmesan, arugula, salt and pepper in a food processor. Pulse together until pureed. Add in mozzarella cheese, panko, egg and egg yolk. Blend together while streaming in oil and then the tea. Make sure to combine completely. Cut the egg roll wrappers into 4 equal pieces.

1 egg
1 tbsp water 3 cups corn oil

Combine ingredients together to make an egg wash. Place a teaspoon of the green cheese tea mixture in the center of the wonton and lightly brush two connecting sides with the egg wash. Fold the side without egg wash onto the side with egg wash creating a triangle shape. Press down on the top corner and then press towards the edges to create a seal. Make sure to press out as much air as possible as well as ensuring not to get the filling on the edges. Getting the filling on the edge will prevent sealing and will make the wonton loose it’s filling while cooking. Repeat process with each wonton until done. Heat the corn oil in a medium sauce pot over medium low heat to 375°. Fry the wontons for about 45 seconds on each side or until golden brown. Remove from oil and place on to paper towels to drain excess oil. Repeat until all wontons are fried.

½ cup mayonnaise
2 tbsp Sriracha hot sauce
¼ tsp soy sauce
1/8 tsp rice vinegar

Combine all ingredients to make a wonderful dipping sauce for the wontons.

Recipe serves 15-18 people.

See more of Janet Sanchez’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

“Anyone for another cuppa?” (From Yahoo! Images)

“Anyone for another cuppa?” (From Yahoo! Images)

What in the world could Christopher Columbus have to do with tea? During the time he was out sailing around on those dangerous oceans and trying to find India, tea had not yet made its way to Europe, where he was from. And tea growing in India was confined to parts of the state of Assam at the northern tip of that country. He was seeking spices and other treasures, not to plunder but to trade other goods for. To get there from Italy, Spain, Portugal, etc., meant sailing around Africa, and getting around the southern tip was especially treacherous, subject to unpredictable and wild storms that regularly sank ships. So he sought an alternate route.

Now, remember that this was a time when folks weren’t quite yet sure that the world was a sphere. Many still thought it was flat, and even those convinced that it was a sphere weren’t quite sure about traveling westward across uncharted oceans. The idea of sea monsters and edges of the world dropping off into a void still persisted. Getting together a crew was a bit problematic. And then when he had managed that and those three ships (the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria) had sailed farther west than others before them from that part of Europe (the Vikings are another matter), what happens? He runs into land. The wrong land. It wasn’t even this continent. It was some islands. Sheesh!

Here’s where the tea part comes in:

If tea had come to Europe, there would have been lots of tea parties. And we all know how tea not only stimulates but calms, so they would have had tea and then said, “Heck with the spices. I’m taking a nap.” And those islands would have been discovered by somebody else. Maybe even Vikings. And it’s anybody’s guess how history would have gone from there. Especially considering how those Vikings took over Dublin and then a chunk of the rest of Ireland. And let’s not forget their settling Iceland.

So, raise your teacup in a toast to Christopher Columbus and his inability to get to India by sailing west from Italy. Poor misguided sailor. We could have all been speaking Scandinavian right now. Skol!

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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