Read along to each tea-pun-filled-episode via the below transcript, or listen and subscribe to the podcast on your favourite podcast app.

Episode 2 - Two Tea or Not Two Tea

Download a PDF copy of the transcript here

Episode 2 - Two Tea or Not Two Tea

Mike Nye (00:00):

Welcome, I’m Mike Nye.


Tarran Merlo (00:22):

And I’m Tarran Merlo from the Hail and Well Met podcast.


Alex C. Telander (00:26):

And I’m Alex C. Telander from the Ostium Network and welcome to our tea cast While There is Tea There is Hope.


Alex C. Telander (00:41):

Welcome to our second episode of our tea-cast, While There is Tea There is Hope. I wanted to start off by saying, explaining the name for this show, because I realize I forgot to do it in the last episode, in our first episode, which seems like a logical place for it. It seems kind of obvious the name While There is Tea There is Hope because I was going for a positive, happy, inspirational podcast about tea, but I also was partly inspired by a fridge magnet I have with those exact words. So it was partly seeing that fridge magnet and also our discussions about tea that led to the genesis of While There is Tea There is Hope. We’re also trying to make this a little more of a fun episode. Not that our first episode wasn’t fun, but it was very history and discussion heavy about the history of tea and a lot of the social ramifications of that. And we’re looking at a plan of doing alternate episodes where we’ll do a kind of history heavy episode and then be doing a more lighter, fun episode. And the goal is to make it a shorter episode, since that last episode was well over an hour and the goal had been, I think, 20 minutes. So we’ll see what this one, if it’s going to be shorter or not, again I’m thinking into 20 minute range, but we’ll see how much we have to talk about. And that leads me to introduce one of our other hosts. Last time we had Tarran, he couldn’t make it this time. And now we have Mike Nye, say hi Mike.


Mike Nye (02:09):

Hi Mike. Hi everyone.


Alex C. Telander (02:12):

And Mike, what are you drinking? This evening for me, but it’s morning for you.


Mike Nye (02:18):

It is morning for me. I’m drinking a tea by, by T2 and it’s a Japanese, what they call a GMC Sencha tea which is basically like a savory tea. It’s a green tea. And it has like it’s almost like puffed rice, like do, do you guys have rice bubbles in America?


Alex C. Telander (02:40):

Like bubble tea?


Mike Nye (02:42):

No, no, no. Like the breakfast cereal, like puffed rice.


Alex C. Telander (02:44):

Rice krispies. Or whatever. Yeah.


Mike Nye (02:47):

It’s kind of has like puffed rice in it, which gives it like a bit of a yeah, like a savory flavor, like yeah, it’s really nice. I recommend trying it. I think I sent you a little sample.


Alex C. Telander (03:03):

You did, I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m looking forward to it now, especially with this, it’s a little intimidating to see rice and tea, but now that you explained it makes more sense.


Mike Nye (03:10):

It’s very nice. Yeah. What are you drinking?


Alex C. Telander (03:15):

I am today drinking the simple peach black, black peach simple, I can’t remember what it is exactly. It’s from my Simple Tea subscription service probably be doing for another month or so, and then taking a break because they send me four teas every month and I haven’t even tried any of the new ones yet.


Mike Nye (03:35):

It’s a lot of tea to go through.


Alex C. Telander (03:35):

It is. I mean, they’re just sample packets, but still. But yeah, this is the simple peach black that I actually did get in the first sample. And I liked so much, I ordered a larger amount of it, which I now enjoy. It’s got got papaya and, and stuff like that. It’ll be one of my eventual tea recommendations, so I’ll go into more depth then, but I was just thinking since we’re on vastly different time differences here, one of the nice things about tea possibly over coffee is you can drink at any time.


Mike Nye (04:07):

Yes, yes you can. I mean, tea is still caffeinated, but like I’ve never had that problem where, you know, you have a coffee in the evening and then you have trouble sleeping. I’ve never ever had that with tea. So I don’t know. Maybe I’m certainly no scientist, but maybe the amount of caffeine is less or maybe there’s other chemicals.


Alex C. Telander (04:26):

I think, as I know with my wife, she’s had different teas where she knows not to have them at a certain time because they will wake her up or whatever that some of the other ones, it was like maybe the English breakfast or the stronger ones have more kick to them over other ones.


Mike Nye (04:40):

Yeah. For sure. I don’t, I don’t think I’d have an English breakfast at, at nighttime. Yeah, for sure.


Alex C. Telander (04:45):

I usually don’t care, whenever I feel like I just mentally think of it more as a relaxing thing than a caffeine thing that I need to keep me going. So since we have you on here, Mike, for the first time, let’s give a little bit of background on you. What’s your history with tea. Can you remember your earliest memory of drinking tea and getting into tea and any other memories and anecdotes related to tea?


Mike Nye (05:09):

Yeah, sure. I mean, as, as an Australian, certainly back when, when I was a kid in the eighties tea was well, that seemed to me anyway, to be much more popular than, than coffee. Certainly, you know, like choices back then. I mean maybe we would just like you know poor and I didn’t realize it right. But the choices seemed to be, you could have like, you know, Nescafe instant coffee or if you’re really posh, you would have like one of those French presses. But for the most part, Australians would drink tea. And I think that was mainly because you know, the, the British heritage you know, so as far as my earliest memory from tea goes . . .


Alex C. Telander (05:54):

Makes sense, sorry to interrupt, but it would make sense too with you kind of being closer to where a lot of tea is made, you know.


Mike Nye (06:03):

I’d never really thought of that to be honest, but, but no, that’s, that’s a good point. I mean, my grandmother on my dad’s side of the family, I remember we would go over there almost every weekend, cause they lived pretty close to us and my grandmother would always make tea and like a teapot on the stove. So, you know, boil the kettle on the stove and then, and then make tea. And I remember she would, she was heavily into knitting, so she would knit like a tea cozy for her teapot that I used to quite enjoy as a child cause I had lots of colors. And she had a very specific method of making tea. So she would follow the rule of, you know, one for each person and one for the pot. So you’d have a teapot with a whole bunch of the little teabag tags hanging out of the side of it. You would, she would let that brew probably while she had a cigarette. And then she would . . .


Alex C. Telander (07:00):

While knitting?


Mike Nye (07:00):

No, probably not while knitting, no, she would line all the cups up on the bench and put, you know, that, that much milk in. And then after the tea was brewed it would all get poured and handed out. And I remember she used to make me like a little weight sane. She probably put some sugar in it or something so that I would enjoy it.


Alex C. Telander (07:17):

Do you remember how old you were then?


Alex C. Telander (07:17):

Oh, it would have been single digits. I was pretty young. Yeah.


Alex C. Telander (07:20):

Cool. Cause we’re trying to, we’re trying to convince my kid to get into it. We keep letting him smell them and he’s like, oh, that smells good. And I’m like, yeah, you should try some.


Mike Nye (07:28):

Yeah. I, my daughter likes tea. Like if I’m making a cup of tea, she’ll ask for a cup of tea. So yeah. Yep. She’s more, more a fan of hot chocolate though.


Alex C. Telander (07:41):

Who isn’t though? I’d say who isn’t and then my kid isn’t actually, cause he’s not a huge chocolate fan.


Mike Nye (07:46):

Oh, wow. Yeah. Well there you go. Well my, my youngest doesn’t, doesn’t like ice cream, which is pretty weird.


Alex C. Telander (07:53):

He definitely likes that. Yeah. But it’s kind of a similar story to Tarran’s one that he told about his grandmother and I think even had a grandmother story or two in there too of just explaining them. And as a kid watching the whole process of it, the methodical process of making the tea and all this stuff. And I think Tarran had actually said that it was a, he always thought the tea was just throwing a bag in, throwing in some water and throwing it in the microwave for a bit. And then seeing his grandmother make it from, you know, the proper way and stuff like that really changed.


Mike Nye (08:29):

I mean, in Australia as well. I remember when we were kids we would have all kinds of, you know, people come and visit school, like you’d have incursions. And I remember once we had somebody come on and make Billy tea, which I think I’ve told you about before.


Alex C. Telander (08:44):

Right. But not everyone else knows. So give a little quick explanation.


Mike Nye (08:47):

So Billy tea is like an Australian, it’s not really a tradition, but it’s, it’s heavily, people talk about it when you’re doing Australiana, like if you go and do a tourist thing and they take you out to the Outback or whatever, chances are you’ll eat damper bread, which is a special type of bread that you brew in the coals of a campfire.


Alex C. Telander (09:11):

Like sourdough bread, if you come to San Francisco.


Mike Nye (09:15):

Yeah. And, and they will also make Billy tea and the way to make Billy tea is you have your Billy, which is basically a glorified paint tin that you fill up with water and sit on your campfire. And once that’s boiling, you add your tea ingredients to it. So whether that’s actual tea or whether that’s eucalyptus leaves, which is what they probably would have used you know, back in the day. And then they have a very interesting and highly dangerous technique of steeping that tea. And I suggest you look it up on YouTube if you’re listening and you don’t know what this is.


Alex C. Telander (09:54):

We’ll link it in the show notes. Definitely.


Mike Nye (09:56):

But they basically hold, hold the Billy in one hand. And then if you can imagine basically swinging it forwards and then backwards in, in like a wide arc over their head so that the centrifugal force holds the water in the tin. And yes it is, is as batshit crazy as it sounds.


Alex C. Telander (10:16):

I’m trying to remember, there’s a county fair, well, usually a county fair ride that they have at different fairs and stuff. That’s like that centrifugal force type thing that spins around and sticks you to the wall.


Mike Nye (10:28):

Oh yeah. They call it the Gravitron in Australia.


Alex C. Telander (10:32):

Yeah, that’s one. I think it’s the same name. Yeah. But that’s the same process with this. Yeah.


Mike Nye (10:37):

Hmm. And then you pull that out and you would drink, you drink your Billy tea and eat your damper and whatever else was on the menu.


Alex C. Telander (10:47):

How do you avoid getting eucalyptus leaves in the tea or is it supposed to be in the tea?


Mike Nye (10:49):

No, you put it in, put it in the tea and ah, the eucalyptus leaves up. So what you mean when you pour it out? Well, they’re quite large. So I guess you would just pull it out. Yeah.


Alex C. Telander (11:01):

Maybe the lip of the paint can is the key to holding it in. And have you tried Billy tea?


Mike Nye (11:09):

I probably have maybe when I was a kid, but I don’t think it would have been with eucalyptus leaves. It probably would have been with tea cause yeah, I certainly don’t remember drinking eucalyptus leaf tea anyway.


Alex C. Telander (11:23):

Well we haven’t, we haven’t totally committed but we have talked about it because eucalyptus is also over here in California only as an invasive species. So we’re saying, we were joking around, we can grab some eucalyptus leaves and give it a try on one of the episodes maybe.


Mike Nye (11:41):

Yeah. We’ll definitely have to take that I think. Yeah, for sure.


Alex C. Telander (11:45):

So to me using eucalyptus leaves sounds like it might not be the official thing that one would call tea which segues into a perfect little punny segment: to tea or not to tea, what is, and what isn’t tea Mike?


Mike Nye (12:05):

Well, so first of all, I don’t want to come off as being like a gatekeeper of, you know, tea like, if, if there’s a certain type of tea you like . . .


