ETS Drawstring Tea Filters (ETS Image)

ETS Drawstring Tea Filters (ETS Image)

The teabag has been around for a while. Over a century now, though the exact figure varies, depending on which accounts you believe. In any event, teabags aren’t going away anytime soon and, as you might have guessed, have inspired a number of creative inventors to try out some offbeat variations on the theme. I covered a few of these here and now it’s time to look at a few more.

First up, the Two Part Tea Bag, which was patented about a decade ago. Though it’s hard to believe that no one thought of this before. Unlike many offbeat inventions this one is actually rather clever and may even be potentially useful. As the name suggests, the gadget consists of two bags, one of which consists of tea and the other a “flavoring material.” As the description notes, they “are detachably connected together so that they can be selectively steeped together or separately.”

There are many ways to deal with the problem of the squishy, messy, used teabag when you’re finished with it, and I’ve seen a number of them that resemble the Combination Mug With Integral Tea Bag Receptacle. But given that it was patented in 1989, it’s likely that it was one of the earlier efforts along these lines. As the patent says, “A transverse receptacle is formed into the upper portion of a mug, which slot opens up into the mug. A tea bag which has been dipped into hot water may be slid by the string attached to the tea bag from the hot water into the transverse receptacle where it can rest until it needs to be subsequently reused or eventually discarded.”

Patents aren’t always written in the most user friendly language – or maybe it’s just me. It probably doesn’t help when the text is translated from another language, as is the case with this one for a Tea-Bag String Having Functions of Indicating Soaking Condition. As nearly as I can tell the teabag string changes color for some reason or another depending on that is going on with the tea. Which might be a useful invention that we need but, without fully understanding it, I couldn’t swear to it.

Finally, from 1992, the Holder for Multiple String Suspended Tea Bags seems to be a device that allows one to steep a number of teabags at one time. Again, the text of the patent is a little bit tricky, and I can’t imagine how or why you’d use such a gadget, but apparently someone thought there would be a use for it.

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.

A mug is a mug is a mug…or is it? A stylish tea mug will usually have certain elements in its design. Here are a few to look for when selecting the perfect mugs for your special tea parties or even those solo tea moments.

(ETS images)

(ETS images)

Some examples:

  1. Beau Rose Bone China Can Mug – White bone china helps the beautiful Beau Rose pattern in soft pink and green really stand out. Note the little butterfly inside and the classic shape of the handle. Dishwasher safe. Holds about 10 ounces.
  2. Blue Butterfly Porcelain Mug with Strainer – Ideal for that solo tea moment – just you and a hot mug of tasty tea. This one is a charming addition to your tea time – with gold trim, a swirl border, and a lovely butterfly pattern on white porcelain. A key element here is the saucer that you can use to hold the white porcelain strainer. Dishwasher safe.
  3. Royal Albert Old Country Roses Mug – A classic pattern from the Royal Albert collection in a classic shape (a great element to keep in mind when shopping). The crisp, white, fine bone china and is decorated with the Old Country Roses’ signature motif of burgundy, pink and yellow roses, accented with lustrous gold banding. Note the easy-to-hold handle shape and slight pedestal at the bottom. Holds 9.6 ounces.
  4. Petite Fleur Mug – White porcelain, purple irises and butterflies, a pedestal base, and a unique handle design make this mug stylish indeed. Holds 14 ounces. Hand wash only.
  5. Summertime Rose Fine Bone China Mug – A classic body shape decorated in the beautiful Summertime Rose pattern. Brilliant white fine bone china makes the design of pink and red roses really pop. The classic handle has a small thumb notch at the apex for more steady holding. Dishwasher and microwave safe. Holds 7 ounces.

Body shape, handle design, and pattern on the exterior all combine to make your mug totally stylish. Fill it with your favorite tea and have a wonderful time.

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.

It seems sometimes that a lot of the discussions about iced tea revolve around the various methods for preparing it. There are several that are most commonly used. You can steep the tea in hot water like most people do for hot tea and then chill it by pouring it over ice or simply by chilling it. You can cold brew it by pouring water over the tea and chilling it for a specified period of time while it steeps. Or you can try the popular but somewhat controversial method of harnessing sunlight to prepare sun tea, which is kind of a combination of the aforementioned.

Something that seems to not come up as often when it comes to iced tea is the quality of the tea itself. All tea – be it iced or hot – has something in common: it is not created equal. I’ve never run across any research on the matter but, based on my own unscientific and statistically insignificant observations, it seems that a lot of people will use just about any tea to prepare iced tea and in many cases the cheaper the better.

