Yusuf / Cat Stevens Tea?
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.
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.
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?
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.
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
I want to share a new tea with you, Festivi-Tea, created for the “Lights in Bloom” holiday celebration at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. Selby Gardens comes alive with brilliant lights, festive displays, and a spectacular Christmas tree made of bromeliads every year. Guests stroll through a magical garden filled with sparkling lights, live holiday music, and children’s activities.
Festivi-Tea will conjure up all your favorite yummy smells and tastes of this time of year. A blend of sencha and bancha green tea with dried orange cut almonds and cream of caramel. This tea is perfect for any evening, especially a night at Lights in Bloom.
Sencha (‘Sen’ meaning green and ‘cha’ meaning tea or ‘infused tea’) is a tea style. Harvested leaves are heated in a wok to prevent oxidation. The leaves have a slightly mellower ‘roasted’ flavor and characteristic thin, cylindrical shape.
Bancha or ‘common’ green tea is harvested from the second flush of leaves in late summer/autumn. The larger leaf gives a very mellow flavor and contains less caffeine.
Then we have the Holiday factor! Citrus peel, for me, is synonymous with Christmas. When I was a little girl, I remember how thrilled I was to get a bag of Oranges in my Christmas stocking. Oranges were expensive and hard to come by in the heart of Yorkshire. They were such a special treat! The peel of citrus fruit can be bitter and not very appetizing. However, it adds great flavor and health benefits when dried and added to tea.
Almonds are something I try to eat all year round for their healthy heart benefits. Almonds contain monounsaturated fats responsible for lowering LDL cholesterol. And for me, almonds conjure more Christmas memories. We always had nuts in the shells, and it was difficult to eat many as they were so hard to crack open. My sister and I usually lost interest after a short while, but we had such fun and very rosy cheeks from sitting by a roaring fire!
Cream of Caramel is a delicious ‘concoction’ of sugars and milk, dried and added to enhance this tea. I try to bring you teas with all-natural, healthy ingredients, but sometimes exceptions must be made at this is the time of year.
Festivi-Tea is easy to drink with subtle notes of all the ingredients as well as a smooth finish. Best hot, I think, though we have sampled iced Festivi-Tea at the Sarasota Farmer’s Market with wonderful results.
Please join us at Selby Gardens this year for Lights in Bloom starting December 17th (details at www.selby.org). Visit the Local Tea Company Carriage House to see our complete selection of tea and tea accessories.
I hope you enjoy Festivi-Tea as much I have enjoyed sharing my Christmas past with you.