May 31, 2016
by Cinnabar
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A New Approach to Writing About Tea

If you are at all connected to the fabulous worldwide network of tea people online you already know about the crowdfunding initiative for Tea Journey Magazine. As of today, tadalafil the ambitious funding goal has been met, link with more than 500 people from all over the world contributing to the Kickstarter campaign. The publication is now assured of its launch and the funding campaign is in the final couple of days, but if you have not already pledged to the project, or if you are just now hearing about it, you can still add your support at whatever level feels comfortable to you and become a charter subscriber.

Tea Journey represents a new approach to writing about tea, with focus on the value of information at origin and displaying a truly international approach to tea and tea culture. It is exciting to see this caliber of writing, photography, and video becoming available through the labors of a very dedicated team of tea people under the experienced and passionate leadership of Dan Bolton. From the Tea Journey website:

“Tea Journey believes that the most authoritative content originates in the tea lands. That is why the magazine recruited top journalists, tea experts, translators and publishers in the tea lands to contribute a third of the publication’s content. Tea Journey identifies the best articles found in Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean and Japanese publications. The staff then retells these stories in nuanced English.”

Explore the content that is already available on the website, and expect ongoing delivery of rich content from this new publication. An example of the kind of material we can expect:

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January 2, 2015
by Cinnabar
12 Comments

Tea in the desert

Tuareg TeaAfter encountering an article on the band Tinariwen, I went searching for some additional information on them. Their music is a distinctive blend of multiple traditions, including those of the members’ own Tuareg culture from Mali.

As I browsed the names of the songs for which there were videos, one title caught my eye: “Iswegh Attay,” which I suspected meant something to do with “tea” since I knew that the Moroccan Arabic word for tea is “Atay” (اتاي).  As I began to watch, I was pleased to discover a beautiful film of a man brewing and serving tea in the traditional manner of the Tuareg nomads. This way of tea is similar among many of the desert cultures of Western and Northern Africa. It differs from the Moroccan tradition in its absence of fresh mint and use of much plainer, rustic tea wares.

From the band’s website:

TINARIWEN’S OWN STORY BURGEONS WITH MYTH AND MYTHOS IN THEIR HOME COUNTRY AND BEYOND. THEIR TALE IS THE STUFF OF LEGENDS. FOUNDING MEMBER IBRAHIM AG ALHABIB, GREW UP IN DESOLATION IN MALI, WHERE HE WITNESSED HIS OWN FATHER’S DEATH AT THE AGE OF FOUR. LATER, AFTER SEEING A WESTERN FILM, HE BUILT HIS FIRST GUITAR FROM A BICYCLE WIRE, A STICK AND A TIN CAN. THE BAND WAS FOUNDED IN THE 1980’S IN TUREG CAMPS IN LIBYA, WHERE THE NOMADIC PEOPLES HAD RELOCATED TO FIND WORK AND A NEW LIFE AWAY FROM THEIR HOMELAND OF THE SAHARA. DISILLUSIONED BY THE PROMISES OF QUADDAFI AT THE TIME, THE TUAREG BECAME RESTLESS AGAIN AND LONGED FOR HOME. BUT THE INTERACTION WITH CITY LIFE YIELDED UNEXPECTED CONSEQUENCES, THE BECAME EXPOSED TO WESTERN MUSIC — MOST NOTABLY THE GUITAR-DRIVEN ANTHEMS OF JIMI HENDRIX AND THE AMERICAN BLUES — WHICH THEY MIXED WITH THEIR OWN SOULFUL DIRGES WHICH THEY’D PERFORM IN THE CAMPS BY THE FIRE WITH BATTERY-OPERATED AMPS.

One translated line of the song: “I drank a glass of tea that scorched my heart.

Read more about the method of brewing and serving tea shown in the video on the Cultural Website of the Sahara. The photo of the Tuareg man pouring tea accompanying this article is used under Creative Commons license, and was taken by Garrondo.

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December 17, 2014
by Cinnabar
6 Comments

Really, really aged tea

bottle of teaThe role played by tea in the formation of an independent United States is a familiar one, but one aspect of this history that I had never considered before was the possibility that some of the actual tea offloaded in protest into Boston Harbor might be preserved in the archival collections of historians and collectors. Knowing that tea casks, related documents, and other Boston Tea Party artifacts were still in existence, I shouldn’t have been surprised that there is actual tea, but it’s interesting to think about what that tea would be like after contact with salt water, political foment, rough handling, and after so much time. If I did not know about teas aged intentionally, I might assume that the leaves would have organically degraded into dust, like a tomato or a leaf of lettuce. But after a friend brought an article on this very topic to my attention I did a little exploring, and found that there are quite a few samples of this tea, tucked into vials, bottles, little glass caskets, and in display cases in various locations throughout the country.

Sometimes the most unassuming objects can take on powerful meaning. A small, sealed glass bottle of tea, displayed at the American Antiquarian Society, is a case in point. Donated in 1840 by the Reverend Thaddeus M. Harris (1768-1842), a Unitarian clergyman in Dorchester, Massachusetts, and a member of AAS, the tea is one of the most compelling objects for visitors touring the library. Less than five inches high, the mold-blown, pale aqua bottle filled with tea leaves is wrapped at its mouth with twill tape and sealed with red sealing wax. Its attached paper label reads: “Tea Thrown into Boston Harbor Dec. 16, 1773.”

Read the rest of the article, “An Old Vial of Tea with a Priceless Story: The Destruction of the Tea, December 16, 1773.”

A little additional historical background, from the article, “Tea leaves in glass bottle collected on the shore of Dorchester Neck the morning of 17 December 1773“:

Tea Act of 1773
The seeds of the Boston Tea Party were sown in the spring of 1773, when Parliament passed the Tea Act of 1773 in an attempt to prevent the East India Company from going bankrupt. This act authorized the company to sell a half million pounds of tea directly to the colonies, without paying the usual duties and tariffs. This meant that the East India Company could undersell anyone, including smugglers, whose tea colonists had been drinking almost exclusively since the passage of the Townshend Acts that placed taxes on everyday items like glass, paper, and tea in 1767 (all the Townshend Acts except that on tea had been repealed in 1770). Parliament reasoned that if the colonists could buy East India Company tea more cheaply than any other, they would begin drinking it again, thus saving the company. Instead, the act revived the colonists’ old argument about taxation without representation and led to the events of 16 December.

What if it were possible to actually brew and drink some of this historically weighty tea? Would you do it? Would it be a disrespectful act of self-indulgence, like wanting to roast and consume a woolly mammoth that has been frozen for centuries?

Note: the accompanying photo is not the actual artifact from the Boston Tea Party (but you can view a photograph of one here). I did not have usage rights for the photo used in the article quoted, so I used a different photo.

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