But you get what you pay for with tea, as with so many other things, and the advice that I’ve given many times over is to buy the best tea that you can possibly afford. Perhaps the nuances of a really good tea might not be quite so apparent if you prefer sweet tea or something like it. Which is to say iced black tea with a whole lot of sugar tossed in for good measure.

If you’ve never considered the possibility of iced tea without sugar, maybe that has a lot to do with using sugar to cover up the taste of tea that’s not necessarily so tasty on its own. Or maybe you simply like your tea sweetened. It seems to be the standard for iced tea, and in the American South most people apparently don’t know of any other way to serve it.

My advice for iced tea, as I’ve sort of suggested already, is to try forgoing the sugar for a change, as well as those tea bags that contain less than stellar tea. Then, try preparing tea from leaves that are a cut above the rest. Who knows? You might actually find yourself rethinking your ideas about sweetened tea.

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.

(From Yahoo! Images)

(From Yahoo! Images)

Tea time can get reflective, with memories of days gone by flooding into your consciousness. Thus it was the other day that, while sipping my mid-afternoon cuppa Darjeeling (or was it an oolong?), that the memory of the oscillating fan came to the forefront and imposed itself over all the other things circling around in my brain (from grocery lists to my plans for upcoming tea tastings). Oscillating fans are still quite popular, but there was a time when their importance during those sultry days of Summer was beyond price. Let me explain…

I remember the days of my youth before we had air conditioning. The oscillating fan blew on me – ah! Turned away – agony! It was set in a wide-open window in the bedroom in a vain attempt to give some relief so I could sleep. Heat is bad enough, but coupled with high humidity makes it like lying in a pool of hot water. Even those who are raised in Equatorial or Monsoonal regions never really acclimate. The worst is when the temperature in the evening after the sun goes down stays up relatively high. A drop from 99° to 85° Fahrenheit hardly matters when humidity is 70-80-90%. And neither do oscillating fans. But every time it turned my way I gave a sigh of momentary relief.

I wanted to stop the oscillation and have the fan blowing on me all the time, but it was supposed to be better for air movement with the breeze going around the room. Maybe so, but one thing was for sure … it was even better with a glass full of ice and tea in hand. In the daytime, I would either be outside under a shady tree with that cold tea or inside in front of that oscillating fan. Fortunately, there was only a limited portion of the year when such weather was in force. But I don’t know how I would have survived with the fan and the tea.

These days I drink hot tea year round (and others do the opposite – drinking iced tea year round). And we have air conditioning. But the memories linger. It makes my gratitude for technology all the greater.

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.

Nothing seems to drum up headlines like ridiculously expensive tea. Okay, there are plenty of other things that drum up headlines, like problems in the Middle East and celebrities behaving badly. But pricey tea is still good for a headline or two.

Like one from a British newspaper not so long ago. And I quote: Would you pay £180 for a pot of TEA? World’s most expensive brew goes on sale. I’d be more excited about all of this but, as the title of my own article suggests, this sort of thing is hardly unusual. I’ve written on this topic before – here’s a recent example – but I’m always open to taking another look.

The pot of tea in question will set you back the equivalent of just over $300 and can be had at the “prestigious Royal China Club on London’s affluent Baker Street.” The tea in this case is said to be a “Da Honh Pao (Imperial Red Robe)” whose leaves have supposedly been aged for 80 years. The result, “an aromatic infusion with distinctive dark cocoa notes, a toasted fruity flavour and a long smooth aftertaste that lingers for several minutes after consumed.” Which sounds enticing enough.

So, let’s allow that a teapot contains four cups, on average. If you wanted to go in with four of your pals and spring for a pot of this elixir you could each get a cup of it for about 75 dollars. Which is nothing to sneeze at and, while I’m certainly an avid cheerleader for drinking the best tea that you can, I can’t help but wonder if there’s any tea in existence that’s worth that much. But I’ll extend the same offer I have before when writing about such pricey tea. If anyone would like to pass along a sample, I’ll be glad to give it a try.

If you’re not up for paying 75 big ones for a cup of tea, take heart. If you’re ever at the Royal China Club and you’re a little bit short you can get a much more reasonable serving of tea for two for a mere eight dollars.

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.

Tea and a big sneeze is a bad combo. But it happens. You feel it coming on. You try to hold it in. For awhile it seems as if you will succeed and have time to swallow that big mouthful of tea you just swigged from the teacup. Then, just when you are mentally giving a sigh of relief and about to swallow that tea, the sneeze bursts forth…along with that mouthful of tea. Murphy’s law at work here.