Alex C. Telander (12:16):

Tea keeper?


Mike Nye (12:16):

Yeah. Then that’s fine, you know, you, you drink it and you enjoy it. Right. So, so don’t think I’m being, I dunno, “teaist” or whatever. Snobbish,


Alex C. Telander (12:27):

Yeah, exactly. I’ve been joking with Tarran as a tea snob.


Mike Nye (12:32):

But to me true tea is tea that contains tea leaves. Right. So I looked it up actually, and the plant is called the Camellia sinensis. I’m probably butchering that pronunciation . . .


Alex C. Telander (12:44):

I think that Tarran talked a little bit about this in the last episode, but it’s good to repeat it to kind of help it sink in better. Because I totally forgot.


Mike Nye (12:53):

Well, yeah. So, so the leaf from that plant make up what you know, what most people I think would probably refer to as tea and then if you think of a, a continuum, like a horizontal line, I think at one end, you’ve got true tea at the other end you’ve got Nesquik. Right? So do you, do you have nest quick in the States?


Alex C. Telander (13:10):

Yes. The hot chocolate stuff, right?


Mike Nye (13:14):

Yeah. Pretty much flavored milk.


Alex C. Telander (13:17):

Yeah. Or Ovaltine.


Mike Nye (13:21):

Yeah. Ovaltine. Right. So what I think is at one end of the spectrum, you’ve got your black tea, your green tea, white tea, oolong tea, fermented tea, proper matcha, not that green sugary, horrible stuff that they serve at cafes which is basically tea that is just tea leaves. Right. And then I think you start adding stuff to tea that’s natural. And I reckon that’s things like Earl Grey where you add Bergamot things like you know, tea like masala chai for example, which is like tea, but then has spices added and things.


Alex C. Telander (13:55):

Yeah, cardamom and cinnamon and stuff like that.


Mike Nye (13:58):

And then I think you move into the herbal teas that technically don’t contain tea. So you’d probably call them a tisane, which is still natural things like maybe, you know, lemon and you know, what, what Tarran was drinking the other day that I can’t remember. And things like that, which I don’t know whether I’d personally consider that tea, I’d probably call it a tisane, but at the end of the day, you know, whatever, if you’d be, if you want to call it tea, it’s made with hot water and it’s, you know, stuff coming out of it. So.


Alex C. Telander (14:25):

And you’re calling a tea and enjoying it. So you’re totally fair too. That’s fine. Do you know where the term tissane came from at all? Or . . .


Mike Nye (14:32):

I don’t actually, I should look it up.


Alex C. Telander (14:36):

I was kind of curious because it’s like a, it’s like a clear, like, long word that’s opposite to teas Like, is that why they picked it?


Mike Nye (14:44):

I mean, it just says, I’m having a quick look now just as herbal teas, less commonly called tisanes, but it doesn’t really tell you where the word comes from, oh sorry, apparently we’re pronouncing it wrong. I think it’s ti-zane, according to, free plug there, send us a check. So yeah. And then I reckon past that is where you’ve got what T2 the, the shop referred to is their sugar tisanes, which is basically, effectively Nesquik. Right? Like, I think I sent you one earlier and it was actually, I got it. I got a, like a marketing email from them today. Let me just bring this up and read you . . . I mean, they see the kinds of tea I buy, right. So there’s no excuse for them sending me this, the subject of the email: Exercise Your Sweet Tooth. Right. And the tea is, and I’m not even joking. It’s called, where is it? Poppin’ Praline. Right. A smooth, robust landscape of hazelnut, praline flavors without the guilt. And I bring up their website and have a look at the ingredients. Right. And there is not a skerrick of tea in there. It’s all artificial flavorings, colorings, you know, MSG, et cetera, et cetera. So to me that that’s nowhere near tea.


Alex C. Telander (16:06):

What was other one we were looking at earlier? What was that? That was a different one?


Mike Nye (16:10):

Let me look. That that was a different one, but I, yeah.


Alex C. Telander (16:14):

I was just looking at the ingredients and being like, oh, look, here’s five different kinds of sugars, you know, bunch of artificial stuff, nothing real in it at all.


Mike Nye (16:24):

Yeah. Well actually, you know, I’ve, I’ve said all of this now, this actually does have black tea in it. So my apologies T2. So that’s why they sent it to me. Try and find that one I sent you earlier. Oh, where is it? Where is it? I should have had it up already, just terrible podcasting. Turkish apple cinnamon instant tea. So, first of all, the fact that it says instant, I guess, is a dead giveaway, but yeah.


Alex C. Telander (16:54):

Much like instant coffee, instant, anything.


Mike Nye (16:57):

When, when the number one ingredient for a tea is sugar. I think it’s, it’s, it’s not looking good.


Alex C. Telander (17:03):

It’s a warning sign. I mean, it makes sense. I guess, with all the kind of, you know, various coffee drinks you can get from, you know, Starbucks, Peet, all these places that certain ones, they’re just very heavily sugared with all these different flavors.


Mike Nye (17:20):

Oh yeah, I was gobsmacked when I went to America and I went to a Starbucks for the first time, big deal for me. And I just wanted like a flat white coffee. Right. And, and the person in front of me was like you know, I want to a Frappuccino with a shot of hazelnut and all that and listed all these things out. And I was like, why, why don’t you just go and get a milkshake and put it in a microwave for a few minutes anyway.


Alex C. Telander (17:46):

So you said it was your first Starbucks. Do you not have Starbucks where you are then?


Mike Nye (17:51):

We do. Not in Western Australia. There is one that I know of, which is in Queensland at a place called the Gold Coast or the Sunshine Coast. I can’t remember exactly where it was. I think it was the Gold Coast. And there’s a Starbucks there. So I actually, it was my second time that I’ve been to a Starbucks, first time in the States, like a proper Starbucks.


Alex C. Telander (18:17):

It reminds me of the the time I went to a Starbucks in London. I don’t remember where it was, whatever, but just going in there and seeing the the fridge case with all the different cakes and various things or whatever, and just having it laid out exactly as it is, as in America was very surreal, just thinking like, oh, wow, they just have exactly the same map that you work off of wherever. It was interesting.


Mike Nye (18:43):

Yeah. It’s funny. Isn’t it? When you, you have these franchises and they operate identically everywhere in the world, except for maybe the product naming, you know, like that scene in Pulp Fiction, you know, Royale with cheese. Yeah.


Alex C. Telander (18:58):

So our next little bit is “tea time.” So you briefly mentioned the different types of tea. You threw out some names there. So if we can go a little more into depth on what each one is and how they’re different from the other.


Mike Nye (19:12):

Yeah, sure. So, I mean, there’s, there’s black, white and green tea, right. And they’re the main types of your, your base tea, I guess. So, so from memory, the differences are all to do with the amount that they are dried or, or baked or, or otherwise processed. So I think black tea is like the highest level of oxidation and white tea is slightly less. And then green tea is no oxidization, that’s just the raw possibly dried, but, but raw tea leaves.


Alex C. Telander (19:47):

So the leaf, it’s actually the same leaf for all of them?


Mike Nye (19:50):

Yeah. It’s the same way for all of them. Although having said that, so there are different types or different grades, I guess you could say. So I know that the Sencha that I’m drinking today, for example, is harvested at a certain time and they also grow the tea leaves in different conditions. Like, I think there’s Sencha that you can get that is grown in the shade. I think they put big nets up to keep you know, to give it some shade, but enough light for the plant to grow and thrive. So yeah, I know that there’s like many, many iterations and I’m certainly no expert. Right. but yeah, they’re the main, they’re the main ones. And then you’ve also got other tea, I guess I’m calling them tea, I guess they’re not really tea based on our previous discussion, but things like I think it’s rooibos, I don’t, I don’t know how to pronounce it which is a different plant, but people still make it like tea and it’s, I guess it’s accepted as tea. Then you have things like chamomile tea, which has chamomile instead of tea and, and chrysanthemum tea, and things like that, basically.


Alex C. Telander (21:02):

And do you know if, off the top of your head, but rooibos is usually from Africa, isn’t it?


Mike Nye (21:07):

Yes. It’s from an African plant and I think one of its main selling points is it’s not caffeinated at all or very lightly. I can’t remember. Yeah. Sorry, I’m not a very good interviewee.


Alex C. Telander (21:23):

Just breaking down some basics, because I always thought it was more, just different types of leaves, but hearing it’s all basically how you prepare that same leaf much like it reminds me a lot of surprisingly of wines, you know, and how you do what type of grape it is, how it turns out that particular time and how you prepare it and do all those things with it.


Mike Nye (21:44):

So like with certain teas as well, like some of the Chinese and Japanese teas, I do things like they take the leaves and they ferment them or they cook them or they, you know, I think even the Sencha stuff we’re drinking now, I think they boil it. So it’s kind of like you’re drinking, you know, I don’t want to say secondhand tea because that sounds bad, but tea that’s already been steeped once, you know?


Alex C. Telander (22:11):

I mean, there’s really no limit to the various things you can do to it, to kind of try something new and different. That explains why there’s thousands of different kinds of tea.


Mike Nye (22:23):

But yeah, the main, yeah. And Nesquik. The main differences I think is yeah. The level of oxidization of the tea leaves and then what is done to those tea leaves


Alex C. Telander (22:33):

Right. That leads in then to our tea rec section. So do you have a tea you’d like to recommend this week? That you like.


Mike Nye (22:43):

Well, I mean the one on drinking is very, very good. I like it quite a lot. It’s certainly not sweet. So I’d say that it’s more, more of a savory tea and Sencha is, is yeah, like a nice, a nice tea leaf. Actually. One of the things that might be worth checking out if you haven’t is in the, in the green tea family that Sencha is from, there is a tea called matcha. And what that is just it’s green tea leaves that are ground up like think mortar and pestle into a powder. So that’s one of the, one of the few tea drinks where the leaves are actually ingested. I mean, you can, you know, there’s certainly nothing wrong with ingesting. I mean, I’m no doctor, so, but from what I read, there’s certainly nothing wrong with ingesting tea leaves anyway, but, matcha is one that is designed to be to be drunk. Some cafes will have, you know, how you’d like you can get chai latte, which isn’t really tea it’s kind of like a, I mean, they’re delicious. Yeah, but it’s certainly not like, you know masala chai. So in the same way, some cafes in Australia have like a matcha green, green tea latte, which is probably more towards the Nesquik side of things. I think it does still have tea in, but it is, it is very sweet.


Alex C. Telander (24:06):

Matcha is actually pretty big over here, especially I think in California. And I think it skews more to the actual type of stuff. I’m just trying to look up, there’s a, I’m trying to find out what the company is, they’re in the town where I work, they’re headquartered there and I’m trying to what their name is that their specialty is matcha tea. But do you, for the tea you’re having now, for example, what have you done anything extra to it, have you added sugar or milk, different things or just . . .


Mike Nye (24:37):

Nothing. I drink that one straight. Yeah. I don’t know whether it would be nice with milk. I, maybe I should go and get some and try it, maybe towards the end of the pot, I’ll give it a try, but it’s quite savory, you know like I tend to want to add milk to tea that’s you know, not savory or maybe slightly sweeter. Like I will drink the French Earl Grey tea black, but I like it with just a dash of milk. But this green tea, I’m not sure where the milk would go with it. Yeah. I’ll have to try it and report back; if we’re still recording when I’m down to my last teapot here, when I’m down to my last cup I’ll go and get some milk, and try it and let you know.


