The Tea Master's Blog

Author: Bruce Richardson
Tea Master for the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum

Mr. Richardson, a native Kentuckian, is a leading tea expert and spends much of his time educating Americans in the art of celebrating the communal cup of tea. He is a writer, photographer, tea blender, and frequent guest speaker at tea events across the country. and can often be found appearing on television and radio talk shows, or as a guest speaker at professional seminars such as World Tea Expo.
  • The Great Tea Rooms of Britain
  • The Great Tea Rooms of America
  • The New Tea Companion for The National Trust of England with London's Jane Pettigrew
  • Tea in the City, a three-volume set of travel guides to tea in New York, London and Paris with Jane Pettigrew and Elizabeth Knight.
  • Tea & Etiquette

  • Owner of Elmwood Inn Fine Teas and Benjamin Press
  • Contributing editor and designer for the 2011 edition of The Book of Tea by former Boston MFA Asian Arts Director, Okakura Kakuzo.
  • Columnist for Tea Time magazine

Monkey-picked Tea?

April 10, 2014 by Bruce Richardson

I received a call a few months ago from MTV asking how monkeys were trained to pick tea.
I had to break the news to them that westerners had been falling for that story since way before the time tea was tossed into Boston Harbor. It was one of the marketing ploys used to make Chinese [...]


Mr. Selfridge took the Marshall Field’s Tea Room to London

April 7, 2014 by Bruce Richardson

Marshall Field’s Tea Room, Chicago

In 1890, Harry Gordon Selfridge, manager of Marshall Field’s in Chicago, enrolled the help of Sarah Haring to assist with a new project at the store. She was in many ways, a typical American woman of her era—wife of a businessman and a mother. Neither aristocratic nor impoverished, Haring was needed [...]


Did Colonial Boston Enjoy High Tea?

December 29, 2013 by Bruce Richardson

English Women Drinking Tea After Dinner coloured engraving by French School
Hostesses in the fine homes of Beacon Street certainly had all the accoutrements for serving tea in colonial Boston but the term “high tea” would not come into use for another 100 years. Even then, upper class Bostonians did not refer to their teatime by [...]


Five Facts You Didn’t Know About the Boston Tea Party

December 10, 2013 by Bruce Richardson

All the tea aboard the three East India ships in Boston Harbor on the night of December 16, 1773 came from China, not India.
The East India Company shipped Chinese teas from the port of Canton to their London docks and warehouses. From there, the tea was transported to American cities along the Eastern Seaboard. [...]


Boston and the American Tea Room Craze

November 21, 2013 by Bruce Richardson

Two ladies out for a drive in their Ford
America’s love affair with tea rooms began a century ago and the area around Boston was the first to witness this boom as tea rooms popped up in every little village. The sudden popularity of tea rooms was brought about by three remarkable social phenomena:

the advent of the automobile,
the temperance movement, and
women’s quest [...]


Jane Austen’s Tea Things

November 5, 2013 by Bruce Richardson

I spoke recently to the North American Jane Austen Society at their annual convention in Minneapolis. My talk was on The Tea Things of Jane Austen. This Regency period writer often used tea as a literary tool to bring the sexes together, and the term “tea things” was sometimes used to set the stage for [...]


Tea Smuggling

October 31, 2013 by Bruce Richardson

Throughout the 1700s, consumers found ways to avoid the heavy taxes and duties levied on popular products. A complex network of smuggling brought untaxed supplies into Britain. Fishermen’s boots were filled with gloves and jewelry, women’s petticoats were padded out with lace and silk stockings, hollow loaves of bread concealed amber and more lace, sailcloth [...]


The London Tea Auction 1679-1998

September 30, 2013 by Bruce Richardson

East India House Tea Auction, London 1808
The London Tea Auction was a grand tradition that lasted over 300 years. From the very first event in March 1679, the auction was a regular event that made London the centre of the international tea trade. The first auctions were held by the East India Company, which at [...]


Who was Earl Grey?

September 15, 2013 by Bruce Richardson

Right Honorable Charles, Earl Grey, 1833, The second Earl Grey (Image courtesy of The British Library)
Every tea drinker knows Earl Grey tea, the world’s favorite flavored tea. But few people know that the tea is named after Charles, the 2nd Earl Grey and British Prime Minister from 1830 to 1834.
The original recipe for this beloved blend simply calls [...]


London’s Tea Clipper – Cutty Sark

August 26, 2013 by Bruce Richardson

Cutty Sark Tea Clipper
The iconic clipper ship Cutty Sark has come back to life in her new all-weather Greenwich dry dock on the eastern edge of London, not far from where tea clippers once brought cargos of tea into the warehouses of the East India Company. Her journey here was not without incident, and we are fortunate [...]