Tea Blog

George Orwell, A Nice Cup of Tea

The following was copied from  http://orwell.ru/library/articles/tea/english/e_tea.

George Orwell,  A Nice Cup of Tea

George Orwell, A Nice Cup of Tea
George Orwell, A Nice Cup of Tea

Orwell talking in his flat in Islington, winter 1945 (Vernon Richards)

If you look up ‘tea’ in the first cookery book that comes to hand you will probably find that it is unmentioned; or at most you will find a few lines of sketchy instructions which give no ruling on several ofthe most important points.

This is curious, not only because tea is one of the main stays ofcivilization in this country, as well as in Eire, Australia and New Zealand, but because the best manner of making it is the subject ofviolent disputes.

When I look through my own recipe for the perfect cup of tea, I findno fewer than eleven outstanding points. On perhaps two of them there would be pretty general agreement, but at least four others areacutely controversial. Here are my own eleven rules, every one ofwhich I regard as golden:

First of all, one should use Indian or Ceylonese tea. China teahas virtues which are not to be despised nowadays — it is economical, and one can drink it without milk — but there is not much stimulation in it. One does not feel wiser, braver or more optimistic after drinking it. Anyone who has used that comforting phrase ‘a nice cup oftea’ invariably means Indian tea. Secondly, tea should be made in small quantities — that is, in a teapot. Tea out of an urn is always tasteless, while army tea, made ina cauldron, tastes of grease and whitewash. The teapot should be madeof china or earthenware. Silver or Britanniaware teapots produceinferior tea and enamel pots are worse; though curiously enough apewter teapot (a rarity nowadays) is not so bad. Thirdly, the pot should be warmed beforehand. This is better done by placing it on the hob than by the usual method of swilling it outwith hot water. Fourthly, the tea should be strong. For a pot holding a quart, ifyou are going to fill it nearly to the brim, six heaped teaspoonswould be about right. In a time of rationing, this is not an idea thatcan be realized on every day of the week, but I maintain that onestrong cup of tea is better than twenty weak ones. All true tea loversnot only like their tea strong, but like it a little stronger witheach year that passes — a fact which is recognized in the extra rationissued to old-age pensioners. Fifthly, the tea should be put straight into the pot. No strainers, muslin bags or other devices to imprison the tea. In some countries teapots are fitted with little dangling baskets under the spout to catch the stray leaves, which are supposed to be harmful. Actually one can swallow tea-leaves in considerable quantities without ill effect, and if the tea is not loose in the potit never infuses properly. Sixthly, one should take the teapot to the kettle and not the other way about. The water should be actually boiling at the moment of impact, which means that one should keep it on the flame while one pours. Some people add that one should only use water that has been freshly brought to the boil, but I have never noticed that it makes any difference. Seventhly, after making the tea, one should stir it, or better, give the pot a good shake, afterwards allowing the leaves to settle. Eighthly, one should drink out of a good breakfast cup — that is,the cylindrical type of cup, not the flat, shallow type. The breakfastcup holds more, and with the other kind one’s tea is always half coldbefore one has well started on it. Ninthly, one should pour the cream off the milk before using itfor tea. Milk that is too creamy always gives tea a sickly taste. Tenthly, one should pour tea into the cup first. This is one ofthe most controversial points of all; indeed in every family inBritain there are probably two schools of thought on the subject. The milk-first school can bring forward some fairly strong arguments, butI maintain that my own argument is unanswerable. This is that, by putting the tea in first and stirring as one pours, one can exactlyregulate the amount of milk whereas one is liable to put in too muchmilk if one does it the other way round. Lastly, tea — unless one is drinking it in the Russian style — should be drunk without sugar. I know very well that I am in aminority here. But still, how can you call yourself a true tea-lover ifyou destroy the flavour of your tea by putting sugar in it? It wouldbe equally reasonable to put in pepper or salt. Tea is meant to bebitter, just as beer is meant to be bitter. If you sweeten it, you areno longer tasting the tea, you are merely tasting the sugar; you couldmake a very similar drink by dissolving sugar in plain hot water.

