My tea history 2: advertising, ghost signs, and Bushells

Women sitting around a table, drinking tea that had been poured from a teapot into tea cups. Advertisements for tea painted on the sides of buildings. In my childhood, in the 1950s, these sights were all around me. I thought they’d always be there. A drink that was advertised on the side of buildings was surely as safe as houses. The women who drank tea were scathing when teabags appeared on the market: “the sweepings from the factory floor”.

I couldn’t have predicted the way things would turn out.

The brands of tea I remember from my childhood in Australia in the 1950s are the aforementioned Billy Tea and:

  • Bushell’s,
  • Lan-Choo,
  • Kinkara, and
  • Goldenia.

Brands I heard about later were Robur, Tetley, and Liptons. I plan to write a few posts about all these brands of tea. This post will mention Bushells tea.

Tea advertising

After I started this post, back in May 2014, I became completely derailed trying to find out about Tea in Australia. The post arising from that distraction, Some general tea history, is largely based on the PhD thesis Bushells and the cultural logic of branding by Susie Khamis. Here’s what she says (on page 83) about tea advertising:

[B]randing ties products to any number of emotions and ideals; one brand of tea, for example, may conjure images of convenience and efficiency, while another brand of seemingly indistinguishable tea is wrapped up in notions of patriotism and tradition. In other words, brand marketing can invoke a consumer’s sense of identity, as he or she gravitates to whichever brand of tea complements his or her values regime – or, at the very least, this is how most marketing literature posits this scenario.

Emotions, ideals, seemingly indistinguishable tea, values… Not much to do with taste, then! 🙂

The quote supports my impression, dating from seeing these signs and hearing tea ads on the wireless in childhood, that tea advertising is some of the most flagrant manipulation around. As I go through the brands of tea I remember, I’ll give examples of their slogans to illustrate the baldness of their unsupported assertions.

Ghost signs

While looking for examples of ads I could show on this blog, I learned that old ads on buildings are known as “ghost signs“. There are hundreds of wonderful Australian examples on the web, mostly photographed by people who reserve all rights. :-/ I’m grateful to those who choose to share. I’ll be posting ghost signs associated with most of the brands listed above.

Photo of a Bushells shop sign

Bushells: The Tea of Flavor

Not at all ghostly Bushells shop sign on the Bundanoon newsagent’s shop

Original photo by Danny Yee
Reproduced here with his kind permission

I love the way the steam rising from that cup looks like a baby squid (or part of a flannel flower) tumbling into the tea! Not so keen on the spelling of “flavor”. A cursory Trove search reveals that it was being used as far back as the 1930s – so it’s not that the recent owners don’t know the Australian spelling.


According to Wikipedia, Bushell’s was Australia’s tea trailblazer: Alfred Bushell is said to have opened the first tea shop in Australia in 1883, and his sons to have founded the first commercial tea seller in 1899. If you look at the Australian Dictionary of Biography, however, there were great swathes of 19th century tea merchants swanning about even earlier.

Bushells is blended, imported tea, as most teas sold in Australia are. Its old slogans focus on “finer flavor”:

  • More cups    Finer Flavor (one instance of “Flavour” found)
  • The Tea of Finer Flavor
  • Blue Label Tea: the Multi-refined Tea (one instance)

– Flickr search on “Bushells tea”

Finer than what? What counts as a fine flavour? But hang on; look at this!

Ad from the back page of a knitting pattern

Photo by Darren Davis on Flickr

License: Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0)

“Young tender leaves picked fresh and cured slowly, give Bushells Tea that enticing flavor.”

As well as the young, tender, enticing tea picker, a box of Bushells Blue Label Tea is shown, with the slogan “The flavor is finer”. Goodness me.

(This ad was photographed from the back cover of an old knitting pattern: Cushions and Cosies Series 6 published by Madame Weigel Pty Ltd of Richmond VIC.)

Just by the bye, my mother wouldn’t have Bushells tea in the house. She didn’t like its fine flavour. I on the other hand have revelled in the odd pot of Bushells tea: at Ida Bay in Tasmania in January 2013 and at the Bemboka Pie Shop on the way to the coast. It seemed to me good plain black tea – not too bitter, not too mild – that I could put a slosh of milk in and enjoy.

