Steampunk in Seattle: The Northwest Tea Festival

Tea is many Steampunks’ beverage of choice and it should come as no surprise that many of us consider ourselves connoisseurs of the ancient drink. And with so many varieties and flavors to choose from, it’s should be of no surprise that there festivals celebrating it. Next month, the Nothwest Tea Festival will take place on October 1 and 2 at the Seattle Center.

The festival is free with a recommended ten dollar donation. That and anything above will get your a porcelain tea cup you can use for all your taste testing of samples throughout the day. Here’s a synopsis of what to expect on this weekend in October, from their About section:

The Festival is a fun and educational event about the multifaceted world of tea.  Our goal is to provide experiences covering all aspects of tea, from the cultural to the historical and the sensory to the scientific.

Bringing together authors, industry experts, buyers, retailers, artists, and educators, we hope you learn something new and expand your enjoyment of this most fascinating of beverages!

You can learn more about the festival at their website. You’re almost certain to leave the event with a new favorite incarnation of tea, so don’t miss out on the opportunity to taste-test teas without having to buy them first and learn about tea brewing from the masters.

Steep.It

Tea is one of the quintessential Steampunk beverages. Any meeting between Steampunks is made infinitely better when they are brought together over well brewed cuppas. Steeping tea properly is an art which many people (myself included) usually abandon in favor of over-steeped but very strong tea.

But should you wish to get the very best out of each cup of tea, there’s a certain amount of time and a particular temperature you should permit your tea to steep before removing the tea bag or leaves.

A simple but very helpful website called Steep.It helps you brew the perfect cup each time by showing you the correct time and temperature by which to create your favorite teas. Readers from outside the US will be glad to see the temperatures for their tea listed in Celsius alongside Fahrenheit, and there’s a considerable list of different types of tea, so you’re sure to get the perfect combination of time and heat for a well steeped cup.

Tea Dueling

Steampunks love a good sporting event. From the North American Beard and Mustache Championships to the Chap Olympiad, we love the opportunity to display our physical prowess and abilities before awed spectators. We are a proud bunch, after all, and despite our attempts at humility and insistence to the contrary, we really do love attention.

Which is probably why, at some point, it was decided that we needed to bring competition into a favorite pastime, enjoying tea.  And thus, Tea Dueling was created.

You can read all the rules on Brass Goggles, but if you can’t be bothered to read what is something of a wall of text, you can see a duel that occurred during the Steampunk NYE 2010/2011 party in Corby below.

Tea and competition!? What more could you ask for? I think I need to start training my biscuit dunking skills so that I too might best my opponents in dueling. You had best watch out!

January is National Tea Month

Even though it’s more than half way through January, it’s better late than never to let you know that January is National Tea Month. There’s no drink that so pleases Steampunk sensibilities and inspires such reverential treatment. Professor Elemental wrote this anthem to our favorite beverage:

Tea has an interesting and quirky history. The Tea Drinker Blog has these interesting facts about tea.

  • Tea is the second most widely consumed beverage in the world after water. Half of the world’s population drinks it either hot or cold.
  • It is the most popular and cheapest beverage, next to water, in the world.
  • Everyday, more than 2 billion men and women drink their favorite beverage, tea.
  • 5 out of 6 North Americans drink tea
  • The average North American consumes one cup of tea per day.
  • Tea’s consumption will continue to increase as health-conscious consumers choose tea for its medicinal benefits.
  • Tea is a rich source of antioxidants and flavonoids which are scientifically proven to aid in the prevention of heart disease and cancer.
  • The antioxidants in two cups of black tea are equivalent to the antioxidants in one glass of red wine, seven glasses of orange juice, or 20 glasses of apple juice.

So this January, stay warm with a nice cuppa and enjoy National Tea Month! Yay!

Tea, though ridiculed by those who are naturally coarse in their nervous sensibilities will always be the favorite beverage of the intellectual.
-Thomas de Quincey

In Praise of Idleness and Tea

Around the globe today, many are celebrating Christmas. It’s an opportunity for many to spend time with loved ones and enjoy that company. For others, it’s just another day.

Regardless of your religious beliefs, it is Saturday. And today, I’d like to encourage my readers to take the day to relax. This film by the Tea Appreciation Society entitled, “In Praise of Idleness and Tea,” was created as a tribute to tea’s ability to slow us down, to encourage us to pause for moments of reflection and introspection.

Sometimes we get caught up in the dizzying whirl of life. We get swept away by to-do lists and demands from work that makes us neglect what we truly care about. This year, I’ve been particularly guilty of putting aside the things and people I care about for demands from things and people who don’t necessarily care about me. It’s a terrible habit, and its hardly a way to live a life.

In the waning days of 2011, I’d like to encourage you, my dear reader, to indulge in some personal idleness with a cup of tea (or other steamy beverage of choice). Now is a great time to consider what adventures you would like to embark on in the approaching new year on this last weekend before 2011.

The Tea Appreciation Society

There’s no beverage quite like tea that so unites Steampunks. I’ve spent many a wonderful meeting sharing tea and discussion with many of my favorite Steampunks. Tea brings us together and encourages sharing and dialogue. It is, in many ways, vital to Steampunk interaction outside of the internet.

Knowing that tomorrow is International Have a Nice Cup of Tea Day, I wanted to bring to your attention one of my favorite tea organizations: the Tea Appreciation Society.

Founded in 2007, the Tea Appreciation Society is a worldwide collective of tea lovers. According to their About Us section, the Society is for people who believe that tea is more that simply a beverage:

The Tea Appreciation Society satisfies our desires to do some good both ethically and environmentally, allowing us to champion philanthropic attitudes to business, and work with various charities.

Our philosophy: As a worldwide collective of individuals we celebrate the love of tea, community, and the creative human spirit.

We are tea drinkers, our passion for celebrating community, art and the creative spirit fuels our desire to make the world a better place to enjoy.

Tea offers us an opportunity for quiet contemplation and shared moments of intimacy with friends, enabling us to reflect, be inspired and create.

That’s why we appreciate the tea.

And I think that’s precisely why many Steampunks appreciate tea as well! If you want more information on the Society’s philosophy, please explore the Tea Appreciation Society’s Manifesto, a beautifully tea stained document detailing the Society’s mission. Make sure to enlarge it fully, else you’ll find it very hard to read.

So today, tomorrow, and any day you wish, reflect on the memories and inspiration a cup of tea has brought you. Here’s to many more.