Some people would answer that they don’t like tea in itself, that they only drink it in order to be warmed and stimulated, and they need sugar to take the taste away. To those misguided people I would say: Try drinking tea without sugar for, say, a fortnight and it is very unlikely that you will ever want to ruin your tea by sweetening it again.

These are not the only controversial points to arise in connexion with tea drinking, but they are sufficient to show how subtilized the whole business has become. There is also the mysterious social etiquette surrounding the teapot (why is it considered vulgar to drink out of your saucer, for instance?) and much might be written about the subsidiary uses of tealeaves, such as telling fortunes, predicting the arrival of visitors, feeding rabbits, healing burns and sweeping thecarpet. It is worth paying attention to such details as warming the pot and using water that is really boiling, so as to make quite sureof wringing out of one’s ration the twenty good, strong cups of thattwo ounces, properly handled, ought to represent.



George Orwell: ‘A Nice Cup of Tea’
First published: Evening Standard. — GB, London. — January 12, 1946.

— ‘The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell’. — 1968.

Machine-readable version: O. Dag
Last modified on: 2015-09-24

[The book cover page]
George Orwell
The ‘CEJL’
© 1968 Harcourt Brace Jovanovich

Bodo Black Assam Selected in Tea Time Magazine

We are thrilled Bodo Black Assam  was selected in Tea Time Magazine.  (featured in “our favorites” in Tea Time magazine Sept / Oct 2017 issue)  From Bodoland in Assam, India, this black tea is hearty with a sweet edge.  With no astringency, this black tea is molasses sweet with citrus and raisin undertones.  We serve it hot and cold, by the cup and by the bag.  Both of our Bodo Assam teas, a black and a green, have the first ever Elephant FriendlyTM certification.  Both are excellent teas.  Proceeds from this tea in part go to elephant conservation in Assam, India.

It’s worth mentioning that another tea we carry, the Colombian Andean Princess, was featured with Capital Teas.  It’s reassuring to know our tea selection is exemplary.

Thank you to Tea Time magazine for recognizing these fabulous black teas coming from great farms.

Faces in Tea – meet Joyce

Joyce is our tea source in Yunnan, China.  All of our ancient tea tree tea comes from Joyce and her family.  Joyce is Taiwanese and married into a tea family.  She and her husband own tea farms in Taiwan, Thailand, and Yunnan.  She graciously hosted us and took time out of her busy schedule when we visited the tea farm in China.  The Chinese government asked Joyce and her husband to manage the ancient tea tree tea farm.  They are widely respected for the quality of tea they produce and their stewardship to the farms they run. We are fortunate to carry such premium teas in Missoula, Montana.

Learn more about the teas we get from Joyce.

White tea cools in the summer heat

White tea has a subtle, sweet flavor profile with many health benefits. It is the least produced of all teas, basically it’s picked and whithered until it dries.   Stories say white tea was reserved for emperors and high ranking officials because of its short harvest time and it often (not always) consisits purely of buds. Infuse white tea in small volumes to bring out its subtlety. It also counteracts excessive heat and menopause and provides a high level of antioxidants.

Yin Zen (Silver Needles) is one type of white tea and is made from the buds of the tea plant.  The silver white “hairs” on the leaf give this tea its name.  The buds of the tea plant are sweeter and have more caffeine than the rest of the plant.

Yin Zhen became famous during the Song Dynasty around 1000 years ago.  A number of legends arose around it, including that it was only harvested on nights of a full moon, or only by naked young girls or virgins, or only harvested with scissors of gold.

Buy White Tea      Buy Yin Zhen Silver Needles

Chilled tea around the world & at Lake Missoula Tea Company

Every culture likes their iced teas prepared a little differently. Iced tea popularity parallels with the arrival of the refrigerator in each country. For example in China it only became popular in the late 1980’s because of an introduction of a more open market. Cooled tea was already popular throughout ancient times but refrigerated tea was only available to those with political connections.

