Tea. To many it still conjures images of ladies in floral dresses and big hats or zen masters pondering the mysteries of the universe as in the case of Thor: Ragnarok. When Doctor Strange offers Thor tea he responds:
Thor: I don’t drink tea
Then a huge magically refilling beer glass appears in Thor’s hand because everyone clearly knows that beer is a more appropriate drink for a man who calls himself the God of Thunder. Ahem. (great fun film, by the way) Now, I love beer. I have nothing against it, but ‘back in the day’ tea had a dark, criminal underbelly. Yes, the nobility and the wealthy drank it first, but as with anything perceived as exclusive everyone started to want it. So demand gave rise to everything from substandard knockoffs to black market trade.
Let’s look back to the 18th century. Britain became ravenous for tea more than any other western country of size.
“Recorded imports into Britain rose from 13,082 lbs. in 1699 to 1,241,629 lbs. in 1721. By 1750 the total was 4,727,992 lbs.” 1
But that is only the legal recorded amounts. The cost of tea was too much for most households to afford, especially with the duties imposed by the government and the East India Company monopoly on the tea trade. This unmet demand resulted in violent, prolific, smuggling. Some gangs that engaged in the tea smuggling trade went so far as torturing and killing informants and customs workers who tried to bring them down.
Yeesh. It’s like that spoof of “Breaking Bad” that some of the cast of “Downton Abbey” did on Colbert called “Breaking Abbey” where tea replaced meth. It is hilarious, but when you realize how like the drug trade parts of tea history are it is…slightly less hilarious. If I saw a biker gang drink tea now I would not think it strange (Sons of Anarch-tea? Yeah, that’s an image. )
The general public wanted tea but were against the cost of the legal version of it so millions were complicit in the smuggling trade 2. The cheaper tea was often not much real tea at all. To keep the cost down it was often cut with anything from leaves of other plants, used tea leaves purchased from servants and even sheep’s dung 3.
Even dangerous dyes were used, like copper dyes in inferior green tea, which may have added to the British switch from green tea to more black tea. A fine was imposed for such adulterations but it was difficult to impose on tea sold under the radar. It kind of makes that Versace knockoff you got from a NYC street vendor seem mild by comparison. Unless you intend to eat it, of course. I suggest you don’t. You don’t know where that thing has been.
In 1747 there was a large drop in the tax on tea which caused legal imports to Britain to roughly triple and smuggling to shrink. But by the 1770s smuggling swelled with large armed ships with large crews running the game. During this time historians estimate that 4-7.5 million lbs. of tea was smuggled in exceeding the recorded 4-5 million legal lbs 4.
Americans in the colonies were digging tea too and demand was increasing. As they were still under British rule the tea came through Britain for the first half of the 18th century. This tea came with heavy cost as the import duties paid in Britain were passed on to the cost in America. Because of this it is estimated that ¾ of all the tea imported to the colonies in 1760 was smuggled in 5.
Then it got even more interesting. In 1767 there was a law passed that let the import duty on tea sent to America to be repaid which slowed smuggling for a time 6. Then in 1773 the East India Company was allowed to export straight to the colonies and would include a threepenny tax per lb.
As Britain had already taxed American newspapers, bills and legal docs prior and then initiated taxes on lead, paint, paper, glass and now tea 7 it is fair to say America was getting tetchy. It was the Tea Act of 1773 that began the rumblings which would lead to the infamous Boston Tea Party. It was felt that Britain was attempting to secure greater and greater power over American interests.
Customs officers had to be guarded by British troops. Apparently a man died and protests erupted when troops fired into a mob in Boston in 17708 (sound familiar?). The people began to organize preventing ships from docking and attacking tea warehouses. It was like tea had become a symbol of the establishment that the angry public wanted to bring down.
In the book there is an interesting log entry from the journal of a mate named Alexander Hodgdon who served on the ship the Dartmouth which arrived in Boston:
“Between six and seven o’clock this evening came down to the wharf a body of about one thousand people. Among them were a number dressed and whooping like Indians. They came on board the ship, and after warning myself and the Customs-House Officer to get out of the way, they unlaid the hatches and went down into the hold, where there were eighty whole and thirty-four half chests of tea, which they hoisted on deck, cut the chests to pieces, and hove the tea all overboard, where it was damaged and lost.” 9
This was the Boston Tea Party, which resulted in the destruction of all tea on three ships that had arrived in Boston. The tea that had arrived in Charleston was left to rot and tea that had been sent to Philly and NYC was sent back to London. It was Boston that took the biscuit, though, sending a strong message to Britain who responded with closing Boston harbor and attempts to exert control that resulted in the war that led to American independence. No wonder coffee gained a foothold here. Tea was somewhat demonized for a time as a traitor’s drink.