Alex C. Telander (25:22):

Now I always, I mean, I have I’ve, haven’t had too much matcha, but I always think of as kind of bitter, is that correct? Or no?


Alex C. Telander (25:29):

Well, I, yeah, I think it does have a little bit of bitterness, but it depends. It depends what you get, right. Like if you get the matcha latte, is that the cafes do, it’s quite sweet, like a child latte where, you know, I think they’ve taken the original thing, like, like the, the spice chatty or the matcha tea. And then they’ve turned that into a new type of drink by adding, you know, sugar and other stuff to it and prepare it with like hot milk instead of water, you know, more like a, like a coffee, like a latte or something like that. And I’ve certainly had those and you know, they’re, they’re very nice, but I yeah, I think that it’s more of a flavored milk thing than a tea thing.


Alex C. Telander (26:12):

So I did find it and it turns out I’ve totally messed up the word. So it’s actually, I was thinking of Yerba Mate.


Mike Nye (26:20):

Oh, what is that?


Alex C. Telander (26:22):

Which is, I think it’s a different, again, going to have to do some research on this. But I believe it’s the South American type of, I don’t want to say tea but it’s type of ingredient kind of thing. And so the company, yeah. Guayaki is the company that shipps all over the world and everything in there, but where I work, yeah. Pull it up real quick.


Mike Nye (26:44):

Yeah. Looks like yerba mate.


Alex C. Telander (26:46):

Yeah, exactly.


Mike Nye (26:50):

I see, they’ve been around for awhile. Oh, you can get it in cans. Hey, that’s pretty cool.


Alex C. Telander (26:57):

Yeah. Well they have, and it’s a lot of like, if they have a lot of yeah. Cause I know particularly cause as a mail carrier, when I’d ever deliver I have to deliver an express package to their office and you go up there and have them sign for it. They’d say grab a free tea from their refrigerator case.


Mike Nye (27:17):

Really? That’s really nice of them.


Alex C. Telander (27:17):

So I get to try all these different like pomegranate and peach and just different things. Yeah.


Mike Nye (27:23):

Yeah. Okay. So is yerba mate, is that, is it tea or is it like rooibos?


Alex C. Telander (27:31):

The plant species of the Holly genus ilex native to South America?


Mike Nye (27:37):

Yeah. Okay. Interesting.


Alex C. Telander (27:40):

So it’s a similar kind of different? I mean, again, that’s not the, the, the long word you said at the beginning when we were talking about tea.


Mike Nye (27:47):

An infusion, maybe, I don’t know, what would you call it if it’s not tea?


Alex C. Telander (27:52):

But I mean, it’s, it’s a different leaf, so technically, the fact that they called it, you know, this one particular leaf is the only thing it could be called tea you know, made it a little bit. I mean, that affected things. Whereas now you have rooibos or different other leaves and plants that you can use even eucalyptus to make a similar sort of yeah. Cause maybe it was tea always meant, you know, leaves steeping and water to make a particular brew. Yeah. Because that’s what I remember as being a little bitter aftertaste and stuff. Okay. And so it’s supposed to be healthy or something like that too. It’s why it’s big over here in California. Anyway, so now I’m going to do my little recommendation.


Mike Nye (28:33):

Please, what are you recommending?


Alex C. Telander (28:36):

The T2 Sydney breakfast, which I thought about having tonight here. But then I thought it’d be a bit cheap to be talking about at the beginning and then recommending it later on.


Mike Nye (28:46):

Oh, but that’s what I’ve just done.


Alex C. Telander (28:53):

Yeah. But then you also talked about a different one too. That’s true. It’s only the second episode. Yeah, we’ve got a lot of teas to get through, so, but I wanted to go back to this one. So it’s the T2 Sydney breakfast. And when I was looking at the website earlier, they do have it blazing across the top that if you do an order over over $35 bucks, you get free shipping, which is pretty good. Even to America. Yeah. Oh, wow. Specifically to the United States. It says, yeah, right at the top of the page there. I think it was one of the first ones you sent me. And it’s let’s read the little description: “Bright, fresh and bold, this is the character of Sydney in a tea, a warm full-bodied breakfast tea blend with delicious hint of bergamot to send your senses sailing around the Harbor.” When I did try that one, and then you had the, we should also say if it was the, the French Earl Grey. And and I think I talked a bit about this before I felt found the French Earl Grey being a little too perfumey me for my liking, whereas this, and I was thinking about it today because it’s called the Sydney Breakfast. It’s kind of has the strength of like the an English Breakfast, a lot stronger I find too you can make it. And it talks about how it only has in the ingredients or a little bit of bergamot, not a lot of it, you know, sort of think about your regular Earl Grey. But I find it’s just the right balance of having a really nice, strong, like I’m thinking of strong black tea that has the hint of bergamot around it. So it’s my always go-to that I enjoy.


Mike Nye (30:38):

No for sure. That’s a good one. I’ve got that on my, my bench in the kitchen as well. And we have that quite often. It’s funny because we got quite a few of their, you know, city breakfast teas that they have cause they have like a Melbourne Breakfast and all this sort of stuff. And I think basically they’re just varying degrees of Earl Grey. Right?


Alex C. Telander (30:56):

Right. Yeah. Again, it’s your level of, I don’t know how much they’re varying with the black tea. I mean what, well, well, if it’s Earl Grey will it be prepared the same way as the black, the actual tea leaf?


Mike Nye (31:05):

Yeah. I think, I think it’s a, it’s a black tea, so but yeah, I see what you mean. I’m not sure. Maybe, maybe they, they bake it for, you know or dry it for different amount of time.


Alex C. Telander (31:17):

When you look at ingredients that don’t actually tell you like this just as black tea and natural bergamot flavor. But to me it’s clear that this over like the, the French Early Grey, this one is . . .


Mike Nye (31:32):

Extremely perfumed. I mean, that’s got like rose pedals and stuff in it. That’s yeah. Yeah. I hear ya. I don’t think I would have a French Earl Grey for breakfast. That’s for sure. But I mean, quite often my wife and I will have a glass of the French Earl Grey, like of an evening, like before bed. That’s that’s a nice one I think to have, have before bed.


Alex C. Telander (31:52):

Well, and then the first episode, we both, both Tarran and I were happened to be drinking the Twining’s Earl Grey, which is on a similar spectrum where it’s not, I would put it in between the French Earl Grey and the Sydney Breakfast sort of thing of not being too perfumey, but not . . . I always think you can make it pretty strong, but if you look on the tin, it actually says it’s like a medium strength, which is interesting.


Mike Nye (32:16):

Yeah. I mean, the thing about Earl Greys, I never used to like it before I had the Sydney Breakfast. The one that I sent you that was like the gateway drug into Earl Grey teas for me.


Alex C. Telander (32:29):

And speaking of gateway drug, I’m very happy you sent me a huge shipment in the last package.


Mike Nye (32:36):

No worries. I’m glad. I’m glad that it got to you finally, there was a long wait there. I apologize.


Alex C. Telander (32:44):

Well, it wasn’t your fault. It was the pandemic, but I don’t know, we’re not talking about that here.


Mike Nye (32:48):



Alex C. Telander (32:49):

But it’s just really a nice strong black tea. I mean, I grew up drinking a lot of Earl Grey. My wife has, she doesn’t really drink black . . . doesn’t really drink Earl Grey anymore, mainly because she drank it too much once one summer, but it’s, she’s even says the smell of it reminds her of past family holidays with my family and stuff. Cause we all drink it and stuff. Yeah


Mike Nye (33:15):

Yeah. I mean, it’s interesting because I think for me, like I’m, I’m very interested in trying new flavors and trying lots of different things. Right. Whereas growing up my, my father you know, who is the main tea drinker in the house would only ever have English Breakfast tea that’s it, we would only have you know, Lipton or, or I forget what the brand was, but we would only have the English Breakfast. So when I, whenever I thought tea, that’s what I thought tea was and then sort of growing up, you know, and people being in Perth at, at university there’s a great deal of like Chinese, Singaporean you know that, that general region and sorry, I’m not meaning to offend anyone, but lots of those students who I would become friends with, and then they would say, oh, you know, do you want some tea and I’d say, oh, I’d love a cup of tea. And then they would give you something completely different. Like you might have oolong tea or Jasmine tea or something like that. And and I’d be like, oh, wow, what is this? It tastes ;ike nothing I’ve ever had before. And then you realize, Oh, there’s so many different types of tea and, and then you want to go and try them all.


Alex C. Telander (34:28):

Yeah. And then you get to come back and talk about them on the show.


Mike Nye (34:32):

That’s right. Yeah.


Alex C. Telander (34:33):

That’s the whole point. SMaybe we’ll do another not the next episode, but maybe the one after that, we’ll talk about the, the, the standard teas that we think about like Lipton,Tetley’s the one I get a lot of here because they have it and just think of all the different, we can throw out all these names and stuff like that. And in the more historical episodes, we’ll go into more detail with them of the history and stuff like that. But for, for our episode after next, we can more just kind of talk about them and what we think of the most of, you know, growing up with them and being surrounded by them and stuff. Okay, so now we’re going to go to our last little segment. We’ll see how this goes. Tea puns.


Mike Nye (35:13):

Oh God. I asked my wife about this strap because I’m really bad at, at puns. For the most part. Tarran is very good at them. My wife is very good at them as well. And I said, I need a tea pun, you know, help me. And and, and she brought out this little card. Oh, I don’t have it. I don’t know where she put it. She’s gone out now. I’ll, I’ll scan it and send it to you so you can put it on the show notes, but yeah, she has a little painting of a dinosaur and it’s a T-Rex with a cup of tea and it’s says “tea-rex” with tea instead of T. So that’s, that’s about as good as I can come up with.


Alex C. Telander (35:48):

You could put that on a mug, it could be everywhere. Yeah. Actually, maybe I should get that, show that to Owen and that might work to get him to drink tea.


Mike Nye (35:54):

Oh yeah. Maybe you should.


Alex C. Telander (35:56):

Yeah. well I just, I was, I could have worked on trying to think of one, but I just did. I had to Google around a bit. So there were some horrible ones and terrible ones, mostly horrible, terrible. And then some decent ones. So a couple I found were: “sweet dreams are made of teas,” which is obviously a play on the song, but I thought it was a nice little, the sentiment of it. You know, you would have a cup of tea before you go to bed and sleep.


Mike Nye (36:22):

True. That is true. Yeah. Or the start of a, like a, a day where you’re going to go and do lots of cool stuff that you’re going to remember. Maybe.


Alex C. Telander (36:30):

Yeah. There you go. Yeah. I have a nice big, strong cup of tea in the morning and get you going, and then the other terrible one was: “50 shades of Earl Grey.”


Mike Nye (36:39):

Oh wow. That’s . . . yeah.


Alex C. Telander (36:44):

Maybe we can amass a list of 50 kinds of Earl Grey to include, or maybe you can do an interesting imagery for that, you know, picture of some sort. I don’t know. I guess, there you go, okay, I got it. It’s the tea bag and the string with the tag at the end is your whip, whipping the mug or something. Okay. We might do tea puns again. We’ll see. I’m sure Tarran will want a crack at it.


