Tuesday, August 25, 2020

100 Years of (some) Women's Suffrage, Tea and More to Do


My copy of the tea set used by Alva Vanderbilt Belmont,
commissioned to raise funds for the suffrage movement.  More info

This month in the US, we mark the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which granted some women (mostly white women) the right to vote. The hard truth is that it took another 45 years for women of color to be guaranteed voting rights with the passage of the Voting Rights Act. 

Tea was a fueling beverage for the women a century-plus ago, laboring for suffrage. As we note the hard-fought victory of the 19th Amendment, let us also drink in the bitterness of this tea -- that many sisters of color were unable to vote until 1965. And another 10 years for Americans whose primary language was not English. 1975 -- that's in my lifetime. A moment of silence to acknowledge these transgressions. And a commitment to work for social justice.  

Following the model set by women in the UK, US women met over cups of tea to strategize and proselytize.  One infamous moment: In July 1848, Jane Hunt invited Elisabeth Cady Stanton to her home for tea, along with Lucretia Mott, Martha Wright and Mary Ann McClintock. These women were impassioned, and the gathering led to the Seneca Falls Convention just 10 days later. 

Let us now name some of the Black Suffragists who worked hard for voting rights: Sojourner Truth, Daisy Elizabeth Adams LampkinFrances Ellen Watkins Harper,  Mary Ann Shadd Cary, Mary Church Terrell, Nannie Helen Burroughs, Ida B. Wells.  Latinx suffragists include: MarĂ­a Amparo Ruiz de Burton and Adelina Otero-Warren Thanking Indigenous/Native American suffragist Zitkala-Sa and the Iriquois model of inclusion. Gratitude to Chinese-American Mabel Ping-Hua Lee and Japanese supporter Komako Kimura, who came from Japan to march with women in New York.  These are just a few of the many women of color who were committed to the cause. 

The ingenuity of the suffragists impresses, still today. They used tea parties to educate others, enlist support and raise money. 

There were at lest two special brands of tea sold for the cause, Equality Tea being one. Given that tea packaging is fragile, little physical evidence of this remains. 

In addition to the tea set shown above, the National American Woman Suffrage Association sold a demitasse cup and saucer embellished with "Votes for Women" on a gold rim. 

Image left: courtesy the California Secretary of State
Image below: courtesy liveauctioneers.com 

By the way, I've just learned that in the US, the preferred term was suffragist (not suffragette).  Read more

I'm indebted to and inspired by these suffragist women. I continue to think about how tea can play a role in the work of social justice.

Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglas statue in Rochester, NY
"Let's Have Tea" by Pepsy Kettavong

Image from commons.wikimedia.org

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Memories in a Tea Cozy/Cosy

How do you spell it?  Tea Cozy (common in the US) or Tea Cosy (common in the UK).  I appreciate both styles.  :-)  Anyway you spell it, they're handy. I dislike cold tea, and a cozy/cosy helps!  Especially this one, which has a thermal lining in the middle.  I used these instructions to make one sized for my smaller teapots. I wanted to feature the Darjeeling text, and on the other side, Ceylon, so I fussy cut the fabric.

This fabric was a gift from my "room friend," affectionately called Rose MacGyver due to her cleverness in devising solutions to all kinds of needs when we were traveling in China, Tibet and India. We also traveled together to London, and so it's my attempt to connect these adventures (a British-inspired cosy with the Indian tea-growing region prominently displayed). 

That's the DH, dear hubby, gardening in the background at a community garden plot 

This cozy/cosy also connects me with my trip back to Darjeeling this past October, and another dear friend who was my traveling companion, AM. I dream of the day when I can host a tea where these two women can meet and share talk of travel.  

I've been using this cozy/cosy nearly every day, and thinking of my friends and our adventures! Comfort and warmth in tough times.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Tea School, of Tea Fest PDX

The Portland Tea Festival is launching an online Tea School!  The classes are really awesome and really affordable! I hope you'll take a look. I'm teaching a class on Bowl-Style Brewing this Wednesday, 4/29 at 1 pm PDT.  It's a brew-along, and will be lots of fun! 

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Tea and Books Sustain Me > Helping the Sellers

Tea and books help sustain me in these unprecedented times.  (OK, Star Trek too.) 

I buy my teas from small specialty shops, and they need our help right now.  So do the independent bookstores.  Below are some of my favorites. If you are in the fortunate position of financial security, perhaps you can send some love to yourself, your mom, your neighbor, your favorite nurse, in the form of tea and books...

Jasmine Pearl Tea Company: A wide range of quality teas, including herbals.  I'm a fan of Bombay Breakfast, African Grey and Yoga blend.

Floating Leaves Tea: A shop that specializes in exquisite Taiwanese oolongs. If you like light teas, try a high mountain oolong. If you like dark, roasted flavors, try Charcoal Dong Ding. 

Young Mountain Tea: Working in India and Nepal to make not only amazing teas, but also to build vibrant local communities. Try the Black Orchid and the Ruby Oolong.