Quite a ride for a beverage sipped in some of the West’s most opulent hotels and enjoyed around the table of many a common home today.
Tea - there is a world of history in your cup.
The source for this post is an interesting book written by a man who began his work in the tea trade at the age of 21 in 1960. The book is: Tea: Addiction, Exploitation and Empire, by Roy Moxham. This post touches on just a piece of what the book covers. If you are interested in tea history I recommend it. Here are the pages I drew from:
Moxham, Roy (2003) Tea: Addiction, Exploitation and Empire, New York, Carroll & Graf
1 pg 24, 2 pg 25, 3 pg 29, 4 pg 26-27, 5 pg 46, 6 pg 46, 7 pg 47, 8 pg 47, 9 pg 49
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Phil Harrington part 1 – Tea Memories and From Medicine to Music on TeaDeviant.com
Tea Deviant: So we are here with Phil Harrington who is the creator of the Youbloom festival that started in Dublin and then also has a LA component. You do two festivals a year?
Phil Harrington: Yes
TD: ...and that’s been going since?
TD: Bob Geldof was originally involved when it was starting in Dublin to support it as well. You’ve had numerous speakers of note from the music industry and probably hundreds upon hundreds of bands by this point.
TD: Very cool. We’re having some tea of course. I brought an Assam for you. You like your tea without milk?
PH: That’s right. Since I was about 10 I decided to give up milk for some reason.
TD: Do you remember the first time you had tea, or has it just sort of always been a part of your family?
PH: I think probably when I was like 7 or 8 or something like that, you know. It is kind of like a big boy moment when you got to drink tea, yeah.
TD: Do you have any remembrances of tea, like how your mom served it or anything like that?
PH: Oh yes I do indeed. I remember that my grandmother who was in Cork and would come and visit. She would, you know, have a cup of tea brought to her in bed and she would send the child back down with the tea with the explanation that it was like piss and she wanted a real cup of tea. (laughs)
TD: (laughs) It was too weak?
PH: Yeah, it was too weak. And in Ireland everything is punctuated with when you have a cuppa. I would come home in the afternoons and my mom would be there with one or more of her neighbor friends, you know, sitting around the table. They’re all drinking tea and chatting and so on, before like coffee became a thing.
From Medicine to Music:
TD: If I am not mistaken you started in medicine
PH: That’s right.
TD: From medicine to music and music as medicine?
PH: That’s right. I sang and I came from a musical family. My parent’s were great singers. My dad was a great piano player. So there was a lot of music around when I was a kid. When I was in medical school I was the guy in the pub who on a Friday or Saturday night would love to get everybody singing. It wasn’t so much that I was performing as much as I got it going singing you know, folk songs. I loved as well the drama of having a few pints under the stools, closing time coming and the guards at the door banging at the door because it was closing time, and the Publican going crazy about losing his license, and where we would continue to sing. It was this whole kind of drama of youth that would go on. The Publican would get quite upset, but once we were out I mean we were all friends again.
After I qualified as a doctor I found that working in the regular medical system really didn’t suit me. I was just a more creative kind of person.
TD: The rigidity?
PH: Rigidity, yeah. I jumped up out of bed at five o’clock in the morning with maybe two months to go to where I got my papers and it was just really clear. You have to go off out your own road. So I got my papers and I stayed practicing for year as a regular doctor. I had worked through the summers to put myself through medical school as a kid. My dad had died when I was 18. I carried on being in business. At the same time I stumbled into alternative medicines. So I immersed myself into the medicines and I got the idea to do a TV series on alternative medicines. I came to London, and to LA and to San Francisco to interview the leading people whose books I’d read. That was like doing a thesis. Out of that really came a philosophy. Up till then it was difficult to go from western medicine to the other medicines, but after I’d gone through that process I came into a whole new paradigm in myself and with people.
