Articles written for the Australian Tea Cultural Society (AUSTCS) newsletter, most current first.
Tea – it’s only natural (20 October 2023): It took Julie Brennan until her 30s to fulfil what was a teenage inkling but today she sees herbal tea as part of her holistic healthcare practice.
Zen and the art of tea culture (12 October 2023): When Raymond Leung came to Australia, his first job was to design the interior of the Mandarin Club. Little did he know it was the start of a Chinese cultural renaissance.
Make tea not war: the 100-year-old tea master’s peace mission (28 September 2023): How this 100-year-old tea master contributed to Australia’s chado practice.
When teaology is the spice of life (5 September 2023): Fehreen Ali is an Ayurveda practitioner devoted to the art of botanical healing.
Healing with the resonance of tea (15 August 2023): Becky English is an energy healer and quantum guide whose sound healing can be paired with a cup of tea.
Parched and sated: the story behind a special teacup (6 July 2023): We meet award-winning teacup ceramicist Reanne Brewin.
Medicine or poison? The convoluted reputation of tea (13 June 2023): Discovered as a medicine but then condemned as poison, what is the true nature of tea?
Work it: How the tea break transformed labour (1 May 2023): How the popularity of tea fuelled the Industrial Revolution… and why a tea break is your best friend at work.
The teahouse that stimulated the suffrage movement (7 March 2023): Read about educator Maybanke Anderson, who would meet her suffrage sisters in a Sydney teahouse known as the unofficial birthplace of Australian feminism.
A tea party for the Year of the Rabbit (20 January 2023): When Alice follows an anxious white rabbit down a hole, little does she realise where it’ll lead: to a world of tiny doors, a royal croquet field and “a mad tea-party” where time stands still so “it’s always tea-time”.
The tea on mental wellbeing (5 October 2022): The health benefits of tea have been studied for millennia but we are only just starting to understand its effect on mental wellbeing.
Earth, fire, water, art – it’s all in a teapot (23 September 2022): The Sydney Teapot Show combines claywork and tea culture in a popular annual exhibition. Here’s Elisabeth Johnson, curator at the Kerrie Lowe Gallery, on what to expect.
The ABC of Tea in Australia (12 September 2022): The history of tea-growing in Australia is as convoluted as it is cosmopolitan, but it all leads to a quality cuppa.
Tea and scones, the perfect pairing (30 August 2022): The Country Women’s Association is not just the largest women’s organisation in Australia but our largest regional and rural advocacy group. Group president Hannah Watterson opens up about its role in the city.
How to paint a teacup (25 July 2022): Angie Russi’s first ceramics project was to research Chinese tea bowls and now the artist comes full circle in her practice with her winning teacup.
Three sips for International Tea Day (21 May 2022): Because of tea’s significance in the biome, economy and culture of many countries in the world, the United Nations declared 21 May International Tea Day for the first time in 2020. For its third annual observance, here are three perspectives on tea.
The Tale of Princess Wencheng (5 May 2022): Books, Buddhism and butter tea – on the bride who became Tibet’s mother of tea and the driving force behind the famous Tea Horse Road.
The fight for equality is steeped in history (8 March 2022): As women’s rights movements brewed in tearooms around the world, one brand made sure women could participate from home as well.
Tea is for tiger (28 January 2022): When an unexpected feline guest drops in at Sophie’s house, she invites him in for tea. Gluttony ensues. Is this what the Year of the Tiger portends?
The social aspects of drinking tea (11 November 2021): Teahouses were the pubs of China and the engine rooms of women’s political movements; tea became the beverage of choice in the meeting huts of samurai and the parlours of high society.
Modern tea with ancient roots (17 September 2021): Tea has a millennia-long history, but you’d be wrong if you thought it was steeped in tradition. Experience an ancient beverage in new ways.
From historic Japan to the world (2 September 2021): When founder of DoMatcha John Harrison brought matcha to North America, his Japanese supplier doubted the market would take to it. Fast forward some 15 years and matcha has become a global beverage and ingredient.