Bushells has been foreign-owned since 1978, and owned by the UK company Unilever since 1988.

Saturday 23 May 2015: Moments and Memories Tea Room, Beechworth

Only a promise of “the best tea shop ever” could have induced me to post again after so long. :-/ It was a remarkable tea shop, in Beechworth in Victoria: the Moments and Memories Tea Room. The website is worth a look, for more detail than you’ll find in these few photos. Our party at the tea room: Mackenzie, Janet, Marie, Geoff, and Dac

 Mackenzie, Janet, Marie, Geoff, and Dac: panorama by me

“Dripping in pink and white décor, tables are draped in white linen table cloths with gingham overlays, and are decorated with linen napkins and china tea sets.” In the website photos, you can see the wingèd tea strainers and sugar tongs, and the golden-bowled teaspoons tipped with little teapots. And the amazing collection of tea paraphernalia in the background. Section of a display of china teapots

The teapot I liked best in the vast collection:
the green pointy one with the purple flying pigs, of course!

Moments and Memories was recommended by our friend Janet, who now lives in Wodonga. Lured by the promise of a good choice of black teas, I assured her we’d meet her there when we visited Geoff and Marie in Mount Beauty. The time of the visit rolled around, and the stars aligned. Waiting at the tea room we found Janet and her son Mackenzie, a charming lad who takes a better photo than I do: Our party again: me, Dac, Janet, Marie, Geoff. Taken by Mackenzie

Me, Dac, Janet, Marie, Geoff

The staff were taken aback by Marie’s wheelchair/walker, and were preparing to move the furniture when Marie whipped out a walking stick and offered to walk over. The chair was folded and stowed and we were moved to a larger, more central table. The woman serving us was very pleasant, and the menu was full of tea – leaf tea, of course.

Unwilling to waste a tea-drinking opportunity on things I’ve never heard of (one day I’ll post the “Melbourne Afternoon Tea” story) I could have ordered about a dozen items from the menu. Usually I only have one option: English Breakfast. I settled for the normal black tea (I think that’s what it was actually called) listed at the end of the black teas, and was very happy with it.

We were issued with individual teapots to match the pretty fine-china cups already laid out. A large plain white pot of boiling water was served for the table to share, and a couple of jugs of milk. Sugar cubes were already on the table, for those that like that sort of thing.

We ordered devonshire tea. The homemade scones and jam were good but, by Canberra standards, pricy. I suppose the experience as much as the food and drink is covered. And it was a very pleasant experience.

Tea flavour: plain black (one of dozens of options)
Tea type:    leaves (not too many, not too few)
Pot:         ~600ml china         }
Cup:         china cup and saucer }    all matching
Jug:         china jug on saucer  }
Cost:        $12.50 for Devonshire tea

I’d go back – with the same crowd – many times, and try other types of black tea, if I could.

2014 Leaf Tea Round-up

I really enjoy leaf tea, so for Christmas I’m listing cafes that serve it, in Canberra and further afield. All but one of these cafes are described in the blog – the links will take you to their entries, although you may need to scroll down in a couple of cases.

Nearly all of these cafes charge $4 for a pot. (Teabag tea generally costs around $3.50.) Some of them charge more: for example, Bookplate charged $8 for a large pot, and Gus’s charged $4.50 for a 500ml pot. Generally the only black tea on offer is English Breakfast. Occasionally Irish Breakfast is also available – if the cafe hasn’t run out of it.

Good cuppas:

Also at chains:

Not so good:

  • Societea, Griffith – we were too cold and they were too slow and didn’t show much interest in tea
  • Paparazzi, Garran – make sure they put water on the tealeaves!

Not sure if these places are still serving leaf tea:

  • Phat Burger Cafe, Farrer – seems to have ceased to exist
  • Bookplate at the National Library – has closed and reopened since I was there

Out of town leaf tea:

Photo of teapot and appurtenances

Leaf tea at the Lotus Eaters Cafe, Cygnet

Best cuppa out:

Blessed Cheese, McLaren Vale SA: they brought a pot of hot water with the tea without being asked!

