Author: Robert Godden

Certified Tea Nutter. Blender. Author of "The Infusiast" and Tea "Stories"



As a user of Empire Avenue, one has to occasionally put weird codes into blogs to keep them happy. This is one such occasion.

Beast of Brewdom is an occasional blog where one of us has something to say that is just outside the loose bounds of good taste even for our own blogs.

But in a week, two beasts will meet in Las Vegas.

The world survived the last time that happened. Will it make it through this one?

Stay tuned.

Stupid is as Government does.

I have accidentally come across a plan to grow green tea in Western Australia. There’s a paper on in, presumably done by an agricultural scientist.

This particular scientist could not find this own backside with both hands.

Here’s the first sentence:

The tea plant belongs to the Theaceae family and is closely related to the ornamental species ofCamellia (japonicareticulata and sasanqua). The leaves are evergreen, dark glossy green and the white flowers are of small to medium size. The plant is a shrub or a small tree in its natural state, but in commercial gardens it is kept at about one metre high by periodic harvesting. Tea is processed from the immature shoots.

What’s interesting about that? Well for starters, it doesn’t have any factual errors. That really makes it stand out in this report.

Next up we have:

Tea is one of the most important beverages in the World. There are two main types of tea. World production of green tea (Camellia sinensis sinensis) is about 500,000 tonnes and black tea (Camellia sinensis assamica) is about 1,600,000 tonnes.

As we say in Australia, “What. The. Farrrrrrrrrqqqqq”

It’s over 200 years since we figured this one out, guys. It’s the same plant, you moron.

And then:

Green tea is smaller and slower growing and has more distinct serrations on the edges of the leaves than black tea. Green tea has only three to four flushes of active shoot growth per year, whereas black tea is grown in warmer climates and flushes for a longer period. Green tea has more cold tolerance than black tea and requires a dormant period to produce the important first flush in mid to late spring.

Good Lord.

We then have this bit, which starts with a fact, and then, well:

There is also a difference in processing. Green tea is steamed to prevent fermentation and then dried. It therefore results in a drink that is yellow to green and milk and sugar are not added. Black tea is

fermented and dried, thereby producing a brown drink. It is more bitter than green tea, due to higher levels of tannins and flavanols and many people need to add flavourings to make it palatable.

Oh , dear. I wonder how this introduction will end.

Green tea originated from south-western China and has been used as a beverage and medicine in China since 2700 BC. Britain imported Green tea from China for over 200 years. About 1830 AD, the British discovered native black tea plants in their colony in India, where cheap labour allowed large scale plantations. Its proximity to Europe by sea, also made it cheaper to produce than buying green tea from China. The British therefore changed from drinking green tea to black tea for these reasons. They have since controlled the world marketing of black tea.

I can say no more. If a high school student handed this up as a one page project it would get 2/10, mainly for having no spelling errors and ruling neat lines.

It is RANK incompetence, and if I were a Western Australian, i would demand that the entire government resign, and join their previous colleagues in prison.

Except that this paper was produced in 2001, and the government there has changed about 6 times since anyway.


Keeping abreast of tea

Beasts of Brewdom is a blog for MEN, and what do things aimed at men have one them?

Breasts, that’s what.

Advertisers and marketers would have you believe that men like to admire breasts so much that we can’t live without them plastered across our sites.

Of course, there are certain stipulations:

  • They must be female – Vladimir Putin may wish to flash his man-lumps for the cameras but no-one here is interested. 
  • They must not be overly clad- 4 layers of fabric and it might as well be a landscape painting.
  • They must be accompanied by an object that men can pretend to be looking at, like a sports car.

It is rumoured that the only reason rack and pinion steering  was invented was to cover an engineer who said “look at that rack” at an auto show within earshot of his wife.

So, it behoves us to jump on the breastwagon.

Where to start with tea and breasts?

Firstly, we’re not going to go down the photographic route. Adding a photo would just be too predictable. We use the power of words. And if that fails, we’ll put a picture at the end.

So, let’s start with toucha.

These little buggers have an interesting shape. According to legend, this shape originate when female tea pickers concealed stolen tea leaves inside their garments. Specifically, about their nipples.

