Category: The Ravings of The Beasts

Staple Diet

I was in the office the other day of an organisation that works in the organic food sector.

In their kitchen is a huge bowl in which the staff can throw organic waste for composting.

I noticed a teab*g in the bowl.

Now, a reasonable reaction is turn over the bowl and a few chairs and scream loudly : “WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE???”.

However, my enquiring mind got in first and thought “what about the staple?”.

There it was, bold as brass (although not actually brass), a staple holding the unnecessary piece of dirty string to the filthy paper-pillow of undrinkable (though organic-certified) tea.

I wondered if it was acceptable for metal to be part of organic composting.

Turns out that metal is invisible in the organic process. It’s not seen as organic, or not organic. It just is. It’s like steel is suddenly Buddha.

Does that seem right?

I can’t see any ethical justification for teab*gs: if you care about the planet, why would you use one. But the staple, I think, takes it to whole new level.

Why are we providing worms with steel, the result of thousands of years of human cleverness? On the day when armoured worms rise up, pointing their fannings-soaked steel-tipped mini-lances at our ankles and attempting to subvert our rightful place at the top of the food chain, we’ll all be sorry.

Post Challenge Review

Well, we did it. A challenge was issued and four blogs were posted.

The four greatest male tea bloggers in the world* all took part in the challenge to create a non-fiction post using a title that some random person on the internet assigned to them, and the titles could only be drawn from the titles of Mills and Boon romance novels.

Here’s how it went down.

And thus ends another challenge.


*The four greatest male tea bloggers in the world, according to our sample survey of four male tea bloggers

Sugar Island



Sugar Island?

As soon as I got given that title, I thought. “Yep, I know what I’ll write about: The Sugar Islands.

After all, there’s no actual place called Sugar Island.

OK, so I looked it up a while later, and there is, but it’s in Michigan. Probably one of the most boring states of the US. They might as well have let Canada have that one, no one would care.

And anyway, nothing important involving tea ever happened in the USA.

Well, there was this one thing, but it’s a long time ago and they’ve probably forgotten about it.

So, where was I? The Sugar Islands.

OK, lots of islands probably grow sugar. Even Australia grows sugar, and we are the biggest island there is.

But to me, Sugar Islands means the West Indies.

Growing up in Australia in the 1970s, I learnt very quickly that this is where a bunch of men came from who were elegant, dignified, had old fashioned names like “Garfield” and “Lancelot” and the most amazingly rich and beautiful speaking voices, had great sportsmanship, were very, very tall and were absolutely committed to killing people with a cricket ball by launching it at fearsome speeds from a great height.

Some people don’t think the West Indies is an accurate description of a real place. They point out that places like Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago and the like are actual countries, and that the West Indies is just a cricket team. Well, screw them. This is my post, and if I choose to use a phrase that is redolent of historical colonialism, I shall, Don’t like it? Go read some other blog about how some single mother in Michigan can’t decide between two brands of infant formula.

So, did I mention The Fable of The Bees yet?

In 1705, the book “The Fable of The Bees: or, Private Vices, Public Benefits” was published by Bernard Mandeville. It’s basically one poem “The Grumbling Hive: or, Knaves turn’d Honest” and a few notes. Bernard considered himself an economist, and given that so far he’s got four friggin’ titles for essentially one short poem, he’s clearly not too far wrong.

Bernie was a riot.

Anyway the book was ignored for a few decades, and then became suddenly popular around 1730.

Here’s a bit of it for your, er,  enjoyment:

For many Thousand Bees were lost.
Hard’ned with Toils, and Exercise
They counted Ease it self a Vice;
Which so improved their Temperance;
That, to avoid Extravagance,
They flew into a hollow Tree,
Blest with Content and Honesty.

Basically, the point for Bernie M was never mind Psalm 137:1* and all that pleasing Jesus stuff, Christianity is bad for society. Consuming as many luxuries as you can is the new mantra. Eating humble pie might get you into heaven, but you eating partridge pie is far better for the local pie shop owner.

Like many others, he was championing consumption – not the Tuberculosis kind, although that was popular at the time as well. Eat drink and be merry, for tomorrow we can afford new shoes.

And so, someone came up with the idea of putting sugar in tea.

Neat, hey? You thought I’d forgotten the sugar. Well, I hadn’t.

So,. why would a bunch of economists want people drinking tea with sugar?

Well, here’s a clue from Portcities website:

Some 2,108 slaving voyages set out from Bristol between 1698 and 1807. The number of voyages varied, from over 50 each year in the 1730s, to less than 8 a year in the 1800s

Ok, so the height of the slave trade is the 1730s, and these economists are exhorting the consumption of luxuries, including sugar, in the 1730s. Co-incidence? No!

