Tea in Quarantine

In 1939 the British government expected airstrikes from Germany. So they devised a slogan to keep up civilian moral: Keep Calm and Carry On. There were signs and posters designed for the slogan to be hung in shop windows, but they never quite made it to fruition. They survived the Blitz without them, the Brits seen as stalwart in the face of danger, stuck in their routines. I remember the stories of people returning to work in half-destroyed buildings, or setting up just outside.

Years later the slogan’s become a popular piece of propaganda. Parodied and made into posters and t-shirts. Probably the most popular alternative I’ve seen is ‘Keep Calm and Drink Tea’. Given our current climate, that seems more appropriate than ever. Maybe even ‘Stay Home and Drink Tea’.

It’s been a weird few months. The lockdown came into effect within days of the Vancouver Tea Festival, banning groups larger than 250, then 50, then 10. The Victoria Revival Tea Festival was delayed–moved to August, fingers crossed. A Virtual Tea Festival occurred last month. I learned about it two days after it had occurred. Although the talks were all posted online, and it had quite a nice turnout, I hear. The World Tea Expo was finally postponed.

I started writing this when there was still a lot of talk and speculation of how this would effect businesses. In conclusion: Not good. There are a lot of small independent tea companies that I want to see flourish. There is a tiny Persian-owned tea-coffee shop that had the misfortune of opening up barely a month before everything hit, and was forced to close their doors again. I’m hoping they’ll recover. They’ve opened again with careful regulations, playing it by ear. I don’t know how their rent’s being treated. If they’re getting any help.

So yes, I’m still working. We’ve closed down our physical stores to focus on online sales, deemed an essential service to keep people at home. It’s put all my ambitious summer iced tea planning in jeopardy, and I’m rethinking the fall tea releases. We’ll see. I’m grateful I’ve still got an income. I’m grateful I live alone, so I have at least some control over Risk. I’m grateful that by sheer coincidence I bought a big pack of toiletpaper days before everyone swiping it off the shelves.

The weird light in all of this: With the shutdown of the libraries, I’m STILL stuck with my tea books. Oh no.  What a tragedy. Hopefully I’ll get those reviews out soon.

In the meantime, I’ve started up an instagram account of all things. Mostly micro-blogging about my adventures working for a very old tea shop.

Antique hand-crank brass tea blender.

Antique tea blender.

Meanwhile, I’ve got a side-project. An antique brass hand-crank tea blender. It’s the perfect size for small custom blends, but has been sitting in storage for quite a while so it needs a little love. A shot of it in action. A little squeaky and loose, but otherwise. This was such a fun find, and if they’d let me, I’d spend a day documenting our company’s history and just digging through our antiques… Alas.

I’ve wanted to clean it up for a while, and having never seen anything like it before, I did side-research to try and find other examples. Unfortunately I’ve only found one other example, at a museum in Ontario:

Tea Blender from Grey Roots Museum

Antique blender from the Grey Roots Museum

Tea Blender from Grey Roots Museum

Inside. Functionally the exact same as mine, with three half-booms each with a small offset fin.

In Canada, no less! I hope if I keep poking around, I’ll come across more.


  1. An old tea blender? How does it work?

  2. I want an antique tea blender. I am also an antique tea blender.

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