Tea prices actually dropped* due to iced tea’s popularity. Other countries started growing more tea.  The demand created competition with China which was the main source of tea during that time.

Japan has one of the most important cold tea markets in the world (mostly unsweetened) and it’s readily available  on street corners and vending machines.

Thailand has their own version of iced teas and it’s commonly known as Thai Tea. With a base of black tea, they add sugar and sweetened condensed milk.

South Korea uses green tea and mugicha, roasted barley, as their staple for chilled teas.

In the U.S., ice tea makes up about 85% of all tea consumed.  80% is black tea and 16% green tea.

Most countries and cultures use bagged tea like Lipton or Nestle for iced tea due to price and availability.

The cookbook with the first printed recipe for chilled tea dates back to the 1840’s from Kentucky.  The trend exploded in 1904 when Richard Blechynden served Indian black iced tea due to hot temperatures at the World Fair in St. Louis.

In the south, everyone assumes tea is sweetened. As a joke, Georgia introduced a 2003 bill stating all Georgian restaurants that serve tea needed to serve sweet tea.

At Lake Missoula Tea Company, we make chilled tea.  Chilled tea is made hot and then chilled in the refrigerator.  The cold brings out the various flavors and is refreshing on a hot day.

*sourced from npr.com

written by Lauren Donat

What’s subtly sweet & highly fragrant? Yes, Jasmine Tea!

If you’ve had Jasmine, you know it’s subtly sweet and highly fragrant.  Not only is pleasing to the nose and tongue, but it is said to have several health benefits:

  • heart health – helps unclog arteries while lowering bad cholesterol and fatty acids
  • rich with antioxidants and polyphenol (EGCG)
  • considered (not proven) that Jasmine tea has anticancer properties (specifically esophageal cancer)
  • common known benefits of this flower are the anti anxiety properties
  • help with weight loss

Jasmine tea cultivation generally starts in June and only last a few months. The more traditional method is placing the flowers in basket trays layered over the tea leaves (typically green and white) and left for four hours in what they call “scenting houses”. This absorbs the fragrance and flavor of the jasmine flowers.  As you might imagine, this is an intricate and delicate process. Higher grades of jasmine tea can repeat this process up to seven times to get the most flavor.

The flower is speculated to originate in Persia (now Iran) and in the Himalayan mountains in China.  Jasmine is very popular in many countries.  It is valued for symbols of marriage, religious ceremonies, and festivals in many nations and religions.

We carry 3 deliscious jamsine teas:  Jasmine Green, Jasmine Pearls, and Jasmine Puerh.

by Lauren Donat

Jasmine traditional flower ceremony
Jasmine traditional flower ceremony
jasmine flowers
jasmine flowers
Wesham Tea Farm God of Good Fortune
Wesham Tea Farm God of Good Fortune

Flowering Teas – get your Double Happiness at Lake Missoula Tea Company

Flowering, or blooming, tea consists of a bundle of tea leaves wrapped and bound around dried flowers. It is considered an art of folding tea in some circles.  The flowering tea is often purposefully unlabeled so that people will not know what to expect when the tea leaves unfurl.

Some teas are assembled and hand sewn by artisans and is referred to as performance or decorative tea. Blooming teas are often made in Yunnan, China. Flowers commonly used are globe amaranth, chrysanthemum, jasmine, lily, hibiscus, and omanthus. The possibilities are endless.

Our Double Happiness tea has a two chrysanthemum, one amaranth globe, and jasmine flowers hand wrapped in Chinese green tea.  The Double Happiness is brewed in a glass pot so you can watch it blossom.

written by Lauren Donat

flowering tea
image by Geneva Liimatta
image by Geneva Liimatta

A tea company in Missoula, Montana visits London

A tea company in Missoula, Montana visits London – yes, we travelled to London to see what the response would be to our Kenyan Hand Rolled Purple and Beliote Black teas as well as our Bodo Black Assam Elephant Friendly TM tea from India.  Folks at the trade show loved the taste of our tea and we made loads of contacts.

