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

The First Mention of Tea by an Englishman

November 15, 2014 by Bruce Richardson

The earliest mention of tea —as “chaw”—by an Englishman is the famous Wickham letter of 1615.
The letter was found in a set of old records entitled Japan Miscellanies, consisting of copies of letters from Richard Wickham, the East India Company’s factor at Hirado (Japan’s only port of trade to the world located in Nagasaki Prefecture).
Wickham [...]


Catherine – The First British Tea-Drinking Queen

November 5, 2014 by Bruce Richardson

It is said that when Catherine of Braganza arrived from Portugal to marry Charles II in 1662, she brought with her a casket of tea. Since the Portuguese had been importing tea to Europe from the beginning of the seventeenth century, Catherine had grown up drinking tea as the preferred everyday beverage.
Catherine of Braganza (age [...]


Tea Caddies in Salem

October 31, 2014 by Bruce Richardson

Tea caddy early 1800s, Guangzhou, China.
The Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA houses a treasure chest of historic tea wares that colorfully illustrate the art of tea in Chinese and Japanese cultures at the time of the Boston Tea Party. Originally a maritime museum, these extensive collections includes many exquisite items carried to the colonies [...]


Telling your Fortune in a Teacup

September 25, 2014 by Bruce Richardson

Within the American tea room movement of the 1920s, gypsy tea rooms emerged as a unique phenomenon with roots that extended back to the 1880s.
Many immigrant women had established fortune telling enterprises in major American cities, but the practice had been frowned on and ordinances were enacted to ban payment for fortune telling services. In [...]


Who Invented the Teabag?

September 22, 2014 by Bruce Richardson

Tea mythology claims that the teabag was invented by New York tea merchant Thomas Sullivan in 1904 when he sent out samples packed in small silk pouches. That may not be true.
As often happens in history, we cannot always look to a single creation event to permanently enshrine a flashpoint of human discovery. Ideas more often [...]


Kew: Home of George III

August 10, 2014 by Bruce Richardson

Kew Palace from the Gardens. Photo by Bruce Richardson 2014.
On the morning of Saturday 25 October 1760, George II died suddenly at Kensington Palace.  His eldest son, Frederick, had died in 1752 and the crown therefore went to Frederick’s first born son, the 22 year old George, whose boyhood had been spent largely with his mother [...]


The Fall and Rise of Kew Palace

August 9, 2014 by Bruce Richardson

As the family of King George III and Queen Charlotte grew, Kew took on more of a secondary role to other royal residences in the 1780s with more time spent at Windsor and Weymouth. However, in November 1788 George III was brought to Kew from Windsor suffering from his first episode of illness. In 1801 [...]


King George’s Kitchens at Kew Palace

August 8, 2014 by Bruce Richardson

The Dining Room at Kew Palace welcomed King George III’s family and guests. In February 1789, this also included the King’s doctor, Dr Willis. England had been thrown into turmoil the previous year as the King was declared ‘mad’ after the onset of a mysterious illness, probably porphyria. This is a hereditary blood disorder that [...]


America’s Suffragette Movement began with a Tea Party

June 30, 2014 by Bruce Richardson

While the Boston Tea Party is often the most common story of tea’s role in rebellious acts, the drink found its way into the homes and lives of another group interested in revolution: the American women’s suffrage.
On July 9, 1848, five key members of the American women’s suffrage movement met for tea in Waterloo, [...]


How to Steep Tea

June 11, 2014 by Bruce Richardson

In the finer homes of colonial Boston or London, the procedure for making tea was fairly simple: a servant brought in the “tea things” on a teaboard (tray), the hostess placed a few teaspoons of tea leaves into a teapot, and heated water was added directly from a silver urn resting on a china table [...]