Mike Nye (37:17):

Yeah, get Tarran turned onto it, he’s good at puns.


Alex C. Telander (37:19):

Yeah. But that, I think does it about for this episode, any last things you want to say, Mike?


Mike Nye (37:26):

I don’t think so. What am I trying to do maybe for a future episode is back when I was a kid, there was a lot of tea advertisement on TV. I don’t really watch a lot of like free to wear TV these days. So I’m not sure whether they’re still on, but I, I vividly remember a lot of them. So I’ll, I’ll see if I can dig up some of the ones from the eighties and nineties.


Alex C. Telander (37:46):

A lot of those ads tend to be on YouTube. So I’m sure you can find there, I mean, that’s another potential episode, too on tea ads and stuff.


Mike Nye (37:55):

Yeah, for sure.


Alex C. Telander (37:57):

Okay. Well, thank you for everyone joining us for this second episode.


Mike Nye (38:02):

Thanks for having me.


Alex C. Telander (38:02):

Our next one will be a big dive again into the history of tea and different regions and times of tea and things like that. So stay tuned for our next one, which will be a nice long line probably again, and hopefully we’ll get all three of us together for that. All right. Thanks everyone.


Mike Nye (38:19):

Thank you.


Tarran Merlo (38:32):

Thank you for listening to While There is Tea There is Hope. This episode featured Mike Nye and Alex C. Telander. It was produced by Tarran Merlo. Details of the music featured in this episode can be found in the show notes. You can find out more about this show at our growing website, And we hope you can join us for our next episode, which will be out on the 1st of April. Thank you for listening and continue to have a tea-rrific time.

Download a PDF copy of the transcript here

Episode 1 - A Tale of Two Teas

Mike Nye (00:00:00):

Welcome, I’m Mike Nye.


Tarran Merlo (00:00:21):

And I’m Tarran Merlo from the Hail and Well Met podcasts.


Tarran Merlo (00:00:24):

And I’m Alex C. Telander from the Ostium Network and welcome to our tea cast While There is Tea There is Hope.


Alex C. Telander (00:00:42):

Welcome to our first episode of While There is Tea There is Hope. If you found us, it probably means you like tea in some way, or, you know us hosts perhaps and want to hear our voices or something. With me, I’ve got Tarran Merlo say hi.


Tarran Merlo (00:01:05):



Alex C. Telander (00:01:06):

And he’ll talk lots more later. I just wanted to talk a little bit about why I wanted to start this podcast. In addition to the many other podcasts that I do. I love tea, I’ve loved tea for a long time. If you’ve listened to Ostium, you should be able to pick that up. Monica’s tea obsession comes straight from me and with everything going on right now with the pandemic and with our social upheaval: the pandemic is a bad thing, the social upheavals a good thing. I wanted to try and do something positive and uplifting for me, for my friends who are co-hosting with us on here, and also for listeners to, to kind of give something positive and uplifting. And I thought tea is something I care deeply about. And I thought it would be something new and interesting to try and educate me more on tea and the history of tea, and also the listeners, and co-hosts. I actually got hold of a book that goes into the whole history of tea called, A Thirst For Empire: How Tea Shaped the Modern World by Erica Rapport published in 2017 from Princeton University Press. And that’s going to, I’m going to be quoting quite a bit from that. Just cause it’s got some really good history and I feel some really good point of view and perspective on tea, which as it’s mainly or greatly drunk by the Western World, it comes from, it is created by people of color. So it feels like a good time to be kind of addressing this in a podcast where I talk about something that I like, but also going into how privileged we are by being able to have an endless supply of tea at the click of a button.


Tarran Merlo (00:02:57):



Alex C. Telander (00:02:58):

I wanted to start out with a few facts and quotes I took from the book about tea. Admiral Lord Mountevans, the regional commissioner for civil defense in London, during the war said it gave us courage and that matey feeling, which gets the best effort out of us to help our fellow humans. An advertising slogan said tea revives you, there were posters that were put around proclaiming there is health in good tea. The Chinese understood the tea had restorative properties centuries before the German scientist Friedlieb Runge discovered caffeine in 1819. Many believed that it could cure headaches, constipation, and various other serious disorders. I’m about 60, 70 pages into the book now and hearing more and more on how teas are supposed to fix all of these different things just with a single cup.


Tarran Merlo (00:03:56):

When I was looking back through some of the advertising slogans and one that you mentioned of tea revives you, a lot of advertising going on with tea and specifically around rationing and those sorts of things during the great depression and, and through the World Wars. And a lot of that was around the same time that cigarette use was also advertised in a very, very similar vein for its health benefits and its nice and positive impacts on your life. And it, it was a really interesting sort of juxtaposition going back through some of those, those old ads going hang on, one of those is clearly wrong while the other one is pretty much right.


Alex C. Telander (00:04:34):

Right. And still very popular. All right. So let’s uh, Tarran, if you can give a bit of intro who you are and your earliest memory of drinking tea.


Tarran Merlo (00:04:46):

Yeah. So yeah, as, as you’ve said, Alex, thank you for having me on board today. I’m, Tarran from Hail and Well Met. We do a few podcasts ourselves and I’ve done a few collaborations with, with yourself, Alex, through through Ostium. Worked on, on the Circe podcast with you as well. And had some, some deep interest into Manifestations as well. So that’s, it’s been great to great, to be a part of those and be involved in them as well. So I’m sort of honored to be recording with you today. As you said, clearly tea has been a pretty critical component of all things Ostium for awhile. But as, as you said as well, it’s been a pretty key component of worldwide cultures for as long as we’ve been around. For me personally, my first memory of tea, well maybe the most critical one that the one that stands out the most is one of the early ones I had was with my, my Nana, my mom’s mom. She used to take care of my brother and myself over the school holidays. Yeah, mom and dad both worked. And my Nan used to make a cup of tea and I remember asking her what on earth you’re doing, because to me I’d made cup of teas for mum and dad before you put a teabag in a mug, put some water in it, stick it in the microwave for a minute and a half and, and you’re done, that’s, that’s a cup of tea, but yeah, no, no. When she, she boiled the kettle, took five minutes to boil this, this pot of water, takes out this ceramic teapot, puts a strainer on the top, puts these weird leaves in the top of that, pours this boiling water over it. And then this thing sits there for a good 10 minutes before she pours out a cup on this, this porcelain tea cup on a saucer, a little bit of milk, little bit of sugar. And, and it was this 15 to 20 minute process, this whole elaborate ritual to go through.


Alex C. Telander (00:06:37):

Did she have a tea cozy too?


Tarran Merlo (00:06:37):

She didn’t, she didn’t, living in Western Australia things don’t tend to get cold pretty quick, mainly the opposite, unfortunately. And, and she made me one and that was probably my first properly made cup of tea. And, and yeah, I’ve, I’ve kind of enjoyed them ever since. That was a sort of fairly plain English Breakfast. Yeah. As close to generic tea, as you can probably get in the market now.


Alex C. Telander (00:07:04):

Now: milk and or sugar?


Tarran Merlo (00:07:06):

For my Nana, it was a definite must. For me, for a long time, it was both. And I’m ashamed to admit that it was, it was milk and a number of teaspoons of sugar, but much more like . . .


Alex C. Telander (00:07:21):

But it sounds like she made it pretty strong. So . . .


Tarran Merlo (00:07:24):

Yeah. I think that lasted her a good three or four cups with a little bit of myself. So, but no, for me over time, I’ve definitely definitely gone off the sugar altogether, sort of both tea and coffees. Not that that’s, that’s a bit of a dirty word in this podcast, I think, but . . .


Alex C. Telander (00:07:41):

Oh no, you can talk about it. That’s, that’s in part of the history too, because coffee and tea were, you know, being shipped over from colonies and everything. Yeah, exactly.


Tarran Merlo (00:07:49):

But no, definitely, definitely no sugar. And the milk really depends on what, what the tea is and my mood, but no, most of the time, most of the time it’s milk-less, it sort of has a bit of flavor to it in a lot of instances.


Alex C. Telander (00:08:07):

I think for me, it was again a kind of similar thing where my mum was always drinking tea. My dad he’ll drink tea, but not so much, occasionally he’s more of a coffee person. But I think probably just seeing my mum drink tea so much, maybe want to try it. And I don’t really remember exactly when, but just all of a sudden it was, I’m a tea drinker and drinking it every night. And I can remember one really weird, old distant memory from . . . I’m trying to think. I must have been maybe 10 or younger and it was, let me think. Not my Nana, but her sister. So my aunt Ada, and it was between her and my cousin. At, I can’t remember. I think it was the cousin’s house. So the cousin was about four years older than me, or something like that, and just, they’re all sitting at the table. I wasn’t there. I was with the younger kids and they’re all sitting there drinking tea and they got their tea confused and they’re like holding the cups. And they’re like, is this your tea? I don’t know. This is your tea maybe? We’ve got a mixed up. And I still, I really remember just how I think how like refined and polite it all seemed with the drinking tea all together. There are, they


Tarran Merlo (00:09:16):

Almost like a comedy routine.


Alex C. Telander (00:09:19):

And they’re all just so like, you know, being British, so proper and polite about it, you know, me looking from the outside, I was like, hmm. Interesting. So, as you mentioned earlier, you’re drinking tea. So what are you drinking right now?


Tarran Merlo (00:09:34):

Right now? I am sampling . . . I am, I’m drinking the Twinings Earl Grey.


Alex C. Telander (00:09:45):

Cheers. Same thing!


Tarran Merlo (00:09:49):

I have to say. My, my cup is probably a little bit less fancy than yours. I’ve got, we’re not actually saying this. That’s, that’s a, a cup I got from my, my wife and my birthday. I want to be a nice person, but everyone is so stupid.


Alex C. Telander (00:10:03):

Mine is from . . . My wife got one and it’s like the perfect size for tea, a good large amount, but not too much and not too little. And so we got a second, managed to get a second one, so she’s Libra, but so we use them a lot. So we got through it because I’m always drinking from them too. Okay.


Tarran Merlo (00:10:18):

Yes, I cheated a little bit. So I’ve got my, my cup, but then I’ve got my pot. So I’ve got my top up for when I empty the smaller cup.


Alex C. Telander (00:10:26):

When you need to, depending on how long we go on. But yeah, Twining’s Earl Grey loose leaf, we’re on the same page there. This is the last little bit of it I had, but that’s because I have more tea coming later this week. So I think I’ll be okay.


Tarran Merlo (00:10:39):

Not in short supply then . . .


Alex C. Telander (00:10:41):

Just of the Twining’s Earl Grey, which has lasted me since, when was that, Christmas I think. Yeah. Okay.


Tarran Merlo (00:10:49):

I mean, I think that the Earl Grey obsession and I’ll call it an obsession because that’s kind of been my staple for a long time is is directly I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a massive star Trek fan. And as such, you can’t go past you know, a cup of Picard’s favorite. Although in saying that I don’t really like my tea Earl Grey hot. Yeah. For me, sort of Earl Grey should be on that verge of being almost too hot to drink, but cool enough that if you’re about to rush out for a meeting or something, you know, you can down the whole cup if you have to in a hurry, but even making this cup here, as soon as the hot water hit it just that that smell of the bergamot came through and it sort of was, ah, that’s why I liked it.


