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Tea for the Tillerman – 50 years later

Yusuf / Cat Stevens Tea?

Yusuf / Cat Stevens released an updated version of ‘Tea for the Tillerman’ this month, adding 50 years of wisdom and maturity to the songs.

The songs sound great, Yusuf sounds great, and the lyrics of Tea for the Tillerman are so familiar they reflexively bring memories to mind.  But what struck me was my interest in the album cover.Subject of blog post, the original album cover for Tea for the Tillerman by Yusuf Cat Steves who also did the illustration.

I listen to music, but I rarely have any interest in album, song, or track art.  Whatever it is called these days.  Was this some other instinct from long ago?

Actually, I remembered that Yusuf / Cat Stevens was not only a singer-songwriter 50 years ago, but also an illustrator.  So, I wanted to see what he sent out into the world with these songs.

Album Cover Art

I have not spent so much time examining an album cover in a very long time. Of course, “Tea” attracted me at first.  But what kind of tea?  Perhaps the lyrics offered some clues, so I listened to the familiar songs as I sought significance from the cover.

Remember, ‘tea’ also refers to the meal taken at the end of the day. Glynis and her husband taught me that term, and they still use ‘tea’ to refer to many of their meals.  Tea is more than Tea.Subject of blog post, the original album cover for Tea for the Tillerman by Yusuf Cat Steves who also did the illustration.

But on the album cover, the ‘Tillerman’ has a teapot to go with his mug on the table. Then some milk and sugar, it seems.   Is the Tillerman waiting to be served his tea?

A tiller-man refers to a person steering a boat or a farmer tilling the soil.  Also, the person that steers the back of a fire truck or holds a ladder.

My guess with the deer in the background is either a farmer or this guy could be ferrying things across a river or lake. Perhaps this is how he is paid for his services?  Isn’t that how we are all compensated, with food and drink for the work we do?

Further, the hat seems less a farmer’s cap and more of a dock hand’s cap, with a feather of either massive significance or just something that was found along the way?

What’s in the Tillerman’s Cuppa?

So, what’s in his cuppa? With a full beard and worker’s boots, my guess is something black and strong. If you told me he was drinking herbal tea, I would scoff.

I consider this as I revise this post early in the morning, drinking my smoky lapsang souchong with steamed Oatly oat milk and local honey.  I bet that would get a scoff out of the Tillerman.

My guess is the milk is fresh from a morning milking. The ‘Big Guy’ could be lactose intolerant. Soaking oats, then straining them for a bit of creaminess with his tea, is not that far off or out of the question. What if he farms oats?

The giant sun is up, and so this is midday or late afternoon. With the kids climbing a tree, the tillerman looks happy. Are these his children? Perhaps his wife left the kids with him as she went about a chore.Subject of blog post, the original album cover for Tea for the Tillerman by Yusuf Cat Steves who also did the illustration.

The only thing I can’t explain is the gorgeous white tablecloth perfectly fitting the table. It seems like a special occasion, but I can’t make that fit.  I guess that it could have been easier for Cat to draw a covered table rather than trying to illustrate a seated Tillerman?

Or, what if the Tillerman has been working a nearby plot of land that may have been in his family for a few generations?  And recently, the acreage was purchased, retiring the laborer to a life of luxury.  And with silver in his beard, maybe he is looking after his grandkids?

That might explain the white tablecloth, and this is how he spends his days now.  He will be served ‘tea’ to go with his Darjeeling. Or if this is a cuppa green tea, I would guess an Organic Sencha rather than a fruited Goji Green or an Organic Strawberry Smile.

Tea for the Tillerman Lyrics

The album ends with a concise song I did not remember, ‘Tea for the Tillerman.’  A bit of a clue in the opening…

“Bring tea for the Tillerman,

Steak for the Sun

Wine for the woman who made the rain come…”

Okay, so a farmer waiting for his meal?

I have to do this more often. I really enjoyed gazing at this album art while listening to these classics.  The album cover for Tea for the Tillerman holds up as well as the music.

Thank you again, Yusuf / Cat Stevens

Think out of the Bag

Think out of the Bag

You may have noticed our new mantra, “THINK OUT OF THE BAG.” We have tried it on for a few weeks and think it may be time to provide some details about what we are trying to do at Local Tea Company.

During the course of a typical week, we sample teas to many visitors at Selby Gardens and the Downtown Farmer’s Market here in Sarasota. We talk tea and find many tea drinkers thrilled to engage us with their favorite tea tales. Yes, we love our job.