After the trade show, we wanted to get a sense of the tea scene in London (and potential buyers).  We got a lead on two tea shops similar to our tea company – Postcard Teas and Yumchaa.  Tim of Postcard Teas is recognized as an expert in fine, loose, Asian teas and we had two oolongs on the house.  Postcard Teas was cozy and intimate and reminded us of our tea bar where folks enter as strangers and leave as friends.

Our next stop was Yumchaa (yummy tea), which has a several shops around London.  Yumchaa was hip and  a good place to sit down and catch up on email while drinking tea and eating a pastry.  Like Postcard Teas, Yumchaa saw the gap in loose leaf tea in London and grew from market stand to brick and mortor.

Subsequent stops in pubs and restaurants confirmed that London is otherwise loaded with tea, albeit in a bag.

Fine tuning our scone and tea service was another goal.  Finding an afternoon tea that wouldn’t break the daily food budget was harder than one might think.  I sought local wisdom from a gal in a thrift (charity shop) store to point me to a solid afternoon tea.  From her perspective, if the average bear in London wanted afternoon tea, this meant tea and cake in a cafe with a friend.  But, to get the experience I was after, I would need to go to a hotel, or high end department store with a cafe.  She suggested I look for vouchers online for the finer hotels.

After much online searching, we had a deliscious cream tea at our hotel.  We got ideas on how to enhance our scone service and were pleased to know we had a leg up on one thing – we don’t serve our whites and greens at boiling.

While we never made it into a real grocery store, we were able to pop into a health food store in Pimlico, where the tea was all tea bag options.  While tea permeates the London beverage scene, it’s not exaclty brimming with loose leaf.

Ideals Flourish in the Colombian Cloud Forest Tea Farm

When the mosquitos were bad Paulo pulled blades of citronella and gave us some to smear on our skin. He told us the citronella also protected the tea plants from insects. As the manager of the fully organic farm, Paulo is proficient in the ways different species work together for mutual benefit. Pesticides aren’t used on the tea farm so Paulo and his team rely on plants like citronella and the abundant bird population to protect the tea plants from insects.

The farm itself is tucked inside a nature reserve where tree removal is forbidden. To expand the treeline, Paulo and his team nurture young ones until they are strong enough to be planted in the farm or made available to the public.  As we walked through rows of saplings in the nursery, I thought about the three tenets of the farm’s mission: sustainable farming, social responsibility, and environmental stewardship. I wondered how many companies that claim these values actually fulfill them?

The plantation is so healthy more species of animals live on it than in the surrounding forest. The company’s efforts to restore the neighboring river, the water source for the farm and the locals, have been recognized by a German organization that is investing in its continued decontamination. The tea farm has in fact had a positive impact on the local ecosystem and environment.

Paulo led us up a ravine and through the overgrowth to an expanse of leafy tea bushes. The pickers plucked at impressive speed. Each wore a hat and mask to protect them from mosquitos. They carried baskets in front instead to protect their backs. As effortless as they make it seem, their work is hard. They are standing all day with backs bent, sweat dripping off their noses, mosquitoes whirring in their ears, and snakes sunbathing in the nearby bushes.

These employees receive a standard wage so they have greater security (common practice on tea plantations is to pay pickers by the bushel). They live in the town encircling the farm and their children attend the schools the tea company helps support.  The wonderful Sonia, who manages these projects, later showed us around the schools. She introduced us to the kids who playfully yelled random English words at us. Some of the programs the company sponsors are computer classes and environmental classes for which they’ve hired teachers and supplied computers.

We walked to town at sunset – trying to avoid death by moto. Music spilled into the street where smiling women braided their daughters’ hair and middle-aged men in plastic lawn chairs drank and teased each other.

In other places I visited in Colombia, I saw people finish their bag of chips and toss the empty plastic behind them. I took long bus rides with schoolchildren on their daily commute to distant cities and later saw them doing homework in internet cafes. Against this backdrop, the tea farm’s commitments to environmental and social sustainability seem radical, especially when you remember that it is tea that made it all possible!

written by Christina Bovinette