(From Yahoo! Images)

(From Yahoo! Images)

Well, the other day, without warning or any opportunity to try to hold it back, the big sneeze totally wasted a mouthful of superb English Breakfast No. 1 (with some milk and sweetener, of course). But just as you shouldn’t cry over spilt milk, crying over sneezed tea is equally futile. Thankfully, it wasn’t the last drop of tea in the house, or I must confess that an air of panic would have gripped me quite strongly at that moment. As it was, the biggest issue was clean-up. The next issue was getting the tea that went up my nose back out again (trying to be delicate here). It takes awhile. And a lot of facial tissues.

Tea is said to have a lot of health benefits (some backed up by real scientific studies and others…well…). Their effect on your nasal membranes can be less than beneficial, however. And things added into the tea, such as flower petals, fruits, lemon juice, sugar, and honey, will have their own effects, good or bad. Tea with milk in it is better, though, and can lessen the effects somewhat. That’s been my experience, at least, but definitely is not scientific. In fact, I searched and searched and cannot find a study done on people sneezing while drinking tea and having some or all of it go up their nose. Maybe some bright doctoral student will take this on as his/her thesis. Or not.

My personal tips:

  • Blow your nose well until you get out as much tea as you can.
  • Use a mild nasal spray, preferably one that is just a saline solution, spray up both sides of the nose per manufacturer’s directions.
  • Take smaller gulps of tea.
  • Avoid black pepper and other sneeze-inducing substances when drinking tea.
  • Keep plenty of extra tea on hand so wasting a little won’t be too disastrous.

These days, we tend not to carry cloth handkerchiefs, but you might consider it. Not those delicate and virtually useless lace ones. Have handy those nice white cotton cloth square ones. You may have to grab it at a moment’s notice to save your tea time guests from an unexpected incident.

Above all, don’t worry about it and enjoy your tea!

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.

Among most people who bother to have an opinion on tea these days it’s likely that the opinion will be a positive one. Which has been the case throughout of history – at least for the most part. But from the earliest days of tea drinking in the West you could find those who praised it for its health-giving properties and other qualities, just as you could find some who weren’t quite so enamored of it.

An article that appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1897 laid out the issue in no uncertain terms, sporting the rather unambiguous title, “The Evils of Tea-Drinking.” The unnamed author of this work seemed to think that he or she was living in a time of “Tea-worship” and decided that it was time to warn the world about the perils of “tea-debauchery.” Which sounds like some pretty serious stuff.

Once a vice that was confined to “nervous old persons,” claims the author, things eventually degenerated to the point that “nearly everyone is more or less addicted to its use.” Much of this rampant addiction is blamed on the custom of afternoon tea.

Though the author wastes no words on railing against this vile concoction, there is a brief aside to actually acknowledge that in its hot form it is “acceptable as a stomachic and general stimulant.” Perhaps aware that this was way too much praise expended on tea, the passage that follows stresses that iced tea is a really, really bad thing.

But, of course, that’s not all. Milk in tea comes in for a bit of grumbling, and then there’s the “further perversion with sugar.” All of this, if I may share a particularly colorful turn of phrase, is “sufficient to cause obstinate gastric derangements and their manifold complications.”

And so it goes. I could share more of the author’s dissatisfaction with this vile drink we call tea, but I’d recommend that you experience it for yourself. It’s just a quick web search away.

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.

Clotted cream is tasty stuff. If you’re never tried it, you might want to do so…no joke…stop what you’re doing, go buy some, bake some scones, and plop on some clotted cream. And jam. But wait…which goes first on that scone: the clotted cream or the jam? The great clotted cream debate rages on. But first a bit of background information…

(From Pinterest, Twitter)

(From Pinterest, Twitter)

Devon vs. Cornwall Style Cream Tea

The cream tea is where you have tea (naturally) and scones and clotted cream and jam (often raspberry or strawberry). It originated in either Devon or Cornwall, two areas of England and is enjoyed about the same time of day that an Afternoon Tea is held (around 4 to 5pm). In fact, it is in essence an Afternoon Tea, but the standard food served is a nice batch of scones instead of buttered toast, little cakes, and those little finger sandwiches. And ever since the debate over which goes on the scone first has been carrying on.

The Joys of Clotted Cream

To some of us, British food names are a bit of a turn-off. Things like “toad in the hole,” “bubble and squeak,” and “blood sausage” (which is pretty accurate, actually, and rightfully off-putting). Small wonder that they call this stuff “clotted” cream. No marketing sense whatsoever. I mean, what comes to your mind when you hear something is clotted? That’s called “association,” and a lot of folks don’t associate something positive with the word. At least not until they try clotted cream. (In all fairness, we have a few such food names, too – “hash” for instance brings to mind some big mess). But clotted cream is heavenly – thicker than cream, thinner than butter, a touch of sweetness, spreadable but better plopped on with a spoon.

What’s All the Fuss About?