Basically, slave ships from the UK left port, sailed for West Africa, collected up to 600 slaves, took them to the sugar plantations in the West Indies, sold the survivors, loaded up on sugar, and sailed back to Merry Olde England.

So, if not for tea and cakes – the two main uses of sugar at the time – there would have been a damn sight less than 2,108 slaving voyages from Bristol. Not to mention the dozen or so other ports involved.

It’s basically a circular argument. without the need for sugar, there’s no need for slaves, and therefore no need for slave ships.

It’s a trend we see to this day: Create the demand and create the wealth.

Now, the obvious question is this: If we know that slavery consists of robbing people of their liberty and transporting them thousands of miles away, treating them like animals and possessions simply to make money, didn’t people in the 1700s and thereabouts feel a bit guilty every time they tucked into some sweetened tea and a bit of cake?

I know it makes me a little uncomfortable. And by “a little uncomfortable”, I mean the “Why the hell aren’t we marching in the streets and burning down buildings?” kind of discomfort.

So, who was speaking up for the slaves? I guess they might have been relying on the clergy. Here’s what one of those guys said:

“The question at issue then is, whether or not six millions of British White people, to whom rum and sugar have become a sort of necessary luxury, should, contrary to the Law of Luxury, sacrifice the use of rum and sugar to the liberty of few thousand Black people from the wilds of Africa” – From “An Apology for Slavery; Or, Six Cogent Arguments Against the Immediate Abolition of the Slave-trade, by The Reverend Alexander Geddes, 1792

With all due respect to the Rev Geddes, he was a git. He’s a prime example of why people cast doubt on the self-serving smug pricks who think a friggin’ cassock or dog collar makes them virtuous. “Law of Luxury”, indeed. I’m surprised he didn’t add some “Commandments of Comfort”.

Sure, there were other members of the clergy who were against the slave trade, but the convenient narrative promulgated now is that the shopkeepers were the supporters of the slave-derived goods and the clergy were against, and it’s not so.

And indeed, here we come to a shopkeeper:

“…..Being Impressed with a sense of the unparalleled suffering of our fellow creatures, the African slaves in the West India Islands…..with an apprehension, that while I am dealer in that article, which appears to be principal support of the slave trade, I am encouraging slavery, I take this method of  informing my customer that I mean to discontinue selling the article of sugar when I have disposed of the stock  I have on hand, till I can procure it  through channels less contaminated, more unconnected with slavery, less polluted with human blood……” James Wright, A merchant of Haverhill, Suffolk, in an advertisement the General Evening Post, March 6th 1792

Good on you, James. I raise my teacup to you. Note that I don’t take sugar.

The West Indies may now be a region without slavery, and with vibrancy and art and love and food and family and politics and cricket – all the things that make life bearable – but it was born in blood and misery.

So, whenever you’re asked if you take sugar, spare a moment to remember what was taken in the name of sugar.



*Psalm 137:1 is “By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion.” Yes, you’ve been part of possibly the best obscure joke in a blog ever.

Release the Beasts

I created Beasts of Brewdom five years ago.

The idea was that it was to be a place for out-there tea blogging, specifically by male tea bloggers. Yes,  it’s a Gentleman’s  Club.

Not in the sense of hugely expensive meals and saucy goings-on, but as a counter to the overt feminisation of tea and tea-drinkers. A place to write silly and have fun at our own expense. Oh, and at the expense of everyone else.

At many an afternoon tea, I find myself the only male, or if there are others there, they look apologetic. It’s a female domain, it seems. And the Internet is much the same.

SIDEBAR: Are you a young man looking for female company and capable of maths? If so, why aren’t you attending as many afternoon teas as you can? 99% female and often sadly focused on champagne rather than tea. Stop reading now, Sonny, you have a social diary to plan.

So, I created this space for three bloggers: Geoff, Ken and myself to be louder, more obnoxious, more testosterone fuelled than usual. I mean more than is usual for us, because we’re not exactly Charles Atlas types. more ‘read an atlas’ types.

I look back over 2014 and there’s a few sarcastic poems by me, one article by Geoff, none by Ken and a few by latecomer Johnny Teacup. That’s a bit rubbish, isn’t it?

So, should we let it quietly die? I SAY “NAY” in a strident, yet not equine, way.

I’ve just updated the background to a sort of gentlemanly wood panelled affair, after the Tea Trade crash that caused many of the photos to disappear.


I call on Geoffrey Norman, Ken Macbeth Knowles, Johnny Teacup and myself to take on this challenge. Further more, if other men are named in the challenge, I call on them to man up, not slink away like a gelded ferret.

