… for a new teapot. Deana suggests the new Clara from Bodum:

I like, I like, but not sure that I need a kettle so much as a capacious pot. Suggestions?

Interesting interview in the Times business section with the head of Bigelow tea — the reporter focuses on how Bigelow is trying to position itself in new media, and indeed, the company’s Web site is rife with info, including recipes, health news, and a blog. Cindi Bigelow also has a YouTube account, where she tells you how to make tea; but don’t worry, she’s not too uptight — she even notes that the “tea police won’t come to your house if you don’t do it right.”

Tomorrow? I’m totally going to the Coffee and Tea Festival (Metropolitan Pavilion, 125 W. 18th St., between 6th and 7th Avenues), even if a day pass is $20. It promises:

  • Coffee and tea sampling
  • Lectures / Classes
  • Shopping
  • Contests
  • Demonstrations
  • Art
  • Java/Tea Lounge with music & entertainment
  • Funds will be raised for the official event charity, Cup for Education

If you’re in NY, come! I’ll be there with bells on. OK, not really. I’ll probably wear all black like I always do. But you get the picture.

…but it doesn’t stop me from dreaming about tea-themed goodies, like this print from RansomStone on Etsy:

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… for the perfect teapot. The spout of ours lamentably broke. I am mopping up a lot of spilled tea these days, and that’s just a pity. I’d love to get the Black Forest Teapot (by Bodo Sperlein for Dibbern), but it’s $185. And I’m pretty clumsy; my butterfingers are classic.

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… is always nice, but if I poured with this pot, the romantic feelings would probably have to be put on hold as I mopped double the mess from my lap. Design via Marla Dawn Home.

A group in Indore, Madhya Pradesh, India, just set the world record for the largest tea party — 32,000 people gathered for a ritual cuppa, breaking the record previously set in Japan.

“From an industrialist to the man on the street, a cup of tea is a major bonding factor in India,” said Sanjay Mani, general manager of the Dainik Bhaskar newspaper, which helped arrange the event.

Darjeeling, anyone?

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Current obsession? Making my morning brew in a Mono Fillio 50-ounce pot. Now, if only I could justify spending $139 on a tea accessory …

BoingBoing Gadgets highlights a new gizmo that heats water for your cuppa in three seconds. Not exactly sure why it’s necessary — my electric kettle only takes a minute or two to heat up my water, and I’ve never felt unduly put out by those 57 extra seconds — but if you’re an extravagant spender, or incredibly impatient, or a collector of all things tea-related, I suppose the Tefal QuickCup’s sorta neat.

One of my latest guilty pleasures has been doing Google Book searches on my favorite topics. A search for “tea” yielded a full scan of Kakuzo Okakura’s The Book of Tea, a meditation upon the social meaning of the beverage (particularly in Japan, but larger meaning can certainly be extrapolated). Okakura writes:

Teaism is a cult founded on the adoration of the beautiful among the ordinary facts of everyday existence. It inculcates purity and harmony, the mystery of mutual charity, the romanticism of the social order. It is essentially a worship of the Imperfect, as it is a tender attempt to accomplish something possible in this impossible thing we know as life. … [W]hen we consider how small after all the cup of human enjoyment is, how easily drained to the dregs in our quenchless thirst for infinity, we shall not blame ourselves for making so much of the tea-cup.

Okakura also offers insight on the foibles of globalization (applicable, still, 100 years after he penned this tome):

Unfortunately the Western attitude is unfavorable to the understanding of the East. The Christian missionary goes to impart, but not to receive. Your information is based on the meagre translations of our immense literature, if not the unreliable anecdotes of passing travellers.

(And, an addendum in the form of a cool link: the National Institute of Health has an interesting collection of info on America’s tea craze, which blossomed right around the time Okakura’s book came out.)

Lusting after this gorgeous teapot and cups by Brazil’s Estudio Manus, available via Do Not Touch.

And/or, perfectly acceptable goods with which to lavish me for Valentine’s Day:

“Alice’s Tea Party” limited edition print, $55, via kjsdesign on Etsy

Sterling silver teapot necklace, $60, via ballandchain on Etsy

White porcelain teapot, $85, via New Moon Studio on Etsy

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Mice having tea card, $4.50, via Foxy & Winston on Elsewares

One of my favorite places in Delhi is a small shop tucked into Lodhi Colony’s Khanna Market; the man there sells all manner of coffee and tea, including hard-to-find (in the subconty) brews like genmaicha. But even though the proprietor cordially chats as he has someone grind fresh beans just as you like them, the best part of the place hands down is the large framed posters on the wall of what appear to be vintage ads from the Coffee Board of India.