A workshop that I was on in the middle of all that with Paul Rebillot called Transformation Ritual, he did work based on the work of Joseph Campbell. That workshop helped you to look at who you were and your past, what you wanted to let go of and what you wanted to bring into your life. Then you created your own ritual to symbolize that. In that ritual I went into hyperventilating then I went into screaming.
TD: As a release?
PH: It was completely spontaneous. There was nothing planned about it. I had been at these workshops before where I heard people screaming and I was like “Oh my god, let’s get out of here now.” Now here was I the guy screaming. The stuff I saw… I saw my parents and so on in front of me saying “Do this. Do that.” The scream was basically “Let me speak! Listen to me!” But in that moment as well I saw myself that I was somebody who needed to be singing to be well. So I went on a journey into sound healing and I developed a music therapy called Voce, which is the Italian and Portuguese word for voice, because it was like I was getting the voice out of people. I still do that to this day. At the same time on the medical work I was coming to a philosophy. I had this insight that it’s a wonderful thing and I want to be involved in helping people to get better but I was also aware of all the people who want to try to live the creative life.
TD: To be whole. Like you had found that you needed to sing to be whole you recognized in others that need?
PH: Yeah. I saw how many people who wanted to do that. Those people in the context of the US then I don’t think it was referred to as a term, but maybe 15 years ago or something like that they came up with the term Cultural Creatives…who are people who are some kind of artist in the way in which they approach their lives. I was really attracted to the idea of more and more people being able to have that life …more singing and dancing and less fighting. That’s where the spark of Youbloom came from.
The original idea behind Youbloom was if you were to bring the same sophistication to all these independent artists and Cultural Creatives as micro businesses that there is in larger business, big corporations and so on, what potential could you bring out in terms of that becoming viable? If you take say the music business: 75% of all the revenues go to the superstars which is like in the hundreds, then 20% goes to like three quarters of a million bands that gig all the time and the last 5% goes to like 10 million [bands]. The inequity is huge. The original idea behind Youbloom was to try to figure out ways in which the cohesion between the little guys would become much better.
TD: Supporting the indie model.
PH: Supporting the indie model, the independent, yeah.
TD: Which has become huge. The industry has changed so much over time with the advent of things like Youtube, streaming sites…
PH: That’s right.
TD: So finding a way to help emerging artists to have their own business, if necessary you mean, outside of the old-fashioned record industry model?
PH: Yeah. The vision was more and more people being able to be creative and viable. Then the original mission idea was what if everyone was in a data cooperative where they shared all the data they had about themselves and their fans? What are all the opportunities you could find out of that?
When I started Youbloom this was before the crowd funding thing happened. I wrote out the names of all the people I knew who shared that vision. It was over a hundred people and I gave them all shares in the company. One of those people was Bob Geldof. In the business I had in Ireland I got introduced to Bob through a shred accountant. He was an investor in that business and we became friends through that. When I was on that journey of my own discovery he was supportive of that. He was very into the whole philosophy of Youbloom.
In Part 2 we talk about the start of Youbloom, where it is now and plans for the future. For more on Youbloom annual festivals and Youbloom Connect visit www.youbloom.com . Youbloom Dublin is currently accepting band submissions until February 19th, 2018 http://www.youbloom.com/youbloomdublin-2018/
-by Cassandra Vincent
This is a concert reflection and fan piece. If you love Fall Out Boy or just love the love of music grab a cuppa and share the experience with me - Cassandra
Ok, so this week alternative (or as some still say pop punk ) music artist Fall Out Boy releases the long awaited MAN I A (or is it MANIA with no spaces?) album and I thought back on their concert at The Forum this past November. It was a shiny moment of happy that stands out in the year. The Forum was buzzing with a positive and youthful energy from kids to adult music fans with kids in anticipation of the FOB’s LA stop on the North American stretch of the MANIA (or, pre-MANIA) tour.
Firstly, I love and respect this band for many reasons:
It is very cool to see a frontman like Patrick Stump with a stadium sized voice capable of everything from a croon to a float to a roar while playing guitar and piano and rocking it in a cardigan and sneakers. And the more colorful Pete Wentz who so naturally takes over the usual frontman duties of talking to and going out into the audience connecting them to the spirit of the music. Andy covered in tats, pounding the drums with a fierceness that is in beautiful contrast to his soft-spoken nature. Joe is a clear focused, fun guitarist and presence that roots us in rock without any pretention or cliché. A damn fine band I think.