Happy Christmas, dear reader. 🙂

14 July 2014: Brewbar Cafe, Tuggeranong

Another fasting-blood-test day in Tuggeranong. Usually they’re only twice a year, but I’ve been having extra tests this year to make sure the nuking of my thyroid has worked. Dac came with me and we walked down to the Hyperdome for breakfast and a cuppa afterwards. Instead of going to the ever-reliable Coffee Club, we decided to try one of the places on Anketell Street. They’re usually packed out, but on this early Monday morning there was plenty of room.

I did the ordering. The tea menu was huge (details below) so I held out hopes for leaf tea, but no luck. To be on the safe side, I asked to have the teabag in the water. The staff member waved her hands at me as if that went without saying.

When my “tea” arrived, it consisted of a pot of hot water, a jug of milk, and a teabag in a dry cup. It was one of those WEAK bags, too. For this they’d charged $4, which is on the high side even in town.

The young woman who’d ignored my heartfelt request obviously wasn’t firing on all cylinders: she gave me $20 too much change. I would have picked it up eventually but she managed to notice it first.

Photo of tall tin pot on a plate with a doiley

Giant teapot at Brew Cafe

The tea menu was so extensive I didn’t feel I could stand around goggling at it forever, so I tried to memorise it. I checked by looking up the manufacturer’s website when I got home and was astonished to read all the ingredients. Here are the varieties on offer, and what’s in them:

  • English Breakfast,
  • Lavender Grey (basically Earl Grey with lavender),
  • Cleopatra’s Champagne (Chamomile Flowers, Lavender Buds and Rose Petals),
  • Fruits of Eden (Hibiscus flowers, rosehip, hawthorn berry, cranberry, lemon peel & natural cherry flavour),
  • Honeydew Green (Pure green tea, honeydew pieces & natural apricot flavour),
  • possibly Chamomile Blossoms (Chamomile Flowers, Lavender Buds and Rose Petals) etc. and
  • possibly Peppermint (Peppermint leaves).

Not much for the drinker of unscented black tea. The brand was TeaDrop. This is the mob who say:

“With the opportunity to brew their own cup of tea, the customer is able to partake in their very own tea ceremony, leaving satisfied every time.”

Not me!

Tea flavour: the usual
Tea type:    teabag, not in the water
Pot:         large tin
Cup:         china cup and saucer
Jug:         lip
Cost:        $4.00

Dac said the cappuccino was excellent. For me, the Brewbar Cafe was an egregious example of looking after the coffee drinkers while charging an arm and a leg for totally inadequate tea. And not listening.

Tuesday 8 July 2014: Societea, Griffith

Societea doesn’t have a website or Facebook page, but there are lots of reviews online, mostly glowing. I’ve had a nice lunch there in the past and I knew they made leaf tea. Apparently they are famous for high tea, which has to be booked two months in advance. There was a big table of young women the morning we were there – evidently morning tea is also a phenomenon. They sipped their tea through a forest of three-tiered cake plates.

Photo of teapot, milk jug, and fancy cup and saucer

Giant milk jug at Societea

The cafe is strung out along a corridor – sort of an arcade, except it’s lined with the backs of shops rather than the fronts. We were sat virtually in the outside doorway. It was a very cold day and cold at our table – and then a staff member came and propped open the door! She said something about needing air in the kitchen. My face must have fallen dramatically because she didn’t leave it open for long. Just as well! The temperature outside was perhaps 8 degrees, and it fell very rapidly to a similar level inside.

Another ordeal: accessing the toilets. They are screened off, with a very small gap between the two screens, and single tables in front. I was unable to get through without brushing both patrons’ shoulders with my clothes. :-/

Photo of pretty tea cup, saucer, and spoon

Pretty cup and saucer (and silver spoon!) at Societea

I was charmed by the fancy teacup and spoon: less impressed that I’d had to go to great lengths to find out what tea was on the menu and to get something other than the ubiquitous English Breakfast. I don’t mind EB, but in a place which has “tea” in its name, and where there are rows of tea tins in the kitchen, I’d have liked a list. And of course I’d have liked it not to consist entirely of EB plus herb, fruit and perfumed teas!

