Contributing Works Tea Talk

TEA TALK: Make Tea, Not War

by Mary Murkin

Tea is here to stay! It has been an important part of our history; no less so in times of conflict. There was that little bit of business back in 1773 in the Boston Harbor that seemed to put our treatment of tea in a bad light. This was a key event in the American Revolution against the mother country—the British Empire. There was some nastiness about “taxation without representation” going on and that did not set well with the Sons of Liberty group here in America. The destruction of tea on that given night was a message of retaliation that stood for many injustices that Parliament wished to impose on the colonists. It was not a reflection of our feelings about tea itself.

Historically, tea was fiercely important to the British during World Wars I and II. During WW I, tea prices began to rise because of so many tea cargo ships being sunk by German submarines. The government took over the importation of tea and controlled the prices of it.

Tea was an essential morale-booster for soldiers and greater measures were taken to try to protect it. Two days after WW II broke out, the British government took control of all the tea stocks and ordered that they be safely stored in warehouses outside of the capital in case of bombing.

Due to blockades in the water, tea ships could not get through to deliver tea. The Ministry of Food began to ration tea in 1940. They introduced a ration of two ounces of tea per person per week for those citizens over the age of five. There was extra tea allowed for those in the armed forces, and for firemen and steel workers. Tea was also sent to British prisoners of war abroad. Tea rationing did not end when the war ended in 1945. Tea remained rationed until October of 1952.

At this point in time, we are now lucky enough to get all the tea we want, when we want it and in so many varieties. Let’s hope we will never again have to come to such measures as people had to bear in the recent past. We are lucky enough to enjoy our tea without a threat of it being taken away from us. For that, we should celebrate! Raise your teacups or glasses to a toast and then “Bottoms up!”

Mary Murkin is the owner of Carriage House Tea which is sold at Brightside Gallery, 170 Worth Street, Asheboro, NC. Contact her at:

Brightside Gallery
170 Worth Street
Asheboro, NC 27203


Tea Talk

TEA TALK: Yerba Mate (What is that?)

By, Mary Murkin

What has the strength of coffee, the health benefits of tea, and the euphoria of chocolate all in one beverage?  That would be Yerba mate (pronounced Yer-bah mah-tay)—naturally caffeinated and nourishing leaves of the South American rainforest holly tree.  Tribes from South America have sipped Yerba mate for centuries.  These rainforest people experienced effects of nourishment, focus, and invigoration from drinking this infused drink.

Yerba mate is not technically tea, but rather it is an infusion.  The drink “tea” is made from the leaves of an Asian shrub called Camellia senensis;  whereas, the Yerba mate drink is made from the leaves of a South American shrub called Ilex paraguariensis.  Since they are both prepared as an infusion of the leaves into the water, Yerba mate is typically found in fine tea stores.  You can drink the Yerba mate infusion as a warm drink or a cold one.  This is purely a matter of preference.

The nutritional value of the leaves of this rainforest mate tree is exceptional.  The leaves contain 24 vitamins and minerals, 15 amino acids, and abundant antioxidants.  It was back in 1964 that The Pasteur Institute and the Paris Scientific Society concluded “it is difficult to find a plant in any area of the world equal to mate in nutritional value” and that it contains “practically all of the vitamins necessary to sustain life.”  Pretty impressive, indeed!

The caffeine content in Yerba mate is somewhere between that of green tea and coffee.  However, unlike tea, Yerba mate has a very low tannin content which allows it to be strong like coffee without becoming extremely bitter.  It is also proven that Yerba mate is not oily and acid forming, unlike coffee, therefore it is less likely to cause jitters and stomach acid.

High-quality Yerba mate is shade-grown, which allows it to deliver more flavor and medicinal and nutritional properties.  Enjoying Yerba mate is generally an acquired taste.  The drink will have a somewhat earthy, grassy flavor.  You make it with warm water, and not boiling water, as that would release bitter tannins into the water.  To ease you into acquiring the taste for Yerba mate, you may add a little sugar, honey, milk, lemon, herbs, syrups, liqueurs, or fruit juices.  Yerba mate is one of the healthiest drinks you’ll ever raise to your lips.  Bottom’s up!