Alex C. Telander (00:11:33):

And you really want you it to steep for five minutes. Yeah. I, my wife started having this one too and had it too much and got sick of it. So she likes other different kinds of Earl Greys, but the Twining’s one has always been my go to again, I think because again, I think my mum doesn’t mind that one as much, but my dad does and it’s just kind of a go-to we always had at the house, so I was bred on it.


Tarran Merlo (00:11:54):

I was always, I actually realized I didn’t, I never knew what a bergamot was. So it’s always, it’s it’s this oil. And I always assumed it was some sort of you know, fragrant plant, like a lavender or Rosemary or something there. But and again, I’m not ashamed to admit that it took, took you saying, hey, do you want to come on the, on this episode and have a look? And I went, what is bergamot oil? And yeah, for those in my situation, who have no idea. It’s, it’s a citrus plant. It’s an Italian citrus plant sort of between a sort of similar to a lime and apparently originated as a hybrid blend of lemon and an Italian bitter orange, which, and I’ve actually, I’ve got, I’ve got a little bit of a an interesting history of Earl Grey if you wanna.


Alex C. Telander (00:12:40):

Yeah, sure. We can, we can go off script. This is all new, and we’re having fun, so why not?


Tarran Merlo (00:12:46):

So Earl Grey is, I guess, unsurprisingly named after Earl Grey, his full name was Charles Gray, the second Earl of Grey, who was the British prime minister in the 1830s. And apparently he received this, this tea blend as a gift. There’s a couple of legends about it though. There’s three different backstories that, that people have. I believe it comes from . . .


Alex C. Telander (00:13:09):

Probably a little apocryphal . . .


Tarran Merlo (00:13:12):

The first one definitely is. And there’s, there’s some proof to sort of back up the fact that it is absolutely an apocryphal agent, but it says a Chinese Mandarin, so a bureaucrat, had a son who was saved from drowning by one of Lord, Lord Grey’s men. But the problem with that one is he was saved in China as the legend goes. But the problem there is Lord Grey and his entourage and his men never once went to China. So it’s sort of this thing of, yeah, he saved, saved a bureaucrat’s son while he was in China that he never went to. So we kind of throw that one out the window. It’s not really right. Jackson’s of Piccadilly, which was a London tea house and is now owned by Twining’s claims that they invented this sort of tea bergamot blend again, though, that’s sort of doubted because while they own the patent and the right to call it an Earl Grey it seems to have been a few years, sort of five, six, seven years after the, what I think is the true origin story. And the one that I’m probably the fan of. It’s the one that’s purported by the Grey family. You’ve got to got to have some truth to it. And I say that the tea was a specific blend by again, a Chinese bureaucratic, Chinese Mandarin for Lord Grey, directly to offset the water at Lord Grey’s Howick Hall. So his main residence. That Hall, the water table in the area and the land in the area had a huge amount of lime, high ratio of lime. So that not the fruit, the rock. Yeah. In all the surrounding soil. So he made this blend by adding bergamot, offset the taste and the texture of this lime in the tea, in the water, to make this tea. And you had Lady Grey who entertained at the Hall quite frequently . . .


Alex C. Telander (00:15:00):

Which is another, another blend of tea, Lady Grey.


Tarran Merlo (00:15:02):

Correct. And sorry, my faux pas there, Twining’s don’t hold the rights to Earl Grey. They hold the rights to Lady Grey. Because Earl Grey is, is a generic name, whereas Lady Grey is the one that they hold the specific rights to. So they, they hold that trademark and release that, which is Lady Grey being the same sort of tea bergamot and lemon as well. And that’s how they get away with calling it a Lady Grey, and owning the trademark to it. But yeah, so it’s sort of that, that one sounded the most plausible to me. Yeah. An English Lord complaining about the water quality and you know, one of his, his people that were there saying, well, hey, I’ve got a fix for that. You know, this tea stuff that you like. If I add a bit of this, there we go. Here’s a great tasting tea that you just ignore the lime.


Alex C. Telander (00:15:45):

Now, I wonder what it was like when they had it with actual, decent tasting water. What it must have been like . . . Oh, this is so much better, with real water, let’s drink this every day. All right. What, what the actual, I guess you could try and reproduce it at home to see if it makes a different taste by adding lime in the water.


Tarran Merlo (00:16:06):

I wonder how poisonous it is? Much like everything else in the 1800s it was probably poisonous for you. We did some mercury based makeup and some lead based this and wonder why we all die at 25.


Alex C. Telander (00:16:25):

So speaking of the 1830s, let’s go way back for the little history bit. I’ve been looking through Peet’s. Do they have Peet’s in Australia? So it’s American chain. I think they originally started pretty near here in San Francisco in Berkeley. But I think someone bought them out. But anyway, they have a cool little big history section, but I thought I’d reproduce here going way, way back. So there’s first part is the legends from China and India. Tea’s origin story is infused with a blend of myth and fact and colored by ancient concepts of spirituality and philosophy. According to Chinese legend, the history of tea began in 27 37 BCE, when the Emperor Shen Nong , a skilled ruler and scientist, accidentally discovered tea. While boiling water in the garden, a leaf from an overhanging wild tea tree drifted into his pot. The Emperor enjoyed drinking the infused water so much that he was compelled to research the plant further. Legend has it that the Emperor discovered tea’s medicinal properties during his research. Indian history attributes the discovery of tea to Prince Bodhi-Dharma, an Indian saint who founded the Zen school of Buddhism. In the year 520, he left India to preach Buddhism in China. To prove some Zen principles, he vowed to meditate for nine years without sleep. It is said that towards the end of his meditation, he fell asleep. Upon awaking, he was so distraught that he cut off his eyelids, and threw them to the ground. Legend has it that a tea plant sprung up on the spot to sanctify his sacrifice. Thoughts?


Tarran Merlo (00:18:13):

I I have to say I’ve been again woefully ignorant of my tea history until again, you know, we started talking about yeah, putting something together here and, you know, my, my research has been a bit of an eye-opener. I’m a history major by education much as the curse of, of my life. Which means I tend to get caught up in the nitty gritty when I get into a rabbit hole, which is why I tend to avoid going, going deep into things, I tend to not be able to find my way out, pretty easily . . .


Alex C. Telander (00:18:46):

And there’s centuries of history on this, if not millennia . . .


Tarran Merlo (00:18:50):

It’s, it’s a terrifying to sort of see, see where it comes in . . .


Alex C. Telander (00:18:55):

This is partly kind of why I want to do this because I’ve always kind of wanted to know the immense history and knowing it was going to be a huge big door opening for me and all this stuff. Yeah. I kind of wanted to get into it. I even had ideas of one day writing a book about the history of tea or something, but . . .


Tarran Merlo (00:19:09):

There’s enough content to write a few volumes I think at least. And, and I think part of the challenge with not, not so much the early history, but, but going through, I’ll call it the mid section of the history of tea, sort of the AD periods sort of onwards is needing to understand a lot more than just the tea story out of it. It’s, it’s, there’s a lot more socioeconomic and political background and crossover of cultures that has such a impact on the way everything is working in and so much interconnection with everything else that’s going on in the world, you know, from wars to personal grife that people have with a certain key characters have. So it’s hard to sort of take this out of that context and talk about it in isolation, but it’s . . .


Alex C. Telander (00:19:53):

That’s also not, I don’t feel it’s right too, as a couple of white guys, a bunch of white guys we’ll have Mike on too just do it, get that way naively and not acknowledge the sacrifice has been made.


Tarran Merlo (00:20:07):

It’s been, and it’s been massive, unfortunately from, from the minimal that I’ve started digging into this, it’s been a a massive impact. But I guess there’s two, there’s two legends that you’ve read through there. I’d have to probably align more to the Chinese side of things. Purely from a timing perspective, although in saying that the first, I guess, primary resource, primary piece of historical fact that I could find at least was was more anecdotal. So it’s hard even to that, to call it a primary source, but sort of the anecdotal evidence of, of its use for medicinal properties during, during the Shang dynasty, which is sort of that 1766 to 10 50 BCE. So a thousand years past that the legend piece. Is, is that legend accurate? Look, highly likely it’s yeah, it’s highly likely that these sort of things happened by accident, accidentally, you know, pouring some boiling water over a leaf and realizing that it’s a pretty tasty drink.


Alex C. Telander (00:21:09):

Yeah, leaving it there for a while and having it turned to something yeah. With other things, but when you’re cooking or just different things, you’re blending together and just how people will discover them in similar ways.


Tarran Merlo (00:21:19):

Which is amazing. It is amazing to, to sort of look back at the history of some foods and drinks and realize that yeah, that was a complete accident.


Alex C. Telander (00:21:29):

But also with them drinking it over and over it, obviously it did make them feel better in certain ways that there was some part of it that was healing and helping.


Tarran Merlo (00:21:37):

I think it was that sort of thousand years later, or thereabouts that you started to see it, it’s, it’s more frequent use for its medicinal properties. The, the deliberate mixing of that with other barks and seeds and leaves in a bit of a trial and error manner to sort of see what was the most potent remedy for for a given ailment. Yeah. It might be, you’ve got a headache, Oh, well, this tea mixed with this type of bark or this type of leaf. Yeah.


Alex C. Telander (00:22:03):

Or spices or anything like that. Yeah.


Tarran Merlo (00:22:05):

Yeah. All of that, because we talk about it as, as if yes, we’ve got this history there and, and we don’t, unfortunately, you know, history from that long ago, we’re talking 5,000 years ago. It’s hard. Yeah. There’s not a lot of direct historical texts that survived through there. And, and those that do are often hard to translate those dialogues and, and you know, ways of speech and writing have mutated and changed to an extent that it’s, it’s almost impossible to get it a hundred percent correct. So it’s interpretations of interpretations. So, you know, they tend to have gained this, especially in, in looking at tea specifically and, and it’s you know, history there it’s, it’s gained that inherent mystic quality of healing arts and, and, you know, the, the tie-in and, and all of the religious interconnections of that don’t, I was going to say don’t help the mystic element of that. They, they kind of build on that. Yeah. which was, I, I didn’t realize that it was something that was so old. To be completely honest. Yes. It was it was a bit of an eye opener for me. One of the interesting things that did come out when I was looking through that history, there was, was around the, just the turn of the BCE to AD sort of eras was the, the popular view was as tea as a key component in Chinese medicine. So coming out of that mystic element and moving more into a deliberate medical use there was partly by a gentleman by the name of an excuse my pronunciation, but Hua Tuo who a Chinese physician who believed it would believe to have been living 140-280 AD during the Eastern Han dynasty and still very much on it today as one of the leading medical practitioners of his time. I believe there’s even a statue of him. One of the Chinese hospitals there’s a statue erected of him. And while a lot of his famous elements came around from his use of tea in medical practices, he is a little bit more commonly known with associated sorry, associated with the boiling of, of a certain other plant into a powder for anesthetic use. Yeah, he, he boiled and crushed up cannabis powder and used it as an anesthetic during surgery. But he used that in conjunction with, with tea to alleviate symptoms and provide relief for his patients, which I thought, huh. Yeah. That’s much like a lot of you know previous drinks, even more modern ones, mixed them up with a little bit of a, what we now know or what we now deemed to be in some areas of illicit drugs. And you know, they tend to help quite well.


Alex C. Telander (00:24:51):

Or thinking of Coca Cola. You have that too you know . . .


