November 2011


‘I’m a tidy sort of bloke. I don’t like chaos. I kept records in the record rack, tea in the tea caddy and pot in the pot box’

-George Harrison 1943-2001

I found this quote from my favorite Beatle very amusing. I also share the sentiment, excluding the part about the pot of course!

The tea caddy was a favorite kitchen item from my chilhood and I have memories of opening our caddy and inhaling the rich smell of loose tea when Mum gave me me instruction to “put the kettle on and make a pot of tea”.

A TEA CADDY is a box, jar, canister, or other receptacle used to store tea.  The word is believed to have derived from ‘catty’, the Chinese pound.  The earliest examples that came to Europe were of Chinese porcelain in the shape of a ginger jar.  They had lids or stoppers and were most frequently blue and white.

Tea Caddy from Ming Dynasty

Later designs used a variety of materials with wood becoming  very popular. Tea was very expensive so the caddies were locked and the keys only available to the lady of the house. In the late eighteenth and through the nineteenth century the caddies became even more elaborate often mounted in brass and delicately inlaid, with knobs of ivory, ebony or silver.
As the price of tea decreased toward the end of the nineteenth century the use of lockable caddies declined.  Those precious tea leaves which had held pride of place in ornate boxes on mantles and sideboards in refined drawing rooms were relegated to cheaply produced tins and boxes that were stored in the kitchen.  That was the style of caddy you would find in our kitchen!
We have a few tea tins at Local Coffee + Tea as well as a few decorative cardboard tea caddies.  I still use several caddies in my kitchen today, one which is fashioned from a tin which used to contain a favorite British candy called Licquorice Allsorts. It makes an excellent tea caddy.
Do you have a favorite tea storage container?  Your comments are always welcome.
Cheers,

Saturday morning at the Sarasota Farmer’s Market allowed us to introduce one of our new holiday teas, Festivi-Tea, with more to come in the next few weeks.  We also served our Organic Honeybush hot or iced and the crowd favorite Selby Select.

Our Cyber Monday deal goes all week as we offer all three of these market teas at a discount for the rest of November from our online shop.  All orders over $40 ship FREE.

We created Festivi-Tea last year to celebrate Lights in Bloom, the annual holiday tropical light show at Selby Gardens.  Back by popular demand, Festivi-Tea green tea will be featured during Lights in Bloom starting December 16th.  We hope to see you at Selby.

Our photo this week features ‘Team Bowman’ visiting our tea tent to visit our very own Tea Queen (or Tea Teen) Caroline.  See the entire album at our Facebook page, Local Coffee + Tea – Tea Journey.

Sip Locally

Team Bowman

A superb Saturday morning at the Sarasota Farmer’s Market with sunny skies and a slight, humidity free breeze.  Our sampling teas were also very special; Strawberry Smile green tea (perhaps why so many people were smiling Saturday morning), Nilgiri black tea and our Red Berries.   All make a nice cuppa for a Thanksgiving celebration.

This week’s action shot is of the Tea Paparazzi visiting our tea tent and admiring our Mable’s Rose Rooibos.  See the entire album at our Facebook page, Local Coffee + Tea – Tea Journey.

Sip Locally

The Tea Paparazzi

November 5th is the perfect time to talk about our Pinhead Gunpowder.  For me, this tea conjures up images of Guy Fawkes, a very celebrated and notorious fellow in Great Britain.  Born in Yorkshire, I am sure you have seen the mask below on Halloween or in the “V for Vendetta” movies or comic books, but do you know what Guy Fawkes was notorious for besides drinking Yorkshire tea?

Guy Fawkes

“Remember, remember the Fifth of November, Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I see no reason why Gunpowder Treason should ever be forgot.”

In 1605 a group of conspirators including Guy Fawkes attempted to destroy the House of Parliament by filling the cellar with explosives.  Known as the “Gunpowder Plot”, the conspirators wanted a Catholic King rather than the protestant King James I.  The plan did not work and Guy Fawkes was captured, hung, drawn and quartered for his part in the plot, but his name lives on.  Guy Fawkes Night is a festival in Britain remembering the Gunpowder Plot and the King’s survival.

Every year on 5 November Guy Fawkes Night is celebrated with open air fires or bonfires in towns across England.  Dummies, or “guys” are burnt atop the fires.  A great tradition we children anticipated with excitement was making the “guy” dummies a few days before the 5th. We carried the dummies around the village shouting “penny for the guy.”  The quality of our ‘guy’ was determined by the number of pennies we collected.

Today, the Guy Fawkes mask is worn by protesters to demonstrate their commitment to a shared cause against the establishment as was the intent of Mr. Fawkes.

Pinhead Gunpowder

And so to our pinhead gunpowder, a classic green tea from Zhejiang province in China, made from leaves rolled into small pellets which look like actual gunpowder.  It never ceases to amaze me how many people visiting the Carriagehouse Tea Room at Selby Gardens comment on this fascinating tea.  The tiny pellets transform, unfurling into graceful, dancing leaves.  If you have a glass teapot, enjoy the performance.

Gunpowder green tea is harvested in the month of April, as this is the absolute best time of year for quality leaves.  The leaves are withered to reduce moisture content making them more pliable, then steamed, rolled and dried.  Although the individual leaves were formerly rolled by hand, today most gunpowder tea is rolled by machines, though the highest grades are still rolled by hand.   This rolling process also renders the leaves less susceptible to any breakage and allows them to retain more of their flavor and aroma. You can determine the freshness of gunpowder green tea by the sheen of the pellets.  And the smaller the better, as size is associated with quality, hence the name pinhead.

Our Pinhead Gunpowder green tea brews darker than most green teas with a rich flavor and a slight smokey finish.  I have enjoyed Pinhead staright up, infusing multiple times but it can be brewed very succesfully with both ginger or mint and used as an iced tea.

I hope you enjoyed the gunpowder plot and please do enjoy many infusions of this classic tea.

Cheers,

the TeaLady