Tea flavour: Queen Mary
Tea type:    Tea leaves!
Teapot:      Tin pot
Cup:         Fine china cup & saucer
Jug:         Giant jug with lip
Cost:        ~$4

I ended up with Queen Mary tea, which was tolerable but smoky. According to a Facebook page called Bring back Twinings’ Queen Mary Tea, it’s “a superb hill grown Darjeeling with muscatel flavour”. QM was introduced in 1916 but discontinued after 90 years of production, so it hasn’t been available to buy since around 2006 – not that aged tea is necessarily a problem.

Hard to have a good and relaxing cuppa in all the circumstances. The staff were pleasant, but the service was glacial, and so was the ambient temperature!

Sunday 6 July 2014: The Phat Burger Cafe, Farrer

This is a great place. We first came here in 2011, and I don’t know why we haven’t been back. The only reason I can think of is that the name is offputting.

I checked in the Urban Dictionary and “phat” is alleged to be an initialism for “Pretty Hot And Tempting” or “Pussy, Hips, Ass, Tits”. Charming. You can sound really insulting while actually being insulting, and then you can deny it. Objectifiers r us.

I’m sure the proprietor, a friendly and pleasant person, was going for “pretty hot and tempting” in relation to her hamburgers. She says on the cafe’s Facebook page (which is informative, welcoming, and regularly updated):

“we do food for those that like to eat and enjoy food that has that homemade taste and appeal”.

Personally I wish she’d chosen another name.

Of course I understand that everyone must be occupied in minding everyone else’s business at all times – what else is there to do in life? With smoking in decline (in Canberra, anyway – everyone’s so virtuous here), fatness has become the sin against the Holy Ghost. The media and members of the medical profession froth and rant incessantly about the Obesity Epidemic, giving even once-polite people encouragement – nay, an obligation! – to police, judge, shame, and abuse fat people on sight.

As we made our way into the Phat Burger Cafe, we were obliged to pass two thin men of reasonably advanced years who appeared to have just left it. They were joyfully occupied in a conversation about what they shouldn’t have eaten. As we approached, their voices crescendoed and the words “fat” and “overweight” began to ring out.

This happens a lot.

Evidently these men thought if they shouted “fat” at us often enough we might turn away from our sinful ways and give lunch a miss. They’re fortunate I gave them a miss: one of these days, I’m going to yield to the temptation to kick some busybody in the shins. That’ll give ’em something else to think about. :-/

An aside

If you are among the many who don’t see any problem with harassing fat people, I suggest you try to keep up. There’s been research around for nearly 40 years that demonstrates very clearly that fatness is far more complicated than “calories in, calories out”, and also that what kills fat people is more likely hatred and bigotry than their weight.

Recommended reading:

Back to the tea!

Anyway, on this occasion, we got inside before I did anything violent, and we had a very nice lunch, complete with a very nice cup of tea for me.

Photo of jug, teacup, vase, teapot

Appurtenances at Phat Burger

Tea flavour: English breakfast, as I recall
Tea type:    Tea leaves!
Teapot:      See photo above. That hemisphere on top
             is a mystery!
Cup:         Coffee cup
Jug:         Lip
Cost:        ??

We’ll definitely go there again; I just wish they’d called themselves the Farrer Cafe.

June 2014: In between operations…

I’ve been busy having my eyes fixed, and am now officially way behind with my blog. :-/

4 June: California Cafe, Mawson

This is a fairly new cafe, where the Plaka Restaurant used to be at Southlands shopping centre. I was a bit put off by its name (we’re not the 51st state yet, are we?) but we decided to try it anyway.

Inside, there was no mention of tea on the menus that were painted up around the place, so I nearly turned round and walked out again. “Of course we have tea!” they told me, and look:

Photo of tea cup, pot, milk jug

Very elegant cup and saucer at California Cafe!

This is the first and only place, since I started this blog, where I’ve been served a fancy teacup. It’s always a positive addition to the tea drinking experience. 🙂

Tea flavour: English breakfast
Tea type: teabag
Teapot: small spherical ceramic pot 
Cup: crenellated gold and white cup and saucer
Milk: jug
Cost: ~$3.50

9 June: Bitter Sweet, Kingston

My sister drove down from Sydney to take me to the first cataract operation, which was scheduled for the Tuesday after the long weekend. She arrived on the Queen’s birthday holiday Monday, at afternoon tea time, so off we went to Kingston. Normally we go to the Kingston Grind, but they were just closing, as was every other cafe in Kingston except for Bitter Sweet. Good on Bitter Sweet!