Tarran Merlo (00:24:57):

Absolutely. I did see a great a great meme the other day of of given the current climate Coke has decided to reintroduce cocaine into their drink to help everyone get through it.


Alex C. Telander (00:25:13):

So now I’m going to quote, a little bit from A Thirst for Empire, a little bit about how tea works. Tea can grow in many climates, but thrives in tropical and subtropical areas with warm temperatures, high humidity, and a great deal of water, sunlight and well-drained and nitrogen rich soil. Once mature, the freshly picked leaves must be processed quickly to prevent spoilage. Tea can be made into bricks, pounded into powder, and dried and fermented in various ways to become green, black, oolong, and other varieties. It can be served hot, iced, with added flavorings and spices, prepared in urns, samovars, and pots, sold in tea bags and even freeze dried, but has no appreciable industrial uses, like corn, soy, sugar, oils, cotton or even diamonds. Tea is basically a beverage. Yes. You drink it to constantly possibly some things, but you drink it also because you like the taste of it and enjoy it. And it doesn’t work for anything else really, other than enjoying it.


Tarran Merlo (00:26:16):

That’s exactly, exactly right. It, it has no other use. That’s amazing. I’d never really considered it like that.


Alex C. Telander (00:26:25):

I mean, I don’t know if you, if you were to bathe in a bath tea don’t know if that might have to do anything to the skin or whatever, but possibly it might not be good . . .


Tarran Merlo (00:26:37):

I mean, so when you say tea here you were specifically dealing and talking about the, what was it, hang on, let me, there we go, the Camellia sinensis plant, the leaves of sinensis plant, which when, when, you know, when, I guess Western culture traditionally tends to think of that as, as black tea, obviously, as you said, a few different varieties through that, and it’s all based on the way it’s prepared. You have, your white, yellow is green oolong, black and, and sort of fermented or post fermented sort of dark tea, but something that I’ve come up to, or sort of realized in the last, probably six months of my tea drinking life has been the use of the word tea for, and I’ll say in this context, herbal teas, is completely and utterly wrong. And, and this is probably going to be a little bit tea snobby.


Alex C. Telander (00:27:35):

I think it comes with the territory here. So it’s expected.


Tarran Merlo (00:27:41):

Anything that doesn’t have the, the leaf of the Camellia sinensis in it, shouldn’t be called a tea. It should be a to tisane, which is a non, a non Camellia sinensis based tea for all intents and purposes. That’s been a, probably a fair percentage of, of my drinking has been herbals or tisanes over the last six months. I do enjoy my Earl Grey and, and will occasionally have a, have a, a blended sort of mix, a chai or something similar to that, where you have your Camellia sinensis tea with a mix of herbs and spices, but it still has the tea leaf.


Alex C. Telander (00:28:20):

At the root, pun intended.


Tarran Merlo (00:28:26):

But yeah, a lot of my tea has been a lot of my tisane drinking has been, that has been tisanes. It’s not not teas, which I found was quite interesting. And again, I’ve been letting the tea team down by drinking non tea teas.


Alex C. Telander (00:28:40):

But you’re also drinking it because you’re enjoying it though.


Tarran Merlo (00:28:43):

Exactly. One of the books that I’ve been reading has been, and I actually managed to read this online as, as a scanned in text, which I thought was just an amazing side of the times that we live in that, that I can go and grab a book without having to leave the house and read it. I had to borrow an hour an hour, which was fine, but that’s okay. It was free to borrow continually. So I just kept doing it. But it was from Mary Lou Heiss, The Story of Tea which was the story of tea, a cultural history and drinking guide. The drinking guide’s got some really interesting pieces in it. One of the quotes from there is: tea has a long and turbulent history filled with intrigue, adventure, fortune gained and lost, embargoes, drugs, taxation, smugglers, war, revolution, religious asceticism, artistic expression and social change. And I thought, yep, everything about that sentence kind of sums the terrifying nature of what has really been, you know, across, across history, unfortunately. But no, it’s, it’s, that’s an interesting text. I think yours is probably going to promise to be a little bit more a little bit more true to fact, I think.


Alex C. Telander (00:29:57):

Yeah. Well, I mean, all those, all those things you all mentioned, I’ve hit a lot of them away, even though I’m currently working through the, I think, mid to late 19th century. All the, all the smuggling and all the different levels, the taxes, and all these different things. And even down to again, I haven’t gotten too much into it, but how England turned against Chinese tea wanting to make their own in India and kind of making their own thing, which was apparently terrible at first, and took thirty odd years to actually make to anything decent. And yeah, the book has got it’s a bit of, a lot of, a lot of history is covered, but I think also a lot of good perspective in pointing out how colonialism and everything turned against different groups and peoples and things like that, all with the gain of getting more tea and getting richer off of it, which still applies today.


Tarran Merlo (00:30:57):

Yeah, it does. It’s a common theme throughout, throughout most of history is where can we make money off this? Where can I have power and control? And it’s it’s sad truth. The sad reality of, of the history we have is fundamentally fueled by, by that greed.


Alex C. Telander (00:31:14):

And the suffering of others. And most often, if not, always non white people. I wanted to mention a few quotes here from kind of two different perspectives. One’s an American merchant in the mid 19th century talking about tea, it was kind of interesting to learn how much tea was in the early Americas and how it became such a big thing. And then really with the Boston tea party and then the revolution and all that kind of change it a bit. But he said: “No other production of the soil has, in equal degree, stimulated the intercourse of the most distant portions of the globe, nor has any other beverage, with equally alloyed behavior, so commended itself to the palates for the people of the more civilized nations, or become so much a source of comfort, and a means of temperance healthfulness, and cheerfulness; whilst it may be doubted if any other is equally restorative and stimulative of the intellectual faculties of man.” Now there’s a lot in that I feel kind of encapsulated, we started to talk a little bit about here where tea, you know, spread around the globe and primarily went to the big colonies. I remember reading that Britain was actually a little later to get to it. And you had Portugal first and the Netherlands getting tea and again, taking it primarily fror=m nonwhite people to them feeling that they almost deserve to have it, you know, there’s by right. Sort of thing, and had to come to them. And no matter how many of those suffered along the way to get it to them, that was the important thing and to make money off of it.


Tarran Merlo (00:32:57):

It was, it was seen as a, it, I almost attributed in a similar way to, you know, the gold standard from a currency point of view. Tea sort of became a social, a cultural currency. We have more than you, therefore we’re better than you, we’re more important than you, we’re more capable whatever, whatever the case may be. And, and where Britain comes into play and partly a little bit tongue in cheek that they definitely were a little bit later to the, to the game as such, but it was almost interesting to see that as soon as the French had tea ,the English went, no, no, we must have this as well. And we must have more of it, and we must control this.


Alex C. Telander (00:33:40):

And also beginning with, to, to make it a universal thing to all the classes, especially the working class and women at home and all this stuff. But then as that became prevalent, and then they wanted to create more of a social hierarchy, with that way you had specialty teas for, for the rich and the “lower teas” were for the working class, you know?


Tarran Merlo (00:34:02):

Yes, yes. The paupers could have these types of teas. But things like, like our Earl Grey that we’re both drinking here and these sort of blends that you know, that were associated with the nobles of the time and the lords and ladies, it was a, you know, an aristocratic take on something that was available to everybody. And we see that through today with, with all of those sorts of things, you know, we all have, I got myself a new phone over this, during this period. I was out of contract and decided to get a new one. And in my research, I found, yes, the phone I had, which is a nice Samsung, one of the new Samsung phones. And it’s a great phone. It’s not the cheapest phone out there in the market, far from it, but I found that there is a oh, I can’t remember the fashion label, but there’s a New York fashion label that has put their name to a design of that phone. And it triples the price. It’s, it’s got their logo on the back and it’s their colored ribbon that goes around the back of the case . . .


Alex C. Telander (00:34:59):

It’s a status symbol.


Tarran Merlo (00:35:00):

It is. A hundred percent is, is simply a status element of it. And it, it sort of, you know, that’s a common thing we see in society there. You can see that I’ve got something that is better than you, therefore, I’m a better person than you.


Alex C. Telander (00:35:14):

Even if I don’t really know how to use it, the point is I can have it. And you can’t.


Tarran Merlo (00:35:19):

Exactly. And that seems to have been that common thread through through most of that European sort of acquisition of this substance.


Alex C. Telander (00:35:28):

In tandem with sugar and coffee.


Tarran Merlo (00:35:32):

Yes. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, not, not sort of in isolation, it’s we want resources and we want them as that form of power and currency so that we have that control and that sense of entitlement that seemed to come out of, out of nowhere, we’re entitled to this because we are entitled to it with no justification.


Alex C. Telander (00:35:52):

The sun rises and the sun sets on the empire, right? So it’s true. It’s all ours. Another quote I had was from a publicist is involved in promoting tea, A.E. Duchesne. I don’t know if that’s how I pronounced it. If he was English . . . in 1914, said: “Tea has eliminated the drunken nurses and bibulous coachmen of Dickensian times, had eradicated the need for every businessman to clinch his bargain over a glass, and expelled the belief that drunkenness was the test and evidence of British manliness.” So as pompous as that all sounds, I feel there is a point, and we’re not really quite aware of the, with alcohol people, were drunk most of the time, just during the day, especially the men.


Tarran Merlo (00:36:44):

To various extents. Yes. Slightly, slightly tipsy through to just blind drunk. But it was part of, part of culture, it was part of daily life.


Alex C. Telander (00:36:52):

Well, again, it’s was probably another thing again, of showing off that you could be drunk and you could get all this alcohol. And as you mentioned, that clincher deal to have a good business agreement meant you have to celebrate it. So in some ways, tea did help in getting people to sober up and enjoy a drink that didn’t disturb your faculties.


Tarran Merlo (00:37:14):

That pulled through and is still a common, common thread today. You know, the idea of, you know, if you, if you sight tested two groups of people and you, you know, you put two, a, two scenarios in front of them, one, a group of three or four guys standing around in a bar, you know, drinking pint after pint getting drunker and drunker, and then put against that a group of four gentlemen wearing, you know you know, dinner with dinner ware, and sitting around a smaller table, drinking a cup of tea while chomping on a cucumber sandwich or something similar and asked which one is is more classy, which one is more desirable?


Alex C. Telander (00:37:57):

Which one do you aspire to?


Tarran Merlo (00:37:59):

Yes. Yes. I mean, I’m sure you’d get a few people saying, no, give me the, give me the, the beer every day, which is fine. But the, I would probably hazard a guess and make a broad sweeping assumption there that it would be the tea drinking. It’s Interesting when you, when you look at that, there are certain teas out there. And if you if you look at some tea ads, specifically Yorkshire tea, the, the Yorkshire tea company and, and the Yorkshire tea it’s that, that is advertised as a “manly” tea, it’s got, it’s a very strong tea. But it’s a really tea for, for men. Got it. Yeah. Only, only real men can handle their Yorkshire tea. Yeah. And, and there’s, there’s a series of vets with Sean Bean sort of doing that as well. And . . .


Alex C. Telander (00:38:47):

And he doesn’t die in them. Right?


Tarran Merlo (00:38:49):

He doesn’t die, which is why you should watch them. It’s the one thing he doesn’t die in. But they absolutely bring out this, you know, you want to be a real man then drink Yorkshire tea. Yeah, absolutely echoes that quote.


