Taste Testing Old Tea

Back when the century had ticked over into another millennium, I was given seven canisters of China Tea.  These dragon-covered tins languished on a high kitchen shelf, unopened and forgotten in favour of Queensland-grown black tea from the Russell family.

Eventually it was decided that the pantry shelves had to be Covid Cleaned, e.g. needing a serious going-over.  Various items were inspected and sorted into good and bad piles but the tea, packed in Hong Kong and imported to Australia, remained in a different category.

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The dragon artwork proved a lure and inquisitiveness won.

Although the tin lids were dust coated and faded, it was decided to open all seven of them, brew the contents—in cup and pot—and drink regardless of aroma.  Flavour was another matter.  To add to the excitement, one tin had lost its label and the large tin was Earl Grey teabags.

‘Hmm, not for me thanks’ I said, but the intrepid Dot B was up for it.

The lid seals had perished but once the canisters were ‘prised’ open, the interiors were pristine clean.  I only sniffed the contents and did not taste it, nevertheless considering its age the Jasmine Tea was still beautifully aromatic.

Subjective comments as recorded by Dot B, daredevil tea taster.

  •  Luk On:  Drying but pleasant after tones, would drink again.
  •  Oolong:  Smooth but common.  A nice cuppa.
  •  Earl Grey Tea Bags:  Tastes like a boring black tea.  Smells funny without lemon.
  •  Shou Mei:  Bit of nothing taste-wise but smells nice.  Slight metal aftertaste.
  •  Jasmine:  PHWOAR smells like FLOWERS and tastes like tangy FLOWERS.
  •  Pu Li:  Tastes like hot wee, smells like hot wee.  Not recommended.
  •  Mystery Tea:  Smells like tanbark and tastes … kind of Green?

Pro tip—don’t eat pickles after tea tasting.

Dot B Tea Tasting Reviews 2020
Dot B is a part-time tea critic and full-time dragon lover.

Put the kettle on and brew a pot of tea—milk and sugar optional—sweet treat essential.  Or check out my earlier post regarding the ubiquitous Afternoon Tea ritual https://thoughtsbecomewords.com/2018/03/11/afternoon-tea-and-fancy-food/

Gretchen Bernet-Ward    


Postscript

Queensland’s Nerada Tea blog is packed with wonderful things, from the tea plantation to recipes and tree kangaroos https://www.neradatea.com.au/blog

Tea Towels and a Missed Opportunity

Before you yawn in boredom, let me explain.  A local bookshop promotes a new title ‘The Art Of The Tea Towel’ by Marnie Fogg, hardback 144 pages and selling well.

That author could have been me!

Last year I posted about my cotton tea towels, their history and some photographs.  Nobody, as far as I could tell, had done this before and I was rather proud of my efforts.  This year Marnie’s book comes out and I’m kicking myself.

The ‘what ifs’ start – what if I had ironed my linen tea towels, what if I had borrowed my great aunt’s classic designs, what if I had posed them with kitchen utensils and what if I had pitched to a nostalgic publisher who loves tea and scones?

Would I have my name on that cover if I’d taken the initiative?  Would, could, maybe…

Of course, there’s always the option of publishing my own tea towel book, but there would be the whiff of ‘copycat’ about it.  I doubt the literary world is ready for another one.

Interested in my meagre effort (I even designed my own) click here:
https://thoughtsbecomewords.com/2017/10/01/teatowel-of-ignominy/

Interested in Marnie Fogg’s selection, click book cover:

Art Of The TeaTowel 100 Best Designs

Both links explain the versatility of a tea towel and its usage in today’s world.

So, writers, you can guess the moral of this story.

I’m slinking off to find a handkerchief to dab at my eyes…hmm, handkerchief.  There’s another drying piece of serviceable domestic textile…

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

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Tea Towel “Ayrshire Cattle Society” © By appointment to Her Majesty The Queen, suppliers of kitchen textiles, Ulster Weavers Home Fashions Limited, Belfast.
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My well-used Scottish tea towel but I’ve never tried the Haggis recipe.

Teatowel of Ignominy

Ever do something just for fun?  Sure you have.  From an impromptu picnic to cooking a lavish dinner.  Sporty things, family things, shopping expeditions or entering a competition in the name of fun.

Recently I designed a book-themed teatowel for fun.  There was a prize involved but I won’t dwell on that because I did not win.  However, it did spawn this blog piece…

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G-B-W©Book Lifecycle artwork (Australia)

For those born into a dishwasher world, I will elaborate.  A teatowel is used to dry crockery and cutlery.  It is made of an oblong piece of linen or cotton material, naturally absorbent, hemmed on all sides and printed with a design.  The design is printed on one side, in portrait position.  Teatowels can be any colour, any theme, but traditionally the same fabric and size.  They can also be displayed poster-like on a kitchen wall.  The following teatowels are not ignominious!

Tea Towel Design 04
Raspberry Thistles©Scott Inness (Scotland)

Tourist destinations sell souvenir teatowels, the most glorious ones are those in public art galleries.  Gift shops offer cute ones with flowers, teacups, recipes or cow designs.  Craft groups use them as fund-raisers, while cookware stores display matching sets of oven mitt, apron and teatowel with a trendy designer logo.

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Friesian Cows©Rodriquez (Australia)

I have a large proportion of Australian flora and fauna too well-laundered to show here.  The examples displayed are the best I could find in the kitchen drawer.  A lovely giraffe print from Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo NSW, was singed from a cooking incident.  My recently purchased Cecily teatowel (below) is part of a book-themed series from New Zealand.  It will not suffer the fate of another limited edition teatowel which, shock horror, was used to wipe the stove griller.

Tea Towel Design 08
Cecily©Moa Revival (New Zealand)

Teatowels sound old-fashioned and domesticated but they can become the focus of teenage washing-up disputes and used as a weapon to flick people.  Snap!

Tea Towel Design 05
Babushka Dolls©Ladelle (Australia)

Apparently teatowels originated in Victorian England and were used at teatime to keep the china in good condition.  Baked goods were often laid on a teatowel to cool or alternatively kept moist under a teatowel.  The name is different in different countries, in Australia a dishtowel/dishcloth is used for more heavy duty cleaning.

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Tidy teatowel (Unknown)

No doubt there is an online history of teatowels and teatowel aficionados around the world, but I am content in the knowledge that I have owned many useful hard-working ones over the years.  Lightly imbued with nostalgia and sentiment, some were gifts, most I have bought, and one I designed myself which is not destined to be printed.  That’s a good thing.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward


BONUS:
My blog post is laden with afternoon tea foodie photographs
https://thoughtsbecomewords.com/2018/03/11/afternoon-tea-and-fancy-food/
Extra teatowel image courtesy of The National Trust UK
https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/

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Made with care in UK for The National Trust 100% cotton.