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

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 [...]


18th Century Teaspoon Etiquette

May 15, 2014 by Bruce Richardson

Teaspoons played a very important part in the etiquette of tea drinking. The Prince de Broglie recorded how he was taught the complexities of etiquette while on a visit to England in 1782:
“I partook of most excellent tea and I should be even now still drinking it, I believe, if the Ambassador had not charitably [...]


Tea and Liquor

May 4, 2014 by Bruce Richardson

With prices for tea remaining high throughout the early 18th century and the passion for it growing, poets and essayists summed up popular attitudes of the day. Many praised tea, recommending it for health reasons, as London tea merchant Thomas Garway had done a hundred years before. Some pointed out its benefits as an alternative [...]


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 [...]