Clearly, a silly story. And yet, when you look at the picture on the right…:tuocha

Anyway, us Beasts clearly don’t believe such an apocryphal tale. Here’s our roving reporter Lazy Literatus with a far more truthful tale:

When one thinks of Bi Luo Chun, the first thing that comes to mind is – well – green tea. More to the point, green tea leaves that are sorta shaped like snail shells. 

Well, Bi Luo Chun (or “Green Snail Spring”) wasn’t always the moniker these twisty little leaves possessed.

Once upon a time, in a dynasty far, far…er…long ago, Bi Luo Chun was known as “Xia Sha Ren Xiang”, which literally translates to “scary fragrance”. As the legend goes, a female tea picker had no more…uh…space in which to hold tea leaves, at least not in the basket she was supplied. In a moment of sheer genius, she opted for the best place ever! To store the remaining leaves. In her bosom.

Those were the luckiest tea leaves that ever existed.

Her body heat had a rather interesting effect on said leaves, beyond the apparent awesomeness of boob-cradling. The fragrance from her natural…um…ampleness transferred onto the tea leaves. Thus resulting in the “scary fragrance” for which the namesake derives.

The Kangxi emperor – being a complete and utter buzzkill – thought the name was too inappropriate. So, he had it officially changed to “Bi Luo Chun” in honor of the leaf’s given shape after processing. Frankly, the Kangxi emperor can “Bi Luo” me. The original name rolls off the tongue far better than the edit. Like actual boobs.

Although, that does make me wonder? What is so scary about boob fragrance? Is it the apparent mind control powers the aroma possesses? Egad…wait. Does that mean that my love of Bi Luo Chun and all its variances is a lie – a conspiratorial creation by the mammary illuminati?! I can never look at those snail-shaped leaves the same way again!

Ah, screw it. Boobs are awesome. And so is Bi Luo Chun. 

Thanks Geoff

And now, a fitting picture:


A thoughtful, considered post…

…will no doubt turn up on The Devotea’s Tea Spouts in a day or so, but for now, consider this:

Once again, two Beasts of Brewdom will occupy the same room. Yes, The Devotea and The Lazy Literatus , in Las Vegas, this June.

Isn’t that just the best news?

Can Vegas cope?

Can America Cope?

Can The Universe Cope?

And mostly, can Michael J. Coffey cope? The poor bastard has drawn the job of “moderator”.

I tell you, Mikey, BEASTS OF BREWDOM are MODERATED by NO-ONE!. Not even a LAPSANG SOUCHONG-FUELLED CHUCK NORRIS could moderate a BEAST in full flight.

The End Of The World As We Brew It…(updated)

With all that Mayan Calendar new age hippy stone cold bonkers twaddle we’ve had to put up with in the last few days, we got to thinking:

What do the Beasts of Brewdom drink when the world is ending?

And here’s the answers


I made myself about a gallon of Temi Estate Sikkim in an enormous mug, because the nothing bad can ever happen during a cup of that tea.

Indeed, I may have saved the planet.


“So, there was no Mayan apocalypse, no 5th age, not even ancient celestial hug of reassurance for the lot of you who thought the world would really end. Honestly, a part of me wanted to see it…just so I could give the comet/fire-mountain/asteroid/Galactus a staring contest. What would I wear during said staring contest? Pajamas. Men don’t dress up for the end of days. In my cup? Lapsang Souchong. Because if I’m going to go out in fire, I might as well be drinking fire.”


 … when asked to comment, muttered “tea at the end of the world, That would be coffee” and made no further legible comment, though the muttering continued.

Obviously, the Beasts of Brewdom have scant regard for this sort of thing. After all, hippies are all about drinking chamomile decoctions and pretending to read Jack Kerouac, so it’s hardly surprising.


Lahikmajoe drank coffee for the end of the world. It was not tea and he was ok with that.

He still likes drinking tea a great deal, though. Hopefully you’ll see much more of him here in 2013.

Of Mice and Ken

I’ve met some friendly, furry creatures on my trip to London.

There was a vole, quite a few mice, a large rat seen at quite a distance; and squirrels.

I’ve quite fallen in love with squirrels. They bound up, begging for food. I have taken to carrying peanuts. They are less afraid of Lady Devotea than I, but they will with some coaxing place a paw on my finger and ease a peanut gently from my grasp.