Alex C. Telander (00:39:03):

And again, the workman’s tea in some ways too, right. When you’re having it with your lunch or whatever. Yeah.


Tarran Merlo (00:39:07):

Yeah. I do. I don’t disagree with that as, as you said, as, as questionable as the statement is there, it’s absolutely, you know, it’s got an element of truth to that of of encouraging people to stop drinking, you know, one type of drink that, that has these negative social connotations to it, or moving towards a drink that is considered to be classier, more respectable.


Alex C. Telander (00:39:29):

With the pinky raised, right?


Tarran Merlo (00:39:31):



Alex C. Telander (00:39:33):

As opposed to chugging it down.


Tarran Merlo (00:39:36):

You wouldn’t dare lose a drip of tea when you’re drinking that.


Alex C. Telander (00:39:42):

Well, I’m, we’ll talk about it in a, in a future episode, but that’s, again, it’s part of the thing I’ve gotten in with the book where you have this again. Yeah. With the tea being welcomed for the lower classes and manly tea and drink this instead of drinking alcohol. And then later on, it’ll switch to feminizing tea, and then you’re effeminate if you drink tea, it, it’s a whole very interesting like movement again, for, ties into money and control again, in most cases. But we’ll get into it in future episodes. The last quote I had, which I really feel puts some perspective on this is from cultural theorist who’s from Jamaica originally named Stuart Hall, who says: “Where does it come from?” Meaning the tea. “Sri Lanka, India. That is the outside history that is inside the history of the English. There is no English history without that other history.” And that’s something I feel is never taken into consideration. The idea that it’s British tea stamped with approval, British tea, and you’re drinking it. And that none of it really ever came from Britain. It all came from elsewhere.


Tarran Merlo (00:40:51):

Mm. As I’ve said earlier on my, I I’ve been astounded by the truth of this, by going into, you know, doing some, some high level reading. I mean, even a quick jumping on Wikipedia, typing in tea and reading the first few paragraphs of the history is a, was a complete eye-opener for me to go hang on tea is traditionally Chinese. If you had asked me, where is tea from? In Australia it’s Twining’s or it’s Dilmah, and you know we have the ads of the Dilmah tea on there, shot in the the tea fields of the family picking tea and saying, yeah, we make you the highest quality teas. And, and absolutely that’s if you had asked me a month ago before we started looking into this and doing some research itself, I would be ashamed to realize that that no, Mike, my understanding of that is completely and totally warped. And it’s been a huge eye-opener for me to realize that this is such an influenced history by call it by the victors, that the history is written by the victors and, and no less so in this instance as you said that British tea, British stamp of approval, if you try to say anything other than that to, to a native English person, I assume you’d probably get looked down upon, know that no, no, it’s British tea, it’s English tea. That’s, that’s how we have tea.


Alex C. Telander (00:42:26):

And it seems the right time to be doing it as we’re discussing this now with our social upheaval around the world, against racism, against the nobility, the people at the top controlling so much that we talk about this, that we understand it and educate ourselves as well as others. I think that’s, that’s my real goal with this, in learning not just about tea, but the toll also on how many it’s taken and that we understand that when we drink tea, it’s obviously a privilege.


Tarran Merlo (00:42:59):

Yes, it is absolutely a privilege that we can sit here talking about it, drinking what was considered an upper-class tea blend derived off the backs of centuries of terrible events, ultimately all leading back to a culture who discovered and grew and cultivated and made this amazing, amazing leaf based drink that, you know, that was and is fantastic.


Alex C. Telander (00:43:28):

And wanted everyone to, just to have and enjoy and to get healthier from it.


Tarran Merlo (00:43:33):

Ultimately, yes. So I’ll be interested to go into some of that future history around you know, around the religious tie-ins and, and sort of understanding what the aim of that was. So it is, as you said, something that was meant to be for all and meant to be enjoyed and consumed by all, and ultimately greed and power is, is what changed all of that.


Alex C. Telander (00:43:57):

I also have to learn a bit about how we get our tea. Now, obviously it’s a lot of the same process, but you know, what, how does it come from? How, how is it organized by, by the companies, by the families, by the people? You know, I hope, I don’t know, but I assume that it’s at least better conditions than it was previously in that people are doing better, but I also want them to know, again, how, with all this tea that I have available at the click of a button and the punching in of a credit card, I can get within a week or two, you know.


Tarran Merlo (00:44:28):

What’s the process for coming from farm to you of aspect. What are the conditions of those people who are, who are farming that for you? It’s, I am nervous to think that I might be might be putting some of these Twining’s bags and Twining’s boxes into the bin, but I think we’ll, we’ll, we’ll see what we discover over the coming, coming weeks and months.


Alex C. Telander (00:44:49):

Yep. Definitely.


Alex C. Telander (00:45:00):

Do you have some tea anecdotes or memories. I’ve got some interesting ones. Well, personal ones. So do you want to go first or shall I give you you mine?


Tarran Merlo (00:45:10):

I actually, probably don’t outside of the one with, with my Nana there. I was trying to think of a few others, but my, my research took me down the path of other areas that I focused through. So I came back to it and was coming up with blanks for awhile. So I’ll probably have to pass . .


Alex C. Telander (00:45:26):

So you wouldn’t be able to compete with mine. Mine are interesting. So I have twice been scarred or baptized if you will, by hot tea.


Tarran Merlo (00:45:36):

Oh dear.


Alex C. Telander (00:45:38):

So the first time was when I was nine months old and I grabbed a mug and poured it all over myself. And so originally was on my right arm. And the bad part of it was we went to the hospital. I mean, this is all secondhand, I don’t know personally, . . .


Tarran Merlo (00:45:57):

You were nine months, how do you remember?


Alex C. Telander (00:46:00):

When we went to the hospital the oh so wise doctor said, oh, it’s a burn, so you should wrap that up in a tight bandage and leave for two weeks.


Tarran Merlo (00:46:09):

Ooh. So I have a friend who os a burns nurse and she put up on Facebook this week, actually. So, so prominent that a picture of a toddler who had been burned by hot tea, seeing that burning, it was sort of ouch. Yeah. and, and sort of seeing all the recommendations of no, put it under cold water for 20 to 30 minutes eccentric. So the polar opposite of what the doctor recommended there.


Alex C. Telander (00:46:31):

So because of that, all my life I’ve born I don’t know how clear it is to see, a scar on my arm, which goes from wrist to just above my elbow, because that was the length of my arm when I was nine months old, over the years, it’s gotten more tanned and everything and hidden, but that’s something I’ve borne. So I can’t remember if that was Earl Grey or not, but on a level tea has become part of my genetics, sunk into the skin.


Tarran Merlo (00:46:59):

If this was a superhero origin story, you would now be able to shoot tea out of your hand or something.


Alex C. Telander (00:47:04):

Yeah. The less glamorous other one incident was when I was just drinking tea and dropped it and poured it all over my crotch, which also led to burns and a lot of pain and my second baptism there with tea.


Tarran Merlo (00:47:16):

And how old were you there? Don’t say last week.


Alex C. Telander (00:47:21):

No, no, I’m much more controlling about tea. Probably early teens. Yeah. Maybe like thirteen.


Tarran Merlo (00:47:28):



Alex C. Telander (00:47:29):

It took some healing, but again, tea and I are one in some ways.


Tarran Merlo (00:47:38):

Thankfully say that I’ve had no, no tea based accidents myself. No, my, my burns are usually caused by the oven. Hence my, my slight phobia of ovens, not tea related.


Tarran Merlo (00:47:49):

I always try to remember every time you open the oven, if you don’t remember you open it. And if you don’t stand back, there’s a gush of heat that shoots out right away.


Tarran Merlo (00:47:58):

You get steamed up on the glasses.


Alex C. Telander (00:48:00):

Yes. It’s a good to just step back before it comes out.


Tarran Merlo (00:48:02):



Alex C. Telander (00:48:08):

Okay. So now we’re coming to our last segment, of our thing where we recommend our own teas that we like, ah, okay, did you want, well, I’m going to go first because I ended up having three as I got one today that I enjoyed, a subscription tea service called Simple Loose Leaf tea. So every month they send me four teas, so it would work out perfectly. I do two teas each episode. So you could choose actually different kind of groupings. I think that was a chai one, a green tea one. I chose the black tea. And so the first one I tried was the Simple Earl Grey and kind of funny cause actually it had a little picture of Sherlock Holmes on there. So the Simple Earl Grey is a classic old gray black tea that uses a wonderful South Indian black tea. When first opening this tea, you’ll smell the tale tale citrus bergamot, but smell a second time and you’ll catch the scent of rich orange zest that is a little sweeter than other bergamots. I really did enjoy this. I mean, I enjoy most Earl Greys. I find, I think what’s usually called French Earl Grey. I don’t know if it’s the level of bergamot to be a little too, what I would call perfumey, I think. So that one, I don’t like as much; this was kind of like that, but with the, the citrus orange zest bit, it like cut into it enough that may be enjoyed much more.


Tarran Merlo (00:49:33):



Alex C. Telander (00:49:34):

So that’s what I was really happy with that. And that’s coming to me later this week in a larger amount.


Tarran Merlo (00:49:39):

Ah, that’s usually a pretty good recommendation if you’ve tried the sample and now you’re doing a larger order. So yeah.


Tarran Merlo (00:49:44):

For me I don’t have the bag with me cause unfortunately I’ve, I’ve used it up and I’ve thrown it out. Unfortunately, so . . .


Alex C. Telander (00:49:53):

That’s a good reason though, as opposed to throwing it out when it’s full .


Tarran Merlo (00:49:57):

I, as I was saying to you earlier, I’m a little disappointed with, with with one of the orders that I’ve placed in that they were out of stock after I ordered. So but this isn’t that company it’s a masala chai from WA West Australian based coffee company. So they’re Yahava coffee but they do a range of teas as well. I’ve got a chamomile of there’s. It’s quite nice, but for this I’ve decided to recommend their masala chai. I’ve actually got a video of me sampling video.


Alex C. Telander (00:50:30):

Oh, we’ll put it up on YouTube and link it.


Tarran Merlo (00:50:35):

A little bit of just a, a really quick sort of history, I guess, of chai. It, it was sort of an early 20th century adaptation in India that the Indian tea association was against initially against. They didn’t like the idea of spices and herbs being added to a traditional Assam tea because it reduced the ratio of the tea leaf per cup, and thus reduced consumption and profits again, back to our greed factor. However, it sort of became a staple of Indian tea consumption and a popular alternative to the traditional black, but to be called a masala chai, it has to have water, tea leaves. So the Assam tea, milk, sugar, and ginger. There’re your five bases to it. And then the additional spices are called a, again, excuse my pronunciation, but a “karha.” And that includes various quantities and ratios depending on the maker or drinker’s preferences. And they can include a base of ground ginger, cardamom pod, and then the addition of things like cinnamon star, anise, fennel, peppercorns, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom seed, ginger root, honey, and vanilla, and sort of different ratios of all of that. You then get some extra variations of that. And in this current era of pre-mixed variations, you know, you can pretty much go to go to any company and say, what types of chai do you have? So masala chai to make it, and I’ve never made it like this. So the next time I’ve got some chives on order that didn’t come. So unfortunately I have to reorder some, but I am going to make it like this. So you, you have your pot and you simmer milk. And I don’t have the exact quantities. There’s a pretty good one on, I think it is Wikipedia, but yeah, there’s a few companies around there that sort of give you the how to, the ratios and amounts, but you send me some milk and water with your tea, the sweeteners. So your honey or your, your sugar, then you go and add in your, your ginger, let that simmer for a few minutes. Then towards the end you include the, karha, the spice blend, give that a few more minutes to bubble through and let the spices come through. Then you pour that through a strainer into the teapot. So you’re, you’re effectively cooking this tea as opposed to letting it steep.