Basking in the glow of loose leaf teas from Local Tea Company in Sarasota Floridaour teas

It comes as no surprise that many people use teabags. But shocking is how many people have never tasted loose leaf tea. Sad to think so many people are missing out on the wonderfully unique experience of loose leaf tea.

And so, “THINK OUT OF THE BAG” our campaign to encourage people to choose loose leaf tea in place of tea in tired old bags. The subheading is, “Loose leaf tea is fresher, hipper, and just darn better for you.” We intend to convert teabag users to loose leaf tea drinkers through tasting, educating, and advocating loose leaf tea one sip at a time.

There are several reasons to choose loose leaf over tea bag tea, and we offer them here. If you, our fellow tea lovers, have other reasons we failed to mention, please share…

TASTE

There is absolutely no comparison. Most bag tea is the lowest tea grade (dust or fannings) that comes out of the production area. There are some exceptions, but generally, the tea is very small particles and holds little flavor. Every step in the processing of loose leaf tea is designed to enhance the flavor and taste.

QUALITY

There are also some exceptions, and just because you buy loose leaf tea does not mean it will be of excellent quality. We and all of our fellow tea enthusiasts search for teas with exceptional freshness, quality, and taste, and you should too. We call this our “tea journey.” Loose leaf tea allows you to examine, smell, listen, and sample for maximum quality.

VALUE

Despite what you may assume when first exploring the loose versus teabag conundrum, loose is more economical. Teabags are created for one-time use! Nearly all loose leaf tea varieties should be steeped at least twice, and some loose leaf teas can be steeped many more times. Work out the math, and you will be surprised how little loose-leaf costs you per cup.

SOCIAL

Loose leaf tea is perfect for brewing a pot of tea to share with others, the starting point for a meaningful conversation. Offering a cup of properly steeped loose leaf tea is a wonderfully kind gesture, hard for anyone to refuse.

ECO FRIENDLY

Just think how much packaging and bits of string you would save!

HEALTH BENEFITS

Whilst you may still gain some health benefits from tea bags, you will gain many more from loose leaf tea. My theory is that you will like the taste better and want to DRINK MORE, giving yourself the gift of good health.

Lastly, and for us, one of the most important reasons to drink loose leaf tea is the sheer enjoyment it brings into your life. Brewing a pot of tea for one is relaxing and contemplative, watching such majesty. Sharing a pot of tea with a friend is a nod to a more civilised era. The leaves gracefully dance in your pot and tantalize your taste buds with their fresh and fragrant bouquet.

Make time in your life for loose leaf tea and join Local Tea Company in helping all tea lovers to “THINK OUT OF THE BAG.”

Cheers,
the tea lady

Cloudy tea in the sunny summer?

Cloudy tea in the sunny summer?

Summer is here!  Cloudy Ice Tea

In case you have not visited us at the Sarasota downtown Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings, we have had some stunning teas available.  Logo for Sarasota Farmers Market in Florida

White Mischief – a beautiful China tea which is flavored with Guava,

Cochin Masala Chai – a very traditional, authentic chai which has superb iced,

Selby Select – another bush tea honoring Selby Gardens with juicy orange peel and a creamy finish ($1 off in August at our online shop),

Organic Strawberry Smile – strawberry, lychee, rosehips, and jasmine blended to perfection with a Sencha style green tea. (also $1 off in August at our online shop)

Every week we brew three teas and make them available for samples or for sale iced to beat the heat as you shop locally.

If you are making iced tea using our premium loose leaf teas, do not be alarmed if your iced tea goes cloudy.  This is a natural occurrence due to the high flavonoid/polyphenol levels in the tea. Your tea will still taste delicious!  Don’t worry about cloudy ice tea.

Happy sipping, and don’t forget to ‘sip locally.’

Cheers,
the tea lady

Talking Tea

Talking Tea

The past month in the tasting room at Selby Gardens, we have had many European visitors, especially British.  When they hear me speak, we inevitably talk about where we are from and the type of tea we drink.  Talking Tea, as I say.

The choices being PG Tips, Typhoo, Yorkshire, Twinning’s, etc., basically all the well-known tea bags available. There was also a gentleman who mentioned Brooke Bond, who was a real blast from the past! He was married to an American and lives in Sarasota.  His wife sourced the tea for him, and he was very pleased.