The leaf and soul of Sylvie Riches (13 August 2021): We talk to award-winning ceramicist Sylvie Riches about serendipity, banksias and the influence of Thierry Luang Rath.
Why innovation drives the future of tea (15 June 2021): When it comes to solving problems and creating a sustainable future, agribusinesses need to connect and collaborate to innovate.
Where tea takes wing (27 April 2021): When the Wing project teamed up with Adore Tea in Canberra, it meant tea lovers started scanning the skies for their incoming fix.
Making tea for space (6 Apr 2021): In the lead-up to the 60th anniversary of the first human voyage into space, we ask the all-important question: what does tea in space taste like?
How tea fuelled the women’s movement (2 Mar 2021): When Alva Belmont divorced William Vanderbilt and outlived her second husband she built a teahouse for feminists.
The tea that’s powered by bullsh!t (12 Feb 2021): While tea plantation oxcarts are a thing of the past, the role of cows in the age of estate mechanisation is both rustic and future-conscious.
Tea is for tasseography (5 Jan 2021): The new year always prompts questions about the future and the art of divination is just a cup of tea away.
Give us this day our daily tea (25 Nov 2020): The countdown to Christmas begins next week – and it now comes with a daily dose of tea.
A teacup showcase (5 Nov 2020): Every year the Australian Tea Cultural Society commissions a ceramicist to produce its ‘Welcome by Tea’ souvenir – a handcrafted teacup presented at the event. Here we give you an opportunity to meet the ceramicists behind the teacup entries.
Tea in 3D (1 Sep 2020): Debuting in 1954 in a German factory, the ‘Utah’ teapot achieved fame in the 1970s as one of the first 3D computer graphics challenges. Here’s how a teapot re-defined 3D computer graphics.
Of green leaves and golden soil (18 Aug 2020): Australia was once the highest per capita consumer of tea in the world, but we barely rate a mention as growers. Here’s the secret history of growing tea in Australia.
Journey of the palate (28 Jul 2020): Discovering the world through tea.
The way of matcha (17 Jul 2020): Sixteenth generation Japanese tea-maker Kazunori Handa-san talks legacy, family and the art of tea-making.
A nice cup of tea and a long yarn (7 Jul 2020): Tea-ing the knit with professional tea cosy artist Rosy Hardress, a Fish Creek Tea Cosy Festival winner.
The science behind the art of teaware (16 Jun 2020): The making of a teacup with ceramicist Christopher Plumridge, winner of the AUSTCS Ceramic Cup Competition.
The curator’s case of teaware through the ages (2 Jun 2020): How to be a professional teaware collector, with Amanda Dunsmore, curator of Decorative Arts at the National Gallery of Victoria.
The inaugural International Tea Day (19 May 2020): In 2019, the United Nations agreed to formally recognise International Tea Day, making 21 May 2020 the first.
Tea is poetry in a cup (17 Mar 2020): Celebrated on 21 March every year, World Poetry Day communicates ‘the innermost values of diverse cultures’. It’s also a perfect accompaniment to a cup of tea.
Our tea lady of mercy (4 Mar 2020): Often referred to as the ‘Goddess of Mercy’, Guanyin is a Buddhist legend and an oolong myth.
Tea at the dawn of feminism (19 Feb 2020): Publisher and poet, activist and tea drinker, Louisa Lawson deserves to be known by her role outside of being ‘Henry’s mum’.
Ceylon, thanks for all the tea (4 Feb 2020): On 4th February 1948, Sri Lanka became independent from British rule. Adeline Teoh traces the island nation’s fortunes from happy accident to tea tycoon.
A-Waltzing Matilda with tea (21 Jan 2020): How the bush ballad we love (or love to hate) was popularised by tea.
On tea ladies and billy boys (14 Jan 2020): Once an essential member of staff, the tea lady has been relegated to the annals of history. But her legacy should live on.
Happy brew year! (24 Dec 2019): Although spring is often touted as the prime time for new tea, the turn of the calendar also supports an old Japanese ritual,
Tea’s all fun and games (21 Nov 2019): While books and movies are often cited as the foundations of modern culture, it’s video games that have a surprising amount of influence – but where’s the tea?