The folks in Devon find that clotted cream plopped on the scone first and then the jam on top of it is quite tasty and keeps the jam from soaking into the scone (which is split in half). The folks in Cornwall do it the other way around, spreading on jam and then putting a nice plop of clotted cream on top of it – apparently of bit of jam soaked into the scone appeals to them. There aren’t strict boundaries here, though. Devonites can plop that jam on first if they want, and the Cornish scone lovers can plop on that clotted cream first. Folks around them might gasp in horror, though. I, for one, will proudly keep a strict clotted-cream-then-jam order whether dining in the local tea room or in the privacy of home.

Time to get baking…and plopping that clotted cream and jam! Oh, and don’t forget the tea!

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 United States and tea go back a long way, back to the time before there was a United States. The Boston Tea Party was, of course, a pivotal event in American history. But since we’ve written about this topic a number of times already there’s no need to retread that ground much. Tea parties aside, early Americans had a significant relationship to tea. Not surprising, given that we started as a colony of Britain, where tea eventually became a very big deal.

It’s hard to separate tea from politics in colonial times. Especially considering that luminaries like Paul Revere made part of his living from crafting pricey teapots and John Hancock profited from shipping tea to the colonies. Tea first came to this region courtesy of the Dutch. As the British influence became more pronounced there so did their favorite drinks such as tea and coffee, as well as the coffeehouse tradition that became so popular in London and elsewhere in the mid-eighteenth century. Tea was particularly popular in – but certainly not limited to – major cities like Boston and Philadelphia.

According to the laws of the land, all tea that came to the American colonies had to be provided by parties authorized by the British. But there was a thriving trade in smuggled tea that, according to some sources, comprised as much as 75 percent of all tea imports. Which was not at all unlike the situation in Britain, a situation that changed on both sides of the ocean when the British enacted a significant reduction of tea taxes in 1784.

Of course, by that time a number of tea parties and a war of independence had taken place and a new country had been founded. Many colonists cut back on their tea drinking during these politically charged times, often turning to Liberty Tea, which was comprised of various “herbal” substitutes that could sort of pass for tea in a pinch.

Many assume that the tea-related turmoil that led to its founding caused the citizens of this new country to swear off tea altogether. Which might have been the case right after the war but it’s hardly the whole truth. Tea was a staple at Washington’s Mount Vernon before and after the war and a Philadelphia tea smuggler who helped finance the war also backed the first official American voyage to trade for tea with China. Green tea (which comprised about one-fifth of the tea that ended up in Boston Harbor) made up a significant share of the American tea market in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and by the second half of the latter much of it was being imported from Japan.

Nowadays, of course, the US is generally considered to be more of a coffee drinking nation. How this came about would undoubtedly make for an interesting story but it’s one that will have to be told elsewhere.

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.

My theory: there are 3 types of tea drinkers (for pleasure, for some health benefit, to save the world/become one with the universe). You may think of some more, but I think this pretty much covers the spectrum. Most tea drinkers are a blend of one or more of these types, at least so far I have not met any purists (all one type or the other). Time to elaborate.

Flowers and a cuppa for that pleasurable tea time. (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Flowers and a cuppa for that pleasurable tea time. (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

1 The Pleasure Tea Drinker

Many of us truly love the flavor of tea in all its variations, with our without anything added, hot or iced. Starting the day without that morning cuppa, be it English Breakfast, Tie Guan Yin, or even Matcha, would be incomprehensible. The sheer joy of the aromas and flavors make that day start out right. And then there is that Elevenses tea time and Afternoon Tea – moments that the pleasure drinker looks forward to for its sensory delights.

2 The Tea Drinker Seeking Health Benefits

Tea has a long list of health benefits associated with it. Many are supported by actual controlled studies while others come from centuries of anecdotal evidence. People, hopefully with the approval of their doctors, imbibe various styles of teas to take advantage of those benefits, which range from healthy skin and hair to preventing cancer (sadly, a recent study has shown that tea doesn’t cure cancer once it has begun). Along the way, many become tea aficionados and expand their range of sipping pleasure.

3 The Tea Drinker Seeking a Higher Purpose

This type of tea drinker pays close attention to every tidbit of tea news that comes along, not always substantiating it, though, and can base their tea drinking choices on that information. On the plus side, this can send a message to those tea growers and companies that mistreatment of workers or bad agricultural practices will not be tolerated. On the minus side, it becomes easy for false and purposely misleading information to be posted and thus become a tool for strong-arming a company into caving to demands that may not be good for all involved. As long as you know that the information is reliable, you’re fine.

Bottom Line

No matter which of the above you are (and most of you will be a combination of two or more of the above), I wish you happy tea drinking.

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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