Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Tea Stuff Roundup - Tea Spaces, Tasting and Economics

I have just discovered the Bon Teavant blog and was so inspired by this post describing the creation of 'tea spaces' in Taiwan:

The "tea room" designs created by the students under the direction of Ms. Li are sometimes very contemporary and at the same time in rhythm with centuries of traditional tea cultures found in Asia. Ming Dynasty tea bowls sit on brightly colored modern textiles laid on the ground as a tea "tableau" rather than a traditional tea table. Dramatic overhead lighting is screened through trees brought in to throw shadows on the scene and highlight the drama of the tea ware.  Dancers spin through the empty space like human mobiles or constellations in a dark and open sky.
How awesome would that be... I would love to see something similar in Melbourne!

An interesting post from Alex Zorach about whether tasting tea affects your palate, and vice versa... and some more about tea-tasting on the Leafbox Tea forum. I've been thinking about this, as I've been re-reading some bits of The Harney and Sons Guide to Tea and trying to pay more attention to the flavours in my tea. Is it all too subjective though? What do you think?

And, on a more serious note, the ever-thought-provoking Corax from CHA DAO writes on the economics of tea: is tea an affordable luxury? Is the tea industry in danger? Should we develop our own 'tea stimulus packages' (I certainly do my best)? I don't understand a great deal about economics, but it seems to me that this might be another argument for purchasing tea as close to the source as possible, cutting out the middlemen and helping the manufacturers of high quality tea to make as much profit as possible from their extraordinary skills. What's your opinion?


  1. Thanks for mentioning my post; I'm glad you liked it!

    I really appreciated the post by Corax that you linked to on CHA DAO's tea blog.

    I also agree with you about purchasing directly from the source generally being a good thing. In fact, after reading that post and comment, I updated's page on Fair Trade Tea to be a little more strongly critical of the fair trade label, and to point out farmer-owned cooperatives (and I gave an example of one that is NOT fair-trade certified) as a good way to support the same goals.

    I do think there's something else which can help alleviate / address these problems, which is information and increased transparency. Actually, one of the huge motivating factors behind is rather subversive--it's to be a distributor of information, and to gradually push tea drinkers towards making wiser and more informed decisions. For example, a while back I added an article on private label tea, which, while it presents different perspectives, comes down pretty hard on the idea of having many middlemen with the profit concentrated in the wealthier countries.

    Also, I've been working on uncovering relationships of ownership and sourcing between tea companies, which I then publish on the brand pages. Some of it is public, but not widely known, such as how Stash was recently bought by Yamamotoyama. In a few cases, I denied listing to a company on because I found that they were simply reselling tea from another company all of whose teas were already listed. But I'm worried that there may be companies like that for which I have not yet uncovered those's a lot of work, I haven't gotten very far, and, at least, so far, it's been pretty thankless. But I'm hoping it will make some sort of impact.

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  3. Hey I just gave you an award on my blog:


Thanks for taking the time to comment... I appreciate it!


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