Now the show.
Note: Black Bear and Jaden Smith supported them on this tour. I am sorry to have missed these guys due to time constraints tho.
They opened with the powerful "Phoenix" and sounded tight with Patrick in good form to take on his marathon of singing Fall Out Boy songs all night. He certainly doesn’t take it easy on himself. As a singer I respect that. I do wonder if an oxygen tank is standing by though. The man barely has time to breathe.
Pete addressed the audience asking us to get in the car with them for the next 90 minutes. We did. Singing along to great tunes from their wild and fun career to embracing the newest tunes off the MANIA album – to be released January 19, 2018. One of these new songs, “Young and Menace”, has a tricky chorus in the recorded version that posed a challenge to do live. I had heard the band do a full version on the Tonight Show with Fallon with both Patrick and a digital voice doing the chorus, which because of the overlapping lines is a rough job for a singer. He did a great job, but if FOB shows are a marathon for Patrick this song is like a sprint relay with no one for him to pass the baton to. Exhausting. At the Forum the band took a different approach – a brilliant piano only version allowing Patrick to stretch tempo and show off his soul voice. Sorted!
They also played my favorite of the new releases, “The Last of the Real Ones”, which Pete described as being about finding someone whose glitches match your own. For me the song was a sigh of relief in finding someone that makes you feel home, or at least less alone. I am so glad that they followed their guts and delayed the album release (which was originally set for this past September) because according to a tweet by Pete this song was created a week after the album was delayed. Perhaps if it weren’t delayed we would have been denied this exciting song.
Other songs from MANIA they performed include “Wilson (Expensive Mistakes)” – which Pete just introduced as “Expensive Mistakes” – with the great line “I’ll stop wearing black when they make a darker color”. This line is apparently a nod to the Addams Family film (and a statement maybe the goths and emos can agree on? Maybe? No? oh well…). Pete was mouthing the words while Patrick was singing. In a way they do sing together. They also did “Hold Me Tight or Don’t” with images on the screens reflecting the Day of the Dead images of the music video. "Expensive Mistakes", "Dance, Dance" and "Thnks Fr th Mmrs" were played with the band atop rising platforms at the opposite end of the arena from the stage giving those fans furthest away a shot to see the band a bit closer. They may be hugely famous and hugely successful but it feels that part of them is still that band in a basement with their audience inches (if that) from their faces. They have done many things to bridge the gap created by fame and this is one of those gestures.
Andy gave a great drum solo while the rest of the band was being wheeled under the stage to meet him. Joe joined him on his platform with Patrick and Pete on another raised even higher. With no railings around these platforms I can’t blame them for being tethered to them like rock climbers on belay. Who wants to try to give a great performance while sweating and thinking “Oh shit I hope I don’t fall off this thing!”
The visuals were bright and bold on the main stage screen and surrounding the rising platforms. I was mainly interested in just seeing the band do their thing, but if they want to fill an arena with flashy images, go for it! One place where it was particularly funny was in “I Don’t Care” when the screens flashed images from films, gaming and everyday people flipping the bird in various ways.
The Monsters (or Llamas as most are calling them) from the various MANIA videos and red carpets made an appearance. They first showed up on screen doing a kind of Statler & Waldorf (Muppets) snarky critique of the show, and then showed up on stage with T-shirt cannons. Hey, those costumes must have been expensive. They are so memorable and entertaining it makes sense to use them as often as possible. With the new URL llamania.com could it mean we will see even more from these…whatever they are?
Though my friends and I did miss “Young Volcanoes” (we just have a soft spot for that song) the Save Rock and Roll album was well represented including the opener “The Phoenix” and “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light ‘Em Up)” in the encore. They also did “Save Rock and Roll” and it is fun to hear Patrick singing Elton John’s lines. He got range!
In traditional fashion the last song of the encore was “Saturday”. I could feel the collective mix of joy & sadness – joy for the following of a familiar, loved tradition and sadness for a fun night with some of our favorite musicians coming to an end. As the confetti and T-shirt parachutes rained down I felt happier for having been there for those 2 hours. That’s the magic of a great band. Thanks guys.
The awesome people at setlist.fm assembled the set list for this date and you can view it here
Remember MANIA drops this week! 1-19-2018 https://falloutboy.com/
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