The image I’ve posted here is from the Coffee Board’s Web site, but for the life of me I can’t find any other of these gems. Anyone got a hot lead?

An MP in the U.K. has called for the introduction of tea trolleys — manned by a bevy of beautiful young ladies, natch — at airports as a salve for weary travelers.

The managing director for Waitrose, who also supports the idea, said, “I do a lot of foreign travel and I have been progressively disappointed with how poor it feels when you return home. The whole experience is pretty bleak. I thought wouldn’t it be nice if, when you arrived in the UK, you were greeted with a nice cup of tea.”

But for the concomitant sexism, I’d say it’s not a half-bad notion.

… but still not lazy enough to necessitate the purchase of a pot I don’t have to lift.

While Lotte Alpert’s design may be sleek and stylish, I’m still not sure its function is meaningful.

Not content with the widespread press wrought by the Nano, the Tata Group just announced another big venture: a chain of tea shops for the 21st century.

An MSN reporter writes:

Tata Tea has forayed into the out-of-home beverage segment by unveiling its first outlet of Chai Unchai in Bangalore.

Sangeeta Talwar, executive-director, Tata Tea, said: “Chai Unchai is crafted as a retail space in the out-of home segment that connects with youth in an exciting and differentiated manner. The new adda or hangout is designed to be cool. It will neither be a kiosk nor a parlour but will have an ambience that is warm, friendly, unpretentious and fun.”

I’m interested to see their menu — will they kick it old school, or will they start to introduce new-fangled concoctions like bubble tea and smoothies? But ultimately, I’m a bit skeptical; if chains like this start pushing out the Everyman chaiwallah, an ineffably important part of Indian culture will fade from existence. The thought that the competing Moon Light Cafe and Sun Rise Cafe might give way to an outpost of Chai Unchai is amazingly depressing.

Anyone have an extra hundred or so bones for indulging in this lust-worthy new pot? 

Joey Roth‘s Sorapot is a marvel: a bit mod for my taste (I’m over stainless steel), but I’m not sure if I’ve seen such an imaginative wholesale rethinking of a ubiquitous kitchen utensil.

About 10,000 tea stalls in Chennai (formerly Madras), India, are closed in protest of spiraling fuel costs — an interesting story in the context of global energy costs, etc.

The story I’ve linked to is quite short; I’ve only found mentions of the strike in The Hindu and IndiaInteracts.com, and the reporting is woefully insufficient. Are the stall owners being reactionary? Have long-time subsidies given way to what the government and/or regulators perceive as more “fair” pricing? How does this (or can this) contrast with the reaction of, say, Americans to higher gas prices?

Discuss.

January is National Hot Tea Month! How did I miss this? Move over, Blood Donor, Braille Literacy, Hobbies, Oatmeal, and Soup: hot tea is what makes January January. (For a comprehensive list of inconsequential holidays (Feast of Fabulous Wild Men Day, aka January 12, why didn’t you announce your presence?!) in the first month of the year, I suggest HolidayInsights.com.)

I can’t tell if this is a joke or not, but if it isn’t … well, you better believe I’ll be paying an outrageous $24.99 to taste 100% monkey-picked tea. That’s right: tea. Picked by monkeys.

Think Geek notes:

The legendary flavor is something that can only be tasted to be believed. Monkey Picked Tea is truly in a class by itself. Full of antioxidants, this tea will calm your soul, temper your spirit, and put you in divine touch with your monkey ancestors.

This one time, when I went up in the Himalayas and stayed in a town that boasts the world’s highest cricket grounds, we were packing up the car to leave our hotel and left the car’s hatch open. My partner was in the lobby, settling the bills, and I carted our pillows outside — when I realized that there were three huge monkeys galloping full speed to our measly little car. One was already sitting in the drivers seat, looking about five seconds away from buckling himself in and careering off down the winding mountain roads. No head for self-preservation, I ran shrieking toward the monkeys, which then set off a chain reaction of hotel employees gasping and sputtering in Hindi about how dangerous the primates were. At that point, the whole thing became a blur, but somehow, someone (possibly with the aid of a large stick and/or delicious foodstuffs) extricated the monkey from our vehicle. I still don’t entirely trust them, but who knows? Perhaps they have a discerning palate for a good first flush.