Powell's Books: A Portland icon! Or support your local bookstore.

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

Back to Glenburn Tea Estate

Woman plucking tea in Darjeeling

Thank you AM for snapping this photo!

A workmate pointed out that I used the word heaven three times in one sentence, as I was describing my trip to Darjeeling, India and particularly Glenburn Tea Estate. Beautiful tea fields, majestic mountains, ethereal mists, scrumptious meals, plenty of exercise and time for day dreaming, good friends (old and new), and of course -- Darjeeling tea! 

On the way to Glenburn, we stopped for a picnic next to a tea field.
The fogged-in field was other-worldly! 

The path to Glenburn is, quite literally, over the river and through the woods and up a mountain and through the tea fields. It's a winding, and towards the end, very bumpy journey. Along the way, you'll stop for a picnic in a beautiful scenic area. (If you're prone to motion sickness, as I am, take meds AND sit in the front seat!) The 3-4 hour journey is worth every minute. When you arrive, you'll be treated to a welcoming glass of lemonade and the kindness of the hosts and staff. 

Our first day there, we decided to relax and do a little exploring.  I requested a cup of tea and what arrived was Afternoon Tea with fried tea leaves, cake and cookies!

One of the best things about Glenburn is bed tea! 
Your wake-up call is a tray of tea, cookies and splendid views.

I had been to Glenburn once before and long wanted to return. This trip in early October was one of the most lovely experiences of 2019. Special thanks to my traveling companion AM, and the the staff of Glenburn!  Bertie, Audrey, Rudolph and team - you made us feel so welcome!

Me, taking a walk in the tea fields

Imagine plucking for hours on slopes like this! 
I have so much gratitude to the people who make our cups of Darjeeling tea possible.

The porch, where I spent many happy moments writing in my journal (and drinking tea)

We spent a morning in the factory, learning how the tea is processed and sampling the
Glenburn lineup

Dinner is a leisurely, multi-course event but always finished with chocolate and tea.

Somehow, I still slept soundly!

Bertie and Audrey (along with Rudolph, not shown) -- hosts extraordinaire!

It's heaven for me!

Monday, July 15, 2019

Chanoyu: What Have You Been Studying for So Long?

I have been studying Chanoyu, commonly referred to in English as the Japanese Tea Ceremony, for 7.5 years as of this writing. While my sensei considers me an intermediate student, in many ways I feel like a beginner. 

I'm almost universally met with a "Wow!" when I share that I've been studying for this long. And what most folks are too polite to ask is, "What's taking so long?" :-)  It's a fair question!

First, there isn't one "tea ceremony." There are many variations, based on numerous factors such as season, guests, occasion, utensils, location and much more. Also, the further into my studies I go, the more complicated and lengthy the procedures become.

Second, it's physically demanding! It's hard (at least for me) to sit on my knees for long periods. Add to that the need to walk in a specific manner, make each movement with deliberation, and rise gracefully from the kneeling position (with precious tea utensils in my hands). It takes practice, conditioning, and skill to make this all look effortless. There is much to be learned! 

Third, we learn about many Japanese art forms and much history as we go. This includes the art and craft of pottery, ceramics, iron, bamboo, calligraphy, lacquer, wood, incense, flowers and more. We learn and tell stories about the tea utensils and the people who have made them.

And finally, I've referred so far to Chanoyu, which means hot water for tea. The term Chado, or the way of tea, is another expression, one of great depth, used for tea ceremony. There are four grounding principles in the tea ceremony: Harmony, Respect, Purity and Tranquility. To me, Chado expresses the spirit one has when approaching tea ceremony with discipline, mindfulness and care, and when attempting to apply the four principles to life.

Like ballet or painting or writing, there are elements of both discipline and art that can be studied, practiced and honed over a lifetime. One of my favorite experiences of tea ceremony was when I was invited to a tea gathering in Nara, Japan a few years ago (as a guest of my sensei). We watched as women well into their 70s and 80s practiced tea, with their sensei being nearly 90. They moved fluidly through the steps of the ceremony and appeared to radiate with their love of tea. May I be so fortunate!

Monday, May 20, 2019

Lovejoy's Tea Room, Portland

Me, in a fabulous chair at Lovejoy's in Portland
Thank you @mitranite for the photo!

Portland has a new tea room, and I think (hope!) it’s here to stay!  Lovejoy's Tea Room on Killingsworth is a blend of traditional and cheeky, serious about the food and tea with the right blend of quirks and welcome to keep it interesting. 

The Queen's Tea ($29.95) comes with a scone and a crumpet

I've been here twice, and both times I enjoyed myself. The tea room attracts the traditional ladies who do tea, but also a young, diverse crowd. I think this could be the key to the tea room's sustained success. When I visited recently, a table entirely of young men sat just behind me. Owner Brendon Constans sets the tone for the environment, where one can be welcomed for who they are. All best wishes!

Brendon Constans, Owner

Tempting petit fours

Captain Picard watches over the tea room