Photo of large teacup, milk jug, teapot

Giant teacup with milk jug, pot of Sail On tea, and Fiona’s cup of cino

The types of tea weren’t listed anywhere, so I asked our staff member, who reeled off the following:

  • English Breakfast
  • Earl Grey
  • Sail On tea

and that’s where I stopped listening. When she came to the end of the herbal infusions, I asked her what Sail On tea was, and while she was looking nonplussed, I realised she’d been talking about Ceylon tea! So that’s what I ordered. I’m pretty sure the other two black teas are Sail On tea as well, but never mind – a change is as good as a holiday, and it was fine.

I dare say a young person will hardly ever have heard the name Ceylon, whereas I will never forget it, thanks to Mrs Bandaranaike. I’m pretty sure she was the first woman Prime Minister ever.

Tea flavour: Ceylon tea
Tea type: teabag
Teapot: tin pot 
Cup: enormous - see photo above
Milk: jug
Cost: ~$4.00

I won’t review the tea that was provided after the cataract operation on Tuesday. When I settled down enough to drink it, I was very glad of it!

21 June: 38 Espresso, Kingston Foreshore

There followed a long pause between outings. I couldn’t drive, and then we had some pretty bad weather: days that didn’t get into double figures, days where the fog didn’t lift, days of wind and rain. On Saturday 21 June the sun was shining, at least, so we ventured out into the biting wind and wandered around the Kingston Foreshore, where we hadn’t been for a while.

All along the waterfront, the ground floors of the blocks of flats (“premium apartment complexes”) are now occupied by cafes and restaurants. Crowds – mostly young families and dog-walkers – promenade, visit the strange pebbly park, or sit outside the cafes. We chose 38 Espresso because I’d seen good reviews, and sat inside because the wind had bitten us enough. Inside was where all the older people were. 🙂

Dac ordered for us and, knowing I’m pretty bored with English Breakfast tea, accepted the offer of Blue Mountain tea. His cappuccino was served in an attractively rough blue pottery bol, and I was pleased with my almost-matching red teaset and jam spoon (missing its little picture on the handle). The milk jug had no lip so I tried to avoid drips by employing sleight of hand and – as usual – failed.

Photo of teacup, pot, milk jug, and coffee mug

Equipment at 38 Espresso

Tea flavour: Blue Mountain
Tea type: leaves!
Teapot: small ceramic pot 
Cup: red ceramic cup and saucer with matching milk pot
Milk: jug with no lip :-/
Cost: unknown but probably ~$4

Unfortunately, Blue Mountain tea proved to be spicy and sweet – anathema to me. Sometimes cafe tea tastes spicy and sweet because the vessels have been used for chai, and that’s what I thought had happened here. I asked one of the cheery and friendly staff and he brought me a bottle of Blue Mountain tea-leaves to look at. It featured long black leaves and bright blue flowers, and is meant to taste spicy and sweet. I’ll know next time!

28 June: Hello Cafe – “The coffee oasis of Campbell”

Tired of waiting for the weather to improve, Dac and I embarked on a walk up one side of Anzac Parade and down the other. Dac used to live nearby, in Reid, so he might have done this walk before, but I never had.

Anzac Parade adorns Canberra’s main land axis between Parliament House and the War Memorial on Mount Ainslie. I learn from its Wikipedia article that the wide-open spaces down the middle actually constitute a parade ground. I’m not going to say much about the memorials along the way, or the spaces for future memorials, except that I find them terribly sad – which is probably why I’ve never walked along Anzac Parade before.

Phone photo, not very good, showing (with a photo in the other direction) the ominous weather

Parliament House, from the middle of Anzac Parade – the weather was even worse than it looks

When we stopped in the middle, Dac took some photos with my phone to show the louring sky.

Phone photo, not very good, showing (with a photo in the other direction) the ominous weather

Mount Ainslie from the middle of Anzac Parade

There was an icy wind as well, and my balance was pretty awful that day, so we didn’t walk the entire length of the Parade. Perhaps another day. It was definitely time for a hot drink and we ended up at the Hello Cafe in Campbell.