And then, larger, less furry but just as inclined to come bounding up with paws outstretched is Ken, or @lahikmajoe, if you prefer.  A fellow beast of Brewdom.

Ken managed to get to London for a few days and we decided to brunch.

Ken of course, decided to promote our meeting as the event of the year. I of course, was much more reserved.

That first meeting was chaotic. Ken and his friend Elaine occupied a table in the corner of J+A cafe, and within seconds of our meeting he had presented me with a copy of “The Sun”, knowing what a ‘fan’ of my hometown hero Rupert Murdoch I am. I found out much later it actually belonged to the cafe.

We had some Irish Breakfast and some Assam. We had some of the legendary soda bread, as mentioned in my highly complimentary review a few days ago.  Unfortunately, this time around, concepts like knives and butter did not seem to register. In fact, the service was a real let down.

The meeting was a lovely manic hour and a half of sheer nonsense. The sort of nonsense Ken & I spout on line, but with added reality. Unlike the Simpsons, I think we are funnier in 3D.

I had initially thought we would share this meeting via video – it had been dubbed “TeaCon” – but a day before it, it was pointed out to me that the timing did not suit our US friends. So, the good news was, I had already arranged a tea meetup for the next day at Maison Bertaux.

This is a legendary patisserie in Soho. It has been around since 1879 or thereabouts.

I emailed them to organise this from Australia months ago, then from London. I also tweeted a lot and included them.

I’ll review the actual tea and cakes in my own space, but the meeting up was chaotic. It comprised tea traders myself, Ken, Myrtle Takes Tea and Vsopfables , wellknown twitterati @_amusebouche_ and @vicdarkwood, plus three friends of Ken’s. We were virtually invited to leave after masses of tea.

A highlight was Ken getting out his wonderful old ukelele and performing. If they had wi-fi I could have shared it.

So, what’s he like, I hear you ask?

Ken is effervescent. He has a manic energy that is caused by his personality being too big for his frame. He is generous and warm. He is at least as sane as I am.

I had been invited quite late in the piece to join in a hookup with our friends from around the globe on Sunday but sadly, I had plans and those plans were not in my own hands, it was a mystery day out. So I was unable to make a third meeting with Ken.

With only a couple of days left and so much to do, I found myself on a train to some of the older parts of London on a family history trail whilst Ken was visiting the London review Bookshop, which would have also been a great opportunity.

But that is what happens in London. You get to do half what you planned and a bunch of stuff you didn’t.

At the end of the day we tried each other’s hats on, I provided some Lord Petersham and the phrase “you can’t always expect goats” was proven by an absence of Capra aegagrus hircus .

There was a lot of tea, there was a lot of fun and frivolity. There was cake and friendship. That is how it should be.

It was a highlight of our trip to meet Ken.


Guess the Tea

Here’s a small part of a chapter from THE HEART OF TEA. Can you guess the tea that is under discussion?

You can make this tea up quickly with very hot water, or slowly at a lower temperature, You can cold brew it and ice it. You can slightly sugar it and use it to trap people who claim not to drink white or green teas.

It’s not a cheap tea, as so many things can go wrong on the processing. It’s quite susceptible to the weather. It needs to be shipped right and stored right.

Purists will howl at this – I actually have tried some from India; and it is cheap and cheerful. It’s like the difference between a good steak and a great steak; and at a quarter the price, the Indian stuff was not unappreciated. Certainly not when downing it by the pint glass.

It is a tea you can have a complex and evolving relationship with – you can drink it endlessly for weeks, then just move on – until you find it has worked its way to the back of your tea cupboard, all alone and unappreciated. Then the romance begins again.

Maybe it’s more like an old friend. You might not see each other for some time; but when you do, you just pick up where you left off.

So, if you haven’t already, find some time to introduce yourself to <NAME OF TEA>. An old friend. We go way back.

{ahem} Women’s Problems

As Beasts of Brewdom, we take manliness very seriously, and one of the standard tenets of masculinity over the aeons is to refuse to have anything to with any discussion whatsoever of <ahem> Women’s Problems.

Except of course, for the incredible usefulness in jokes.

For example., I heard on the radio the other day this gem “If women ran the world, there would be no war. There would , however, be some very tense negotiations every 28 days”. And my favourite joke, which takes about ten minutes to tell and involves Harrods, and a large sale, and of course an Australian, would not be remotely possibly without <ahem> Women’s Problems.

