The Everything Healthy Tea Book

My favorite session at this year’s World Tea Expo was Babette Donaldson’s “How Can You ‘Be More Tea’ to Sell More Tea?  The focus of her talk was about developing a closer relationship with your tea customers.  I was impressed with her depth of tea knowledge and experience.

Her book, titled “The Everything Healthy Tea Book”, is a broad reference for all things related to tea and health.  For example, it describes how tea brings people together and facilitates communication; the health benefits of each type of tea; and how to buy “healthy” tea.  On page 260, she shares a fascinating story (which we heard during the WTE session) about how a fifth-grade class of “problem” students were given tea each day.  Over time this resulted in a significant increase in the students’ ability to pay attention. (Love this story!)

Babette’s other publications include,  a series of books for children called “The Emma Lea Books”; a craft and activity book, “Fun With Tea”; and a single issue magazine,”Start Your Own Family Tea Time”.  You can find her products on Amazon.   Cheers ~  Margo


Tea in a Time of War

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 the commodity that fueled an empire?  

That fuel was tea.
Lord Woolton, Minister of Food, recounted the tumultuous time: “When London was being persistently bombed, I had to tell the tea blenders to remove their stocks to less vulnerable positions – a scheme drawn up by the Tea Buyers’ Association in 1937 at the request of the Food Defense Department.”
30,000 tons of tea had already been sent to a variety of safe warehouses far from London while 40,000 tons remained in the city. The tea auctions in London halted on September 5 and the Ministry of Food became the owners of all tea stocks. The 280 tea wholesalers based in London were allotted leaf in only three grades: high, medium, and low. 
Mincing Lane, the center of London’s tea trade, was bombed on May 11, 1941 and half of the brokers’ offices and records were destroyed. Over 8000 tons of tea were damaged that year. The removal of tea from the danger area proceeded with haste and, by 1942, most of the contents of 30 warehouses on the Thames had been dispersed to 500 locations across the country.

Attempts at rationing took place but somehow there was always tea to be had. The Rationing Division went so far as to dictate that a pound of tea had to serve 260 cups of beverage. They refused to define the size of a cup except that a ‘pot of tea for one’ counted as two cups.  

Tea was the great ‘cheerer-upper’ of the war. Everyone from the Throne downward can attest that civilians and military alike turned instinctively to the solace of the kitchen teapot, mobile canteen urn, or an improvised trench-built billy-can.
The water burners were lit in mobile tea canteens even before the flames of burning buildings were extinguished so that fire brigades and ambulance drivers might have a cup of tea as they completed their horrific tasks. 
Tea Canteens were spotted not only in the bombed out streets of London, but also on the back lines of the war’s battlegrounds. Canteens followed the Allied troops as they crossed France and marched into Germany. Grateful communities from Wisconsin to Ceylon raised funds to sponsor these rolling tea wagons that brought a bit of home comfort to battle-weary soldiers.

The workers aboard these mobile units were most often greeted with “That was a lovely cup of tea.” 

But the British have strong feelings about their national beverage. Novice tea makers were likely to be scolded with “Bring me another cuppa tea like this and I’ll report you to the Council!”  Clean water was hard to come by which prompted some wags to say: “Not so bad. Got a bit of a funny taste, though.” Never mind that these workers were trying to cobble together a proper pot of tea in a war zone! 

There was nothing they could do but keep calm and carry on.
Read more about the history of tea in England and The United States in A Social History of Tea.
Posted 27th April by Bruce Richardson



Courtesy of


It is a day filled with multiple tea infusions and tastings – doesn’t that sound absolutely heavenly? The process of tea tasting is much more than what it sounds. Cup after cup, tea after tea, you’re activating your five senses to create your own palate. After examining the dry and wet leaves and taking in the aroma, you’re tasting the liquid that will hopefully register with you. When tasting a tea, slurping is key. While that may seem impolite, slurping is necessary to experience the full flavour of the tea on all parts of your palette. By slurping, you are cooling the tea and allowing it to swish all over the parts of your tongue because you do not swallow it right away.
Don’t fret if the right words to describe a tea during your tasting doesn’t roll off your tongue (so to speak) right away. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time for the tea. Everyone has a difference experience – that’s what really counts. Think of it as it is, an art. As you refine your palate and practice through more tastings, the right words will come easily. How to taste tea is an entirely different subject on its own. You can learn great points in this article on Serious Eats.
Similar to wine tasting, or even smelling different scents of perfumes, a palate cleanser is sometimes necessary to be able to switch from one item to the other and not cross over the flavours or aromas. To palate cleanse simply means removing residuals in your mouth to enhance your tasting experience. I’ve learned that palate cleansing may not be for everyone though. Some tea tasters do not feel they need to cleanse their palate when moving from tea to tea to sip. However, for myself, I find it easier to distinguish complex flavours and other qualities after neutralizing my taste buds. Perhaps with a few more tastings under my belt, this may change. But for now, cleansing my palette is a simple act and here are a few of my favourite items to help with the process between teas.
1. Pumpkin Seeds

2. Unsalted Crackers

3. Unsalted Pretzels

4. Almonds
These items are quite effective because neither have strong competing flavours. Their neutral flavour elements reset the palate perfectly when I’m jumping between teas and they don’t usually leave a lingering taste that mixes in with a tea. I also enjoy the convenience of being able to just throw them into my pocket or bag and carry around through tastings as they are typically in small packaging.

What I have used to cleanse my palate are definitely not the only options out there. In fact, the idea for this blog post first came from hearing about the use of bananas as a palate cleanser. It is said a banana’s mellow flavour can cancel out any lingering aftertaste from another tea. I always believe that it’s best to learn more about the subject of the Leaf through other tea enthusiasts. This one option had me curious and want to learn more about what others could possibly be using as a palate cleanser if they are at all.

Here’s what a few Tea Sommeliers had to say when asked if they cleanse their palates:
“Half of the time, I will taste back to back making it easier to determine if one tea is sweeter, brisker, light or bold, etc. then the other. When I do need to cleanse my palate completely I take a page from sushi chefs and chew on a very tiny piece of ginger for a few seconds. I find the spicy almost tangy taste counter balances the tea and refreshes the palate very quickly without dulling it like I find carbs can do.” – Heather Mulholland, Tea Sommelier Student and Tea Writer at Tea with Me Blog
“David and I have done multiple tea tastings across Asia and North America and have seldom seen any tea blenders or tea sommeliers cleanse their palates between sips. In our experience, the teas are arranged from light to dark (ie. white tea, yellow tea, green tea, oolong tea, black tea and finally pu’er tea) during formal cupping sessions. The tea is slurped quickly to create an even spray throughout the mouth while allowing the tea to mix with oxygen. This helps brings the flavours of the tea to life.” – Sarah Wilcox, Certified Tea Sommelier and Co-Founder of Genuine Tea
“Apple slices, a piece of banana, or a lightly salted cracker or piece of hard white bread (like a baguette). Make sure there’s nothing too salty or sweet, just something to reset your palate. A little piece of ginger can also work well. Sometimes I sniff coffee beans like they do in perfume stores. I might also just like an excuse to sniff coffee.” – Mel Hattie, Tea Sommelier and Tea Writer at Mel Had Tea
In the end, it is most important to not overthink what you use to cleanse your palate, if you even do. As you may have noticed, results vary between individuals, and this entire experience is something you are in charge of. Finding what is right for you is part of the process to enjoy the beverage. If a tea makes you feel good, you’re on the right track.