Photo of tea cup, milk jug, pot on wooden tray

Tea equipment, Hello Cafe, Campbell

The tea choices were:

  • Green Tea
  • Earl Grey
  • Mango
  • Chai
  • Peppermint
  • English Breakfast
  • Irish Breakfast
  • Chamomile

Unfortunately they were out of Irish Breakfast. It has finally occurred to me that herbal tea and fruit infusions are much more popular than Real Tea.

Tea flavour: English breakfast
Tea type: "luxury loose leaf pyramid tea bag"
           from the Temple Tea Company
Teapot: tin pot 
Cup: white ceramic cup
Milk: jug
Cost: $4.20

30 June: Nourish at Woden

Nourish is in the building where I had my second cataract operation. It went very smoothly and I enjoyed my tea and sandwiches afterwards. Then there was time for another cuppa at Nourish, where they are used to people with big bandages on their eyes, while Dac went across to the Plaza to get my prescribed eye-drops. He came back for me in a taxi and I was sorry to have to abandon my second-rinse third cup!

They were offering only English Breakfast and Green tea, but it was leaves. 🙂

Photo of tea cup, pot, milk jug

Tea equipment, Nourish at Woden

Tea flavour: English breakfast
Tea type: leaves!
Teapot: small spherical ceramic pot 
Cup: black ceramic cup
Milk: small glass :-/
Cost: $4.00

A quiet month for tea, but a good one.

May 2014: Back home, only three cuppas

I came back from Adelaide very tired, but with tickets for ten or eleven concerts in the Canberra International Music Festival, which kicked off a couple of days after we got home. Most of the concerts were at night and my eyes were being difficult. Parking was also difficult, as was managing medication which must be taken with meals, when there was no time for meals. I got tireder and tireder. As soon as the festival was over, I came down with a novel form of the dreaded lurgi. May wasn’t a great month for cuppas!

11 May: Coffee Guru, Mawson

Dac and I visited our local shopping centre at Southlands on a Sunday afternoon. I think we walked down to buy some groceries – our routine was all over the place. Before tackling the climb back home, we decided to have a cuppa. It was around 3.30 pm. Only the Coffee Guru was open, and not for long.

We’d sworn never to darken its doors again after a bad experience last year. The place had looked open, with plenty of customers around. We walked in, queued to be served, and were then asked if we were going to sit inside or out. As we replied, the staff member suddenly announced “Anyway, we’re closed”. It came as a complete shock, wasted our time, and was very rudely done.

I was desperate for a cuppa, and thought I remembered this chain serving leaf tea, so I clamoured to go there in defiance of our ban. (As it turns out, I was thinking of the Coffee Club – fortunately the Coffee Guru also serves leaf tea!)

Photo of table at Coffee Guru with black teapot, cup & saucer; tin jugs for water & milk; opposite, basket of sugar packets and Dac's giant coffee cup

Coffee Guru appurtenances

The second milk jug seen above contained hot water. Another place where they think “a pot of boiling water” means a tiny jug!

We had quite a pleasant experience until a staff member started mopping around us. I was concerned I was going to have to Say Something. Once, in Adelaide, we were mopped around in the middle of a Mexican meal and the smell of disinfectant totally overwhelmed the taste of the food. :-/ This wasn’t as stinky, mercifully, but it wasn’t restful.

Tea flavour: plain (English Breakfast?)
Tea type: leaves
Cost: $4ish
Teapot: ceramic
Cup: large - see photo
     (but not as large as the large coffee cup!)

15 May: the Portrait Cafe revisited

It was a two-concert day with no time to get home in between. I had to be at the High Court by 4.30 pm. Parking at that hour is a problem – there’s none at the court, and the carparks of the nearby buildings close at 5. It was good that I had about an hour in which to find somewhere to leave the car and stagger to my destination.

I was lucky enough to nab a spot behind the Admin Building (whatever it’s called now – the John Gorton Building?), less than a kilometre away, which meant I had time to stop off at the Portrait Cafe for a cuppa. Many other festival-goers had the same idea. The place was thronging.