Brooke Bond

The name Brooke Bond took me on a journey back to the small village in the Yorkshire Dales where I was born and raised.  Our little grocery shop, run by Mrs. Gosney, had a large metal sign displayed outside in black and red advertising Brooke Bond!  Mum sent me to buy tea, and I remember Mrs. Gosney using an old fashioned scale with real weights and putting the weighed tea in a brown bag.Picture of old fashion scales used ot weigh lose leaf tea for Sip Locally Tea Blog by Local Tea Company

When I got home, mum would transfer the tea to our caddy (which I think was a tin that had once stored candy, probably Liquorices’ Allsorts). I can remember inhaling the most wonderful smell of fresh tea in the caddy. I was touched thinking about how we continue such practices, as I use such a caddy even now!

So, where did the name caddy come from?  During the early British trading days in Asia, a language called “pidgin English” was created to facilitate commerce. Composed of English, Portuguese and Indian words pronounced in Chinese, “Pidgin” is actually the word which was used for “do business.”  The term “caddy” is from the Chinese word for one pound, the standard size for a tea container.

We meet such nice people when we start talking about tea.  Great stories and legends are exchanged, and memories are evoked when we talk about this amazing drink called TEA.

Margaret Thatcher comes to tea

Margaret Thatcher comes to tea.

Margaret Thatcher Tea.  What a lovely week!   In the Carriagehouse Tea Room, I enjoyed conversations with many visitors from the States and beyond.  Besides, a few fellow Brits.  Everyone is interested in my story and how I started working with tea.  What a great life, making conversation, and drinking tea.

Talking of Brits, I served tea to the ‘Iron Lady’ herself!   However, in case you thought I was serious, the lady was an actor.  Margaret Thatcher Tea was the theme for the afternoon tea benefiting the Women’s Resource Center.  Our gracious hostess has a magnificent penthouse overlooking Sarasota Bay.  The tea and food service was on a collection of exquisite china.

Margaret Thatcher Tea, the Iron Lady herself from Local Tea Company in Sarasota, Florida

Iced Peach Paradise in wine goblets looked beautiful.  When the ladies ate sandwiches, our Margaret’s Hope Darjeeling was served.  With dessert, I served Goji Green tea.  Above all, both teas were very well received.  Why do I sound so surprised? All of the loose leaf teas offered at Local Tea Company are delicious!

There followed some discussion about Margaret Thatcher’s time in office.  How different it would be if she were in office today.

If I had been invited, I could have told a few home truths about my experiences during her ministry.  However, I was there to talk tea, so I did my short presentation about tea and ended with a Thatcher quote…

“If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman.”

In conclusion, Sip Locally with your very own Tea Lady at the gardens. Stay Cool.

Glynis

Tea Party for 110

Tea Party for 110

On Sunday dawned the day I served tea to the biggest tea party I have ever been involved with! This was definitely a first in my tea journey.

The occasion was to celebrate and give thanks to the Associates of Selby Gardens, all 110 of them and a bunch of tea lovers to boot! Not only that, they wanted the “Champagne of tea” Darjeeling. We selected a beautiful tea from the Tukdah Estate, which was the first flush TGFOP. I could not mess this one up!

Tea Party Prep

So, my dilemma. How to serve the perfect tasting, piping hot cup of tea to all these people? How much to make?  What time to start brewing?  When it boils down to it (sorry!), you just have to replicate what you do best when making tea for two. So that is just what I did, along with some helpers, of course.

I got together all the containers (one of these was a Silver Samovar, which looked fabulous) we were using.  I weighed the tea in correct proportions and got the kettles boiling! We steeped the leaves twice, first for 3 mins and second for 6 mins.  In my experience, this gives a well-balanced taste. It took one and a half hours to complete the process.

Tea Party Service

We delivered the tea to another building (no easy fete over the brick paving’s in the garden).  Then we decanted the hot tea into very nice Silver teapots owned by some of the Associates. The tables were served tea as the guests were invited to the buffet table. Each server came back for more and more tea!

It was a brilliant feeling seeing all those people slurping Darjeeling.  Sorry, Selby Associates don’t slurp, but you know what I mean.  We had plenty for everyone and very little leftover tea.

It was great to receive such good comments and no negatives. Then you start to ask yourself, why did I worry so much?

“If you say you can, you will” is a great motto.  And one which is working well for me this month, stir in a little love, and you have the perfect cups of tea.

So, if you are planning a BIG tea party, call yours truly.

The Tea Lady