So, Dear Readers, CHALLENGE US: Here’s how it works!

  1. Be the first to name one of the Beasts.
  2. Challenge that beast to write a post on Beast of Brewdom
  3. Select a title from this 92-page list of Mills and Boon Romance titles and assign it to them.
  4. Hassle them every day until they wrote a non-fiction BoB post with that title..

Men who are not authorised to post here can contact me on Facebook/Twitter and I’ll make it happen.

Add your challenge to the comments. I’ll be adding one straight away.
Buckle on your sword belt, Beasts, and let’s take this challenge down.


*More or less

The Joy of Big Balls

A cup needs an infuser, half full of leaf tea,

To make a reasonable brew, satisfactorily.

A teapot needs loose leaves all roaming free,

And a strainer, to perform spectacularly.


But what of those times, when the two ideas meet?

You enter a tea shop, fresh from the street,

And respond to the person whose task is to greet,

“A two-pot of Assam”, so malty and sweet.


And so it arrives, steam wafting up,

You grab the pot’s handle and manoeuvre the cup,

And the liquid’s not tan, but pale buttercup,

You whip off the lid for an infusory checkup


And there in the teapot’s cavernous inside,

You follow the chain that is tied to the side,

And see that the Assam that they did provide,

Is trapped in a tiny ball they’ve supplied.


“This won’t do! It’s unconscion-able”

You scream as you climb on top of the table,

“You’ve imprisoned my tea, it should be flable,*

But to twist, turn and brew, it’s completely unable”.


“I won’t stand for this! I’ll start a brawl!,

I’d get better tea in a boarding school hall,

This tiny contraption is no good at all,

The fine leaves are trapped in the tiniest ball!”


You must hope this behaviour is a lesson they learn,

What to do for tea-suppers whose pennies they earn,

Those customers whose goodwill they don’t wish to burn,

Who expect good results when they turn to the urn.


For all of the teapots that are served in these malls,

And corner cafés and family dining halls,

Issue dark liquor cascades, like Niagara Falls

When they encapsulate the joy of big balls.


Inspired by our latest tea purchase, a massive infuser ball.

Inspired by our latest tea purchase, a massive infuser ball.



*flable is an actual word meaning “Liable to be blown about”. I’m using it metaphorically. And with an air of desperation.

Real Men Drink Flowers

A post about chrysanthemum pu’er, in which Johnny encounters the supremely manly musk of this testosterone-laden tea.

I am sick and tired of people decrying flowers as froo-froo, prettified, sissy-bait, or the like. When correctly viewed and ingested, flowery teas like this Chrysanthemum Pu’er brick can contain all of the necessary ingredients for the Exercise of True and Powerful Masculinity.


1) Like all great shou pu’er, this tea smells of the earth, worked by the hands of the swarthy and well-hung since time immemorial.

2) The flower used in this tea is Snow Chrysanthemum, which has been shown to contain masculianine, the botanical equivalent of human male pheremones. While drinking the tea, the vapors will send the signal of Man to all man-loving people nearby; when drunk regularly, it increases the power of the drinker’s pheremonal attraction by a whopping 790%, making Johnny (at least) the most desirable side of beef in this two-bit town.

3) The smooth, musky aroma of the brewed leaf, the gaiwan lid after brewing, and of the liquor itself is heady and intoxicating, like a memory (though certainly not the actual scent) of over-applied Old Spice on your favorite high-school quarterback.

Smelling and drinking this tea, infusion after infusion, I fall in love with myself…

and there is nothing manlier than that.

The Perfect Pairing, You Young Whippersnappers

I’m over tea pairing with food. Ho hum. All I hear some days is “Lord Devotea, what tea should I have with my Mars Bar foie gras?”

Listen folks, we don’t have to be as dull as wine folk. Their product is just old grape juice. They need to oversell. “Please, please drink Chardonnay when you’re eating a ham sandwich. We beg you” . It’s undignified.

That’s not to say there is not a place for educating the ignorant. If people have not taken the time to try a few hundred teas, they may be unaware of the options for a nice tea to go with their filet mignon or bag of doughnuts. Even though in this case the ignorance is their fault, a little gentle coaching now and then is acceptable. So, as an example when kind-hearted people like @jopj offer a class so that the truly ignorant can better themselves by learning about pairing tea and chocolate, then I can be charitable.

But for those of us who make, blend, write about, sell, review or serve tea, to pair tea with food is such a narrow thing.

Tea is for pairing with LIFE ITSELF!

I have previously remarked that the best pairing in the world is a cup of Lord Petersham and a new episode of Downton Abbey. This I wholeheartedly believe. And judging by an upswing is sales each time