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

Does Orange Pekoe Tea Taste of Oranges?

July 2, 2016 by Bruce Richardson

William III Statue at Kensington Palace
Every tea room owner can tell you a story about a customer who sent back their pot of Orange Pekoe tea because it did not taste of oranges.
The answer to the drinker’s dilemma may be found in the fact that Orange Pekoe is one of the most common grades of […]


Tea Helped the British Keep Calm and Carry On

June 22, 2016 by Bruce Richardson

Serving Tea Following London Blitz
As German bombs fell on London in September 1939, the British tea industry faced a dilemma they had feared for some time. How would they protect their precious commodity that fueled an empire?  Tea.
Lord Woolton, Minister of Food, recounted the tumultuous time: “When London was being persistently bombed, I had to […]


Lloyds of London Began in a London Coffee/Tea House

June 15, 2016 by Bruce Richardson

Catherine of Braganza
Lloyds of London, one of the oldest insurers in the UK, was birthed at Lloyds Coffee House on Tower Street in 1688, soon after a tax was placed on tea brewed in coffee houses.
A tax was first levied not on the dry leaf tea, but on brewed tea found in coffee houses.
Charles II […]


Is Rooibos a True Tea?

May 30, 2016 by Bruce Richardson

Rooibos or Red Bush might be a common beverage found in tea cups across South Africa, but it is not a true tea. And 19th century London tea traders did not welcome the import to their stage.
Proceedings at the London Auction Room following the demise of the East India Company were most carried on in […]


Does Tea Grow in America?

May 9, 2016 by Bruce Richardson

Did tea ever grow in the America?  Yes, and it flourishes now as never before.
Robert Fortune, Scottish Botanist
On July 21, 1857, Charles Mason, United State Commissioner of Patents, wrote to his seed suppliers in London to inquire about the probable cost of about ten bushels of tea seed, along with expenses that might be incurred […]


A Poetic Riddle in a Teacup

April 30, 2016 by Bruce Richardson

If you are cold, tea will warm you;
if you are too heated, it will cool you;
If you are depressed, it will cheer you;
If you are excited, it will calm you.
William Gladstone, PM
This famous tea quotation is attributed to British Prime Minister William Gladstone (1809 –1898) whose public career lasted over sixty years. Gladstone served as […]


The First American Ship to Carry Tea from China to London

April 24, 2016 by Bruce Richardson

The first American ship to carry a cargo of tea from China to London after the repeal of the Navigation Laws was the clipper Oriental, 1,003 tons, built for A. A. Low & Brother, New York, by Jacob Bell in 1849. She was 185 feet long, 36 feet in breadth, and built of live oak, […]


Boston’s Great London Tea Company

March 24, 2016 by Bruce Richardson

The Great London Tea Company was one of several Boston-based tea importers that operated in the late 1800s. Their offices were on Washington Street, one of the city’s busiest shopping areas, and located just down the street from Old South Meeting House.
A look into their sales brochure from 1887 gives us a look into the […]


When was Tea First Taxed in England?

March 11, 2016 by Bruce Richardson

When was tea first taxed in England? Tea first appeared upon the English statutes in 1660 during the reign of Charles II, in which an excise duty of eight pence was placed on every gallon of tea, chocolate, and sherbet sold. Act XXI required keepers of coffee-houses to take out a license at the Quarter […]


Porcelain tea cups often cracked under heat

February 6, 2016 by Bruce Richardson

Early 1700s Chinese tea bowl and saucer
Was milk first added to tea cups in order to protect delicate porcelain from cracking under the heat of hot water?
Maybe. It depends when the teacup was made and who made it.
All early china teapots and cups, whether sitting on tea tables in London or Boston, were imported from […]