Mary Murkin is the owner of Carriage House Tea which is sold at Brightside Gallery, 170 Worth Street, Asheboro, NC.  Contact her at:

Brightside Gallery170 Worth StreetAsheboro, NC 27203

Contributing Works Tea Talk

When Tea Leaves Talk

By, Mary Murkin

Gather ‘round and ye shall see, many answers in the leaves of your tea.  Tea leaf reading is guaranteed to draw a crowd at any restaurant, tea house or neighborhood party.   This is a relatively easy, equally light-hearted and very accessible way of gazing into the future.  The leaves can speak for others or for the reader. 

Reading loose tea leaves is an ancient practice of interpreting patterns made by the leaves in the bottom of your tea cup.  The first evidence of tea leaf reading in the western world was in medieval Europe.   The heyday of tea leaf reading occurred during Victorian times.  The Victorian Era was that period in history when Queen Victoria reigned over the British Empire from 1837 to 1901.  This was a period of great peace and prosperity for Britain.

Tea leaf reading took a real nose dive after the invention of the tea bag in 1908.  Other forms of entertainment—television, DVDs, computers, internet– also began to push this pastime to the background.  HOWEVER, tea leaf reading is beginning to make a comeback!  There is a renewed popularity of nostalgic times gone by.

People are rediscovering taking time to enjoy a cup of tea, visit with a friend, share ideas of their thoughts, dreams, or worries, and wonder what the future might hold for them. Tea leaf divination can be done after one has finished their cup of tea and talked about what is on their mind. The tea leaves can tell a story.  One must remember that tea leaf reading is a subtle blend of mysticism, imagination, intuition, and story-telling.  A good tea leaf reader takes many things into account when preparing to read tea leaves for another person. The main things they focus on are the interests or curiosities of the client who is having a reading.  For the most part, tea leaf reading is considered a form of entertainment. One would not base any serious decisions on what the tea leaves had to say. So, to see what the leaves have to show, first pour your cup of tea, and then BOTTOMS UP!

Contributing Works Tea Talk

Scotland = The Loch Ness Monster and The Wee Tea Company

by Mary Murkin

World-wide attention has been given to the Loch Ness Monster—-and rightly so! “Nessie” reportedly inhabits Loch Ness, a lake in the Scottish Highlands. This lake monster made its debut in the year of 565 AD when an Irish monk, Saint Columba, first sighted the beast and saw it go after an acquaintance of his in Loch Ness. More and more Nessie sightings have been recorded over the centuries. Concrete proof of its existence is slow in surfacing, but it doesn’t take away from the thrill of the thought of this creature being out there.

Another exciting discovery in Scotland, and with complete proof of its existence, that is making quite a splash (tea humor) in the tea world is a tea plantation owned by The Wee Tea Company. It was in 2011 that the plantation owners put down roots (a little more tea humor) in the foothills of the Scottish Highlands, Dalreoch in Highland Perthshire.

The Wee Tea Company owners, Derek Walker, 39, Tam O’Brann, 44, and Jamie Russell, 36, began their business as
specialist tea blenders—creating delicious luxury tea blends for a consumer to purchase. This was quite a successful business start………….but, it does not end there. These partners decided that they wanted to grow their own tea and began their tea plantation at Delreoch. This plantation is home to two thousand tea plants, which makes it one of the largest in Europe.

When talking of tea plantations, our minds conjure up images of Indian hillsides and Sri Lankan glens, but now we will be able to include sights of the Scottish Highland Perthshire. This Perthshire tea has its own distinctive flavor. It has a delicate and almost nutty flavor drawn from the local soil and water.

In March of 2015, just four years after starting their plantation, The Wee Tea Company took the tea world by storm! Their smoked white tea won the Gold Award at the Salon du The’ competition in Paris, France. This was an impressive achievement considering they were fending off famous tea names from plantations in China, India and Sri Lanka. This improbable award gives us all hope that nothing is impossible. Raise your cup of tea to Scotland and then, “Bottoms up!”

Mary Murkin is the owner of Carriage House Tea which is sold at Brightside Gallery, 170 Worth Street, Asheboro, NC. Contact her at: