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. Continue reading
Working at Murchie’s has been fun both on a tea-blending side, but also in that it allows me to scratch my Tea History itch.
For those not well-acquainted with Murchie’s, it’s been around a good century and in that time has developed quite a number of blends. To keep them organized, there is a Murchie’s blending book—a big black book of quick-reference recipes done to the pound of tea (and sometimes coffee) passed down through the generations. Most are family blends, dedicated to Reverend Oldfield (an actual blend—I learned about it through a friend, a descendent of said Oldfield; he dislikes it because it has jasmine), or some place (a hotel, etcetera). It’s all done in short-hand notation, and half the fun is trying to figure out that shorthand’s legend. Continue reading
In Sarah Rose’s For All the Tea in China, readers are introduced to Robert Fortune, a self-taught botanist hired by the British government to infiltrate China and retrieve tea seedlings and information in order to grow it in British India. One of the books Rose sources information from is The Great Tea Venture, and it’s here that I first started learning about other Robert Fortune-like figures in history. Continue reading
The mechanical evolution of tea production began as early as the 1880s,2 attempting to modernize and streamline the traditional Chinese techniques brought to India. These early machines often dealt with the time-consuming methods of rolling, drying and firing, and improving upon existing orthodox techniques. The early 1900s saw the rise of unorthodox manufacture, exploring different means and ‘shortcuts’ in leaf disruption (focusing on leaf maceration to kickstart fermentation, or to forego withering). These two eras correlate with Harler’s third and fourth Phases of tea making, respectively.2
Thought I’d just make a quick post to bring to attention this comment, from “David” at Murchies, which clears up a few of the discrepancies I mentioned in my ramble about Murchies. Amusingly, this comment was made about a month ago, but I never got a notification for it, so I only just came across it.
Amazingly thurough post which I enjoyed reading, thanks. To help explain the name confusion regarding John Raith/Raitt Murchie. Raith and Raitt are the same name and are both pronounced the same. Raith is how you spell it for a scottish reader and Raitt is how you spell it for an english reader. If my memory serves John spelt his name “Raith” on his wedding certificate, but his name on the death certificate is “Raitt”. I suspect the Susan which gave you information about a ‘Douglas’ may have gotten confused with a maternal branch of the family in which Douglas was a common name.Sunday, October 28, 2012 at 11:19 pm
It began (as it usually does) on Google; this isn’t the first time I’ve typed ‘ “John Murchie”+tea ‘ into the Google search-engine. I’ve done it a few times now, but my search usually ends with very little information, and I normally give up within the hour.
Let’s start with a background for the non-Canadians. John Murchie was a tea and coffee importer and blender; he started up the company “Murchie’s”, and is normally considered to be the man behind the unorthodox blending of green tea with black tea. Murchie’s is still around today (with two in Vancouver and more in Victoria), and is pretty well-known. Heck, I have a friend from Alabama who orders from Murchie’s to keep up a supply of their Library Blend (they were first introduced to the company when they visited Canada a while back; sadly Murchie’s doesn’t extend into the US of A). Continue reading