Photo of wooden tray with teapot, spoon, cup, and tiny milk bottle

New equipment at the Portrait Gallery

I’ve written before about the Portrait Cafe. This entry is just to note that they’ve changed their tea equipment. I think this is mysterious: I’m pretty sure the same people are running the place. Why would they make such a change? Just to be modish?

Instead of a white ceramic teapot with matching milk jug, and a black cup and saucer, we now have a small black cast-iron teapot (very heavy!) on a wooden tray. The black cup might be the same one as before. The milk is served in one of those miniature bottles from which I have yet to succeed in pouring my dash of milk without getting drips everywhere.

(Dac is of the opinion that I might as well give up milk in my tea because I take such a very small amount. While I feel bad about all the smidgens of milk I cause to be wasted in cafes, I cannot do without milk in my tea. A drop of milk takes the temperature down so that I don’t have to wait what seems like hours before taking a sip, and it also takes a tiny edge of bitterness away. I make an exception for Prince of Wales, the wine of tea, so smooth that it needs no additives – and such a beautiful colour, as well. Oh, and I wouldn’t dream of taking milk in herbal tea – but life is too short for herbal tea!)

Saturday 31 May: Caffe Cherry Beans am Wodenplatz

Birthe and I managed to meet up after several false starts. We were just going to go to Muffin Break (previously reviewed) but there was an enormous queue so we kept walking to the end of the plaza, where we found Caffe Cherry Beans. This is a chain I hadn’t heard of before, and I don’t know how long they’ve been in Woden.

As always, coffee is their specialty, but they provide the following teas:

  • English Breakfast
  • Earl Grey
  • Green Tea
  • Chamomile
  • Organic Tea:
    • Lemongrass & Ginger
    • Peppermint

Only one option for me, then, but at least it was leaf tea. 🙂 When asked for an extra pot of hot water, they (like Coffee Guru, above) gave me a tiny milk jug with hot water. Later I grabbed a staff member and got a second rinse.

Photo of tea cup, pot, and two jugs

Nice big cup, leaf tea, milk jug full of milk and milk jug full of hot water!

It seemed a good place: the tea was nice, and the staff were helpful and friendly.

Tea flavour: English Breakfast
Tea type: tealeaves
Cost: $3.80
Teapot: small ceramic pot (see photo)
Cup: large ceramic cup & saucer (see photo)

I liked it so much I’ve already been back.

South Australian cuppas 3/3

6? May 2014: Crema on Jetty, Glenelg

When I booked our hotel in Adelaide (Chifley on South Terrace, practically next door to another Chifley, which of course we went to first) I read out to Dac the proud boast that it was three minutes’ walk from a tram to the city. He snorted. “Not for you!” Sure enough, it took me quite a lot longer to trudge across the parkland to the tram stop. Nevertheless Dac got to converse along the way with teachers from Pulteney Grammar who were timing kids’ runs: “How’d we do?”

The tram went to Glenelg in one direction and the city in the other. We chose Glenelg, having had good breakfasts there in the past. A tram arrived, we negotiated the automatic ticket machines, and we shot off to Glenelg. Later I found out that seniors could travel off-peak at no charge. :-/

I enjoyed looking at the houses along the tram route. They were unlike Canberra houses of course, but also unlike other houses I’ve seen, especially close to the sea. I wondered if there was a German influence in the patterned bricks and unfamiliar finials. A bit of online research hasn’t turned up any explanations, although I found mention of a Glenelg/Holdfast Bay area Art Deco and Moderne Tour. The 1920s was one of Glenelg’s growth times.

At the end of Jetty Road there’s a plethora of cafes. We chose Crema on Jetty and sat outside with my friends the pigeons in a plastic-curtained area. The breakfast was fine, and the tea, which the proprietor was very proud of, was OK.

Photo of mug of tea

Not as good as the breakfast!

Tea flavour: Organic Breakfast
Tea type: "silken pouch"
Cost: $4ish
Teapot: none
Cup: see photo

The brand of tea was unfamiliar: Mighty Leaf Tea, a South Australian firm. “Organic Breakfast is a robust, wide-awake blend of premium certified organic black tea leaves from Ceylon, Darjeeling and Assam. Our take on the classic English Breakfast is serene contemplation from dawn to dusk.” The company takes a lot of trouble to produce biodegradable teabags

I didn’t make notes at the time but I have a feeling it was the usual problem with silken teabags – not as strong as I would have liked. Being served one mug makes me feel bad about going up and asking for a refill – somehow it doesn’t seem as bad when the teabag is hidden away in a teapot!

