Tea: It’s Not Just for Drinking

Our British father was a tea-drinker, so as young girls we wanted to follow suit. My first few cups were mostly milk and sugar, but I grew to love the brew and look forward to a cup daily. When I traveled to Hawaii years ago, my friend Paige teased that I was the only one she knew that wanted to drink hot tea in the tropics.  It grows on you!

Growing Tea

The tea-plant is an evergreen tree which grows in tropical or sub-tropical regions. A high level of humidity, lots of sunshine and plenty of rain make the ideal planting conditions. It grows easily at altitude (Darjeeling teas are grown in the Himalayan mountains). Tea plants are cultivated in tea-gardens which often give their names to certain growths of tea.

In the wild, the tea plant can reach 10 – 15 meters tall, but to make it easier to harvest its leaves, it is pruned to a height of about 1.10 meters from the ground. It has a lifespan of around forty years.

The tea leaves are plucked three times a year and each harvest period imparts a distinctive flavour to the tea. In the Himalayas, the first harvest takes place from mid-March to mid-April and produces teas with a mild, vegetal taste (this is the “First Flush”) and rare and aromatic qualities.

The second or middle harvest takes place between mid-April and mid-May and produces teas with a more fruity and perfumed flavour.

The last period for tea-picking is between mid-May and mid-July, for the stronger and less delicate growths. Source: Kusmi Tea

Tea Dye

When I worked in the costume shop at San Jose State, we used tea as a light stain on white shirts. True white is blinding on stage when hit with hot lights. The tea took the edge off the brightness. I’m employing this same technique to age a few pieces for my sister’s Halloween costume. She’s dressing up as the animated character Corpse Bride from the Tim Burton movie. We’ve pulled together pieces from thrift shops and items on hand along with a floral head wreath and bouquet from my garden.

Tea Rinse

Costume Pieces in a Rinse of Tea

Mom-isms: Tea Fixes Everything

Growing up, our Mom’s solution for most things was the pragmatic, “Have an aspirin and a cup of tea and you’ll feel better.”  That still makes me smile. Mom died in 2008 but today is our shared birthday.  Mom hated a fuss, so in her honor a simple “happy birthday!” is what made her happy.

Mom's Halloween Sketch

Mom’s Halloween Sketch

Halloween Countdown

corpse bride pumpkin

Corpse Bride Bouquet and Headpiece

23 thoughts on “Tea: It’s Not Just for Drinking

  1. I see you’re moving right along with my corpse bride costume pieces. ;0)I’m going to Kim’s to “practice/design makeup ideas” (hopefully) this Sunday. I can’t wait to see the finished product. This has been a fun process, don’t you think?


    • Sharon, it’s been a lot of fun. As I suspected, the veil didn’t take much color, but the other two pieces did. I also outlined the edges with a purple fabric pen. It really helped give it some dimension.

      You’re going to look so cute!


  2. Happy Birthday dear Alys!! I’m a Libran too and also love tea (especially with a slice of birthday cake).
    I was wondering how the costume was coming along… I can’t wait to see the finished article.


  3. Before the Fashion Mister and I got married I found a very long, beautiful, vintage lace veil on ebay for $60. Trouble was, it was white and my dress was a sort of champagne colour. My answer…tea staining! It turned out lovely and the colour was a perfect match for my dress.
    It pays to be crafty!


  4. What a lot of birthday girls visiting today, Cheers everyone. Your family home must have been pretty chaotic at this time of year…You, your mom and then Dad all having a birthday, good fun. I see your mom, like you, was also artistic, talented bunch you Milners. Sharon’s going to look so cute. Goulish but girlie.


  5. I’m a day late and a dollar short. Happy belated birthday! Love fall, winter and spring so I can have lots of hot tea. My daughter is a tea connoisseur. It has to be steeped at the perfect temp for the correct amount of time. Tea in a pretty cup will make anything better I love tea dying whites. Great information. Thanks for sharing.


    • I agree on the temperature being just so. I’m not a fan of microwaved tea. I’ll warm mine up if it gets cold but for starters, I needs to be super hot. Pretty cups can’t hurt either!
      Thanks for reading and sharing, M.


  6. Pingback: Corpse Bride Costume Update | gardeningnirvana

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