When earth, air and water meet for tea (27 Aug 2019): What connects the tea-growing region of Darjeeling to the famous wine district of Champagne? On terroir.
A recipe for Christmas in July (25 Jul 2019): Christmas in July is a southern hemisphere spin-off of the Christian holiday that has European Yule traditions as its roots. It’s also a perfect time to make Christmas tea.
The simple life of tea (10 Jul 2019): Author Henry David Thoreau was an advocate for the simple life. His birthday, 12 July, marks a modern incarnation of his philosophy: Simplicity Day.
Green tea and Mount Fuji (3 Jun 2019): Shincha, or first flush green tea, from Japan is highly anticipated and a visit in May just after harvest will always be a treat.
Who is the mother of tea? (10 May 2019): While ‘Divine Farmer’ Shennong is often credited as the father of tea for his discovery of our favourite leaf, the spot for mother of tea remains vacant.
Make tea not war (24 Apr 2019): Anzac biscuits get all the glory, while ‘Anzac’ tea probably did all the hard work to keep our troops fuelled.
Tomb-sweeping and tea reaping (29 Mar 2019): From late February, the northern hemisphere harvests its first tea of the year. But what does tomb-sweeping have to do with prized spring tea?
On Tuesdays we have tea (5 Mar 2019): Mardi Gras is more than pancakes or a parade – it could be an iconic day for tea, our Mardi Cha.
For the love of tea (5 Feb 2019): Saint Valentine of Rome may have died in the 3rd century but his legacy of love lives on… in tea.
Postcard from Sri Lanka (13 Nov 2018): Tea is one of Sri Lanka’s top exports but much of it is for multinational label teabags. On a recent trip, Adeline Teoh searches for gems among the dust.
Making a standard cup of tea (22 Oct 2018): Did you know there is an international standard for a cup of tea?
Tea is for temperance (27 Sep 2018): Australia has a drinking problem, but is tea the answer? The role of ‘dry’ months like febfast, Dry July and Ocsober in a boozy culture and whether tea can fill the gaps.
The Book of Tea and other stories (31 Jul 2018): In the lead-up to Book Lovers Day on 9th August, Adeline Teoh peeks between the covers to reveal the long relationship between tea and books.
A gift of the GABA (20 Jul 2018): GABA tea has been around since the 1980s but is only just starting to gain more traction with western tea drinkers for its health properties.
Making tea for Malawi (2 Jul 2018): As we approach Malawi’s Independence Day on 6 July, Adeline Teoh reflects on the history of the African tea trade.
Tea, a drink to your health? (4 Apr 2018): Ahead of World Health Day on 7 April, Adeline Teoh investigates how tea and health have been intertwined since the beginning of tea’s history.
Water is the mother of tea (20 Mar 2018): For World Water Day on Thursday 22 March, Adeline Teoh takes a closer look at how the top world beverage affects tea.
Portuguese royal tea (6 Mar 2018): To celebrate International Women’s Day on 8 March, Adeline Teoh pays homage to a Portuguese princess, the ‘first lady of tea’ in England.
K-pop and tea drops (20 Feb 2018): Whether you’re enjoying the action at the XXIII Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, or gearing up for its Independence Day on 1 March, you should raise a cup of tea to this underrated nation of tea drinkers.
The Chinaman who opened Australia’s first tearoom (6 Feb 2018): Ahead of the Lunar New Year (16 February, Year of the Dog) Adeline Teoh remembers Sydney mandarin Mei Quong Tart, the Chinaman who opened Australia’s first tearoom.
‘Switch to tea’ (23 Jan 2018): Who was responsible for pioneering the tea tastes of a nation? Adeline Teoh introduces Alfred Thomas Bushell, Australia’s first tea shop owner.
Raise your cup on International Tea Day (8 Dec 2017): Next Friday, 15 December, marks the 13th International Tea Day. Here’s how you can support ethically produced tea while raising your cup.
Image credit: David Lyons