We took the tram back into the city, watching nervously as it grew more and more packed, and then we went on the O-Bahn because I liked it so much last year and thought Dac needed to experience it. It’s fast and goes through the Torrens Linear Park so you see people strolling and cycling and walking their dogs as you racket along.

7 May 2014: Art Gallery of SA

Photo of tray with tea paraphernalia and a hand in the background

Dac indicating the scale of the teapot

Someone on the plane over exhorted Jill to go to the 2014 Adelaide Biennial, an exhibition at the Art Gallery of SA. Jill didn’t get to see it but we thought we’d have a squiz. It was entitled Dark Heart, and was said to explore Australia’s cultural identity through the lens of some of Australia’s leading contemporary artists. We found it very dark indeed.

Dac’s sister Julie, who accompanied us, seemed to appreciate it more. Almost the only piece I didn’t find scary or stomach-churning was the sculpture Clouds by Ian Burns, which was “comprised of aluminium ladders, fans, keyboards, televisions, umbrellas and magnifying glasses” – a bit like my life, really, apart from the umbrellas.

There’s something remarkably tiring about wandering round exhibitions, so it was a great joy to discover that the cafe (Art Gallery Food + Wine) served leaf tea! I made no notes so I can’t say more about it than that it was very welcome.



Some general tea history


The following timeline is largely drawn from information found in the thesis Bushells and the cultural logic of branding by Susie Khamis, Australia: Macquarie University, 2007. I found it a fascinating read! Other sources include home pages of various brands of tea.

Tea Timeline

1650-1788 Coffee was popular, apparently befitting an era famed for its intellectualism! But by the end…
1788 Even members of the First Fleet craved tea
to 1838 The only country exporting tea was China
to 1880s Tea cultivation in India and Ceylon was increasing, but most still came from China
1883 Most Australians consumed tea at most meals; tea could be regarded as the national beverage
1904 84% of the tea in New South Wales came from India and Ceylon, with only 8% from China
1908 First teabags produced in the US, after accidental invention. Another 50 years before they took off elsewhere
1929 Australia the world’s premier teadrinking nation, consumption briefly eclipsing that of the UK
1938 Nescafé instant coffee first introduced in Switzerland. WWII prevented it from taking off. Its inclusion in the food rations of American soldiers helped popularise it, including in Australia
1942-1950 Tea rationing in Australia
After WWII The 1936-39 tea consumption figure of 3.1 kilograms was never matched
According to Susie Khamis, the primacy of tea in Australia succumbed to:

  • the introduction of Nescafé;
  • the cultural resonance of its convenience;
  • the dazzling lead of the United States; and
  • the arrival of coffee-savvy Italians
1950 Gallup poll, March 1950:

  • 10% of the population drank at least 10 cups of tea a day
  • a further 47% drank 5 to 8 cups
  • 55% claimed to have never tried coffee
  • 24% said they seldom drank coffee
“From the 1950s and into the 1960s, Americans’ adoption of all things plastic, synthetic or frozen appeared to render them attractive to consumers elsewhere, including Australia”
1971 Unilever acquired Lipton tea. Within a decade, it was leading in teabag sales
1978 Bushells was sold to British tea giant, Brooke Bond
1979 For the first time Australians consumed more coffee than tea
mid-1980s Growth in the popularity of teabags
~1987 Tea market went from being mostly Australian-owned to being mostly foreign-owned in <10 years
1988 Unilever bought Brooke Bond and hence acquired Bushells
57% of the value of the tea market was in tagged teabags; just 28.6% was in leaf tea
1991 Australian-made Nerada tea (a story which began in 1882) went on the national market
1992 A $165 million tea market dominated by Unilever
(Nerada had acquired a 5% share in 12 months, however!)
Australians were ranked just eighth in the world in their consumption of tea; 60% of that was teabags
mid-1990s Growth in the popularity of herbal teas
2007 Growth in the popularity of bespoke or little-known varieties (also happening overseas)