Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Tea Time at the Archives

Not too long ago I volunteered at the local archives. I moved items from moldy boxes, to nice, fresh boxes. It was quite fun though that I think is a matter of personal preference.
Right next door was the local museum, and our Archivist also acted as the museum curator. For five blissful months I felt submerged in both the museum and archives daily life, and I loved the Archivist/Museum Curator to pieces!

He was the nicest gentleman I ever did meet, and he also loved tea as much as I (possibly more, since he did come straight from Britain.) Because he was in charge, and because he was British and loved tea, the Archives was a bit unique: there was tea time at 3:00 pm sharp every day.

The first day I volunteered and found out about this tea schedule, I was ecstatic. Mandatory tea? My goodness, that is the perfect workplace. It didn't cut into the day, as their union stated there needed to be two 15 minute breaks in afternoon and morning, or at the manager's discretion. So two 15 minutes put together at 3:00 meant everyone sat down for a half hour tea break. Everyone mostly showed up for tea, so there was a large relaxed gathering that typically wouldn't have happened. The camaraderie and the closeness between staff is still the best example I have seen or been privileged to partake in. It leads me to believe that all workplaces should have designated tea breaks, and in future careers I might just insist on it (as long as it doesn't get me fired.) I learned some things about tea there, mostly from the Archivist. Heat your teapot with hot tap water, before you put the boiled kettle water in.
That way the cold clay/porcelain doesn't suck the heat out of the boiled water, and your tea will remain hot longer. The first time I tried to help and put boiled water into the pot without warming it up first, I got an earful! I also learned that some people like to steep their tea so dark, it could be taken for coffee at a quick glance. I loved this place, and I was sad to end my volunteering to go back to library school.

Now I was recently in the area at the local tea house “The China Cup Tea Company” (which I personally quite recommend) and I was surprised and delighted to see a unique blend on the shelves: The Surrey Museum Heritage blend.
Now each time someone buys a bag of this tea, three dollars are donated to the Museum. Of course I knew I had to buy a bag, I would have bought the tea even if it tasted like dishwater. But it doesn't, it certainly doesn't!

The area the Archives is in is Cloverdale, and each year Cloverdale does a big festival with blueberries. Blueberry pie, pancakes, milkshakes, and more. So it makes sense for the China Cup to have blueberries in this tea. Now I have tried it and can't taste them. In fact, I can't taste any single ingredient other than the black tea base. It all mixes so well together, it makes up another flavour entirely: delicious.
This is a perfect afternoon tea, not too fruity, or dessert-like. Add milk or cream, sugar or honey. Or let is steep until it looks like coffee. It is a strong, wake up and get back to work tea. You can have this at breakfast, at tea time and with dessert. It is versatile, and did I mention delicious? This tea, I would guess, would also be the perfect tea to serve at the afternoon mandatory tea in the Archives.

Located at: The China Cup tea company, as far as I can tell. But give them a ring and they might be willing to ship some tea to a tea lover out there!


  1. ohhh man, I must try some of this stuff!!

  2. Do they drink this at the archives? If not, they should.

    I need to find a tea that tastes like blueberry pancakes!

  3. Thanks for providing such useful information to us.