But it’s time to man up, men! It’s time to have a full, frank and fearless discussion of <ahem> Women’s problems.

Part of the difficulty, as a man, is that we have to reconcile the images we see on TV ads for <ahem> Women’s Problems products, which shows women playing tennis, skipping happily along the beach and inventing cold nuclear fission reactors whilst dropping the kids off to school and winning ‘Parent of the Year’, with the raging beast in front of us that moves her chocolate to her left hand so she can run us through with a kitchen knife clasped in her sweaty right.

It is at these times that tea comes to the forefront. Let’s face it guys, there are times when the only that stops you from a guest appearance on an autopsy bench is that cup of tea you have thoughtfully made, and taken out on a delicate china cup, along with a vat of ice-cream or an entire chocolate mud cake (Hint, take a very blunt knife to cut the cake, just in case).

Now it is well known that the medical profession worldwide recommend* two teas for <ahem> Women’s Problems , and they are Lady Devotea and Fleurs de Provence, as they contain calming lavender and taste sweet, two essential ingredients in any tea for this occasion.

There was a guy who was once married to a family member, and he had this theory that as women knew about and could expect <ahem> Women’s Problems, they should just allow for it, not get cranky and get over it. He is no longer married.

So, in reality, men: the only thing you can do make some tea and cake, suddenly discover something that urgently needs doing some distance away, and only move back into your cherished lady’s orbit when it’s time for more tea.

Of course, if you have no lady in your life and no morals, there’s a real opportunity here. Here’s how it works.

Get a bucket of water. Hold some chocolate in your hand and shout angrily at the water. The water is now magically a genuine homoeopathic cure for <ahem> Women’s Problems. Bottle it and sell it for $10 an ounce.

As long as you move towns every four weeks, everyone else’s cloud can be your silver lining.

*A filthy lie and a shameless plug to boot – you just can’t trust us men.

Creeping Like an Effing Squirrel?

Here’s a quote about WINE – or old stale grape juice as I usually call it.

“A wine must be as clear as the tears of a penitent… When drunk, it should descend impetuously like thunder, sweet-tasted as an almond, creeping like a squirrel, leaping like a roebuck, strong like the building of a Cistercian monastery, glittering like a spark of fire, subtle as the logic of the schools of Paris, delicate as fine silk and cold as crystal.”

-Alexander Neckham, 1200-ish

What a load of old cobblers. These wine types, they love to just spout gibberish, don’t they? I can imagine it now:

Le Connoisseur du Vin Pretentious: Waiter!

Waiter: Yes, Sir?

LCdVP: This wine is not right!

Waiter: “Not right”, Sir?

LCdVP: The Roebuck is not leaping sufficiently.

Waiter: I don’t follow, Sir.

LCdVP: Not springing like a Roebuck should. Also, the spark of fire should be glitteryer; and I don’t think the impetuosity is quite as impetuous as it should be.

Waiter: Ah, Sir, I am with you now. Here’s my taser, Sir

LCdVP: Blgghh. Slrrrp.N-N-N-Nggfreeesh woooohhh

Waiter: Nothing like 12,000 volts to spark up that impetuosity, eh, Sir? You just lay there on the carpet, which I hope is to your liking., I’ll help myself to a tip from your wallet and then get a cleaner to mop up your dribble, Sir.


You get the point.

I fully agree that tea reviews need to be more than “me and the missus drank it. and it was ace. All malty ‘n stuff”.

But I question whether they need to involve archaic and cryptic Chinese Terms.

Because, as with wine, there’s a fine line between descriptive and masturbatory ; and almost no line at all line between inscrutably intellectual and Johnny-No-Friends.

Whatever you want to say about tea. I support it. If it doesn’t make me laugh, that’s no big deal- it doesn’t have to.

If what you say makes me laugh at the tea or the merchant, then great.

If it makes me laugh at YOU, you might want to consider a career in wine.


This is what they put into tea bags

This is a salutory lesson about the evils of teabags.

It starts here:

And gets worse:

And these guys aren’t finished:

Yet more indignity:

And this guy could almost be a Beast of Brewdom, if he moved to loose leaf.

(Thanks to @Jackie for pointing these out)