Alex C. Telander (00:52:48):

Boiling it like a soup or stew. Sounds delicious.


Tarran Merlo (00:52:52):

And I guess what I’ve been doing more recently in my personal move away from caffeine and that’s, that’s sort of been a thing that I’ve been doing from a sleep side of things, I’ve been struggling to sleep recently. So I’ve been moving away from caffeine to try to minimize that and try to root out what is the cause of my sleeplessness. So I’ve been moving away from putting tea in there to a tisane. So using a Rooibos or as an Australian, I want to pronounce it as “Yerba mate.”


Alex C. Telander (00:53:21):

Yes. Not, Yerba ma-te.


Tarran Merlo (00:53:26):

So apologies there. But using those instead of a traditional tea.


Alex C. Telander (00:53:31):

I believe there’s an accent on the “E.”


Tarran Merlo (00:53:34):

Yeah. But every time, I see it, the Australianism comes out. I mean, it’s, it’s Yerba mate. But you still get the chai spice coming through that. So, so absolutely the, the Yahava masala chai is yeah, it’s a black Assam tea, really tasty, little bit of honey. And they do suggest steeping that in milk. So you get that same sort of creamy taste and texture through it. So definitely a recommendation from me.


Alex C. Telander (00:54:00):

Going with your little history lesson. This explains a lot more with my final tea I’ll be recommending because now I understand it a lot better. So the next one I have that I originally was going to do, but not really caring about as much now, because I didn’t like it that much, is Kenilworth Ceylon, a Ceylon black tea from the Kenilworth estate in the Northern region of Dimbula, Sri Lanka is known for using a large leaf and full oxidation. I think this was just another kind of generic black tea, but I found it very bland. I tried to make it regular first, then extra strong the next time. And even over, you know, common blends like Tetley or those other ones, Yorkshire it didn’t have anything going for it. It was just very boring I felt. So that’s my, my negative one on that one. So I won’t be ordering that.


Tarran Merlo (00:54:50):

Fair enough, I guess. Yeah. It might, might be a good base for something else to add. If you want a little bit of the tea taste in a, in a herbal blend, something like that, it might help to not mask the herbal blend that you’re adding. But . . .


Alex C. Telander (00:55:03):

And I wonder too, if maybe with possibly, with milk, I don’t do milk in my tea, so maybe, or even just cause I do sugar maybe, with honey or something, you might get different notes coming out and things like that.


Tarran Merlo (00:55:16):

My next one is, is not a tea, apologies, it’s a tisane. So I’m going to be a stickler for that. I’ll call that when it’s tisane versus a tea to make sure it’s consistent. But so this is a tisane by a company called Roogenic. Rue from kangaroo. But they’re a Australian organic . . .


Alex C. Telander (00:55:37):

But they’re not a genetics company right?


Tarran Merlo (00:55:37):

No. It does sound like it.


Alex C. Telander (00:55:38):

We’ve taken kangaroo DNA and tea.


Tarran Merlo (00:55:44):

Thankfully not.


Alex C. Telander (00:55:46):

To give a jump in your drink.


Tarran Merlo (00:55:49):

It’s meant to be kangaroo organic. So Roogenic, should be “Rooganic”, I guess, but Roogenic yeah. It’s an Australian company and they do harvest everything locally is my understanding, not necessarily locally WA, but locally within Australia. They try to use locally grown variants on things where possible. So it’s a blend called Native Relief. So again, one of those, one of those drinks that I’ve been trying for from a sleep side of things it’s designed to provide a general feeling of well being and aid in general ailments as is all tea, I guess. It’s ingredients and the claim to fame for Roogenic is it’s completely organic. And it includes a blend of lemon myrtle, which is an Australian native Bush plant with a lemon scent and taste to it. It’s high in antioxidants and it’s got some antiinflammatory properties as well. It has native lemon grass, non-native lemon grass. So I don’t know where that’s pulled in from, but I figure if you’ve got native lemon grass, why would you bother grabbing non-natives?


Alex C. Telander (00:56:49):

Maybe the warehouse has a mixture of different things and some got contaminated?


Tarran Merlo (00:56:55):

And it does have rose petals in it as well, which I’ll be honest, I was using this as my daily drink, but I’m in the mood for, for a quick cup. What will I make? And I turned to this, which I’m kicking myself for because I finished the jar, I mean, sort of 200 gram jars. And after I finished it, I realized that the brewing suggestions say you can brew those leaves three times.


Alex C. Telander (00:57:24):



Tarran Merlo (00:57:25):

So I have effectively wasted two thirds of this jar of tea. I have another . . .


Alex C. Telander (00:57:33):

I mean, you’re proving yourself as a tea snob here, you realize?


Tarran Merlo (00:57:33):

Yes I am. Yeah. I’ve got a, I’ve got a nighttime sleep plan. So I’ve made sure that the last few nights, since I’ve read that, I’ve been making sure I definitely reuse those leaves. So that I don’t waste it, but . . .


Alex C. Telander (00:57:48):

Maybe you were thinking you were just been using the local lemon grass and not the non-local.


Tarran Merlo (00:57:53):

But no, it’s, it’s really tasty. The limit isn’t particularly overpowering. It smells quite strong, but when you, when you’re drinking it, it’s not particularly overpowering. And the rose comes through really nicely in the background.


Alex C. Telander (00:58:03):

There’s something, I think it will be in the next episode tea recommendation. One of the ones I got in the samples, I think again, it has rose petals in it. And it gets a very nice little subtle end note that just really rounds things out.


Tarran Merlo (00:58:17):

It does. Yes. But no, that’s a very good and again, I think they do ship internationally as well. They, they ship in glass jars, which is lovely to, to serve the mean, but you can do it in bags as well. So if you can, if you’re going to order it, then yeah, it’s a lot lighter and it’s a lot less breakable, cause having glass broken through your tea, it’s not a great feel. It doesn’t go down that well.


Alex C. Telander (00:58:43):

It’s an acquired taste. Yeah. You definitely want to put that through a strainer. Yeah. The slivers. Okay. So the last tea originally didn’t have this, but it arrived today which my wife had found and ordered mainly because they are an American company, little American company run by African-Americans specifically. So that’s why we’re also with everything going on, wanting to support black people where we could. So she got this. I’m just going to read a little bit off the website here, about how they’re called Bunka: Bunka is about fine tradition, culture, socialization, gatherings, and ceremonies. Our products are here to give the world a taste of Eastern Africa in gatherings, restaurants, tea shops, or events, wherever people need to talk. Socialize. Bunka is there. In 2017, the Bunka brand was born to capture traditional East African influence and share with our broader communities. Our hope is that our ingredients, processes and work ethic combined with our joy to innovate will win you over. She ordered the one tea, which is called Galabtea. Have you heard of it?


Tarran Merlo (00:59:57):

I’ve literally just jumped on their website while you’ve been speaking. And it’s on their main website, under products.


Alex C. Telander (01:00:02):

They only have one tea, which is this one, and this is the one we got today, which I tried earlier. And after all your talk about chai, I mean the, let me find the specifics here. I mean, the ingredients here are Kenyan tea, ginger, cardamom and cinnamon. And just even when we opened the bag and just smell it, we’re like, oh, this is amazing. I made a cup earlier and I didn’t do it. I should, next time, I’ll start doing it with the milk and like the chai way you’re supposed to do it, but I just did a basic cup or whatever, but just on its own with some sugar, it was wonderful. I’ve tried some, and even though, even though it was not loose leaf, it’s teabags, but still was really good. I’ve tried other chai where they’re fine, but there’s always a kind of like almost slight artificial flavor to them because they’re processed tea, whatever, whereas this just felt the real McCoy, you know, the real thing. And it’s very reasonable for, it was 30 bags for eight bucks, I think it was. And then if you two you get, you get free shipping? Yeah. So we’ll definitely be supporting them. It was very nice.


Tarran Merlo (01:01:05):

Yeah. That’s that’s pretty amazing. I wonder if they I’ll have to, I’ll have to continue clicking through the website to see if they ship all the way to Australia. Cause that sounds pretty good.


Alex C. Telander (01:01:14):

Pretty sure they do. And, and again, this wasn’t, we didn’t realize this until afterwards, too, but they’re based out of Minneapolis, where George Floyd was murdered. So it brings it all around in perspective. Let’s see, economy shipping. I think they probably do. If not, I can send you some.


Tarran Merlo (01:01:33):

I was going to say I have a connection in the USPS.


Alex C. Telander (01:01:39):

And since our other host, Mike, who will hopefully be on the next episode, has sent me so much tea, with one hopefully coming in the next few days. Yeah, we can definitely help each other, but we’ll include links for everything in the notes. I don’t know how long we’ve been going on for. I actually, I can look here, an hour over an hour. Okay. Yeah.


Tarran Merlo (01:01:59):

I’m sorry. So the 15 to 20 minutes,


Alex C. Telander (01:02:02):

I was estimating 15 to 20 minutes. So we’ll see. Well, well, we’ll cut some of this out, but anyway, we hope any listeners that are still listing have enjoyed this beginning first run of a ride through the land or tea and its history and present and future. I definitely enjoy chatting and hearing what you have to bring and say.


Tarran Merlo (01:02:22):

It’s been fantastic.


Alex C. Telander (01:02:25):

Our discourse has been enjoyable. The tea has been enjoyable. I think this will be the start of something really great.


Tarran Merlo (01:02:32):

I think so. And as I said at the start, thank you for having us. And to be honest, thank you for suggesting the idea you know, a few months ago when, when you did.


Alex C. Telander (01:02:41):

I mean, I think it just started, we just started talking about tea one day on Discord didn’t we, and then all of a sudden I realized we’re all big tea drinkers.


Tarran Merlo (01:02:47):

Yeah. We were having a bit of a catch-up chat and I’ll be honest. I hadn’t had a cup of tea myself before then regularly. Yeah, for, for a long time. I turned to coffee and been doing a lot of that. And I found that you know, just, just that chat got me back into having some teas and really appreciating them much more than I had done in the past. Outside of a casual tea drinker and it’s definitely become a lot more interesting reading through the history, understanding the cultural impact and where all this has come from has been, as I said, a huge eye opener for me and, and very much been a, a topic that has gained interest for me in a huge way.


Alex C. Telander (01:03:30):

Right. Thank you for listening and catch us on our next episode.


Tarran Merlo (01:03:36):

See you later and thanks again.


Tarran Merlo (01:03:49):

Thank you for listening to While There is Tea, There is Hope. This episode featured myself, Tarran Merlo and Alex C. Telander. It was produced by Tarran Merlo. Details of the music featured in this episode can be found in the show notes. You can find out more about this show at our growing website, And we hope you can join us for our next episode, which will be out on the 1st of March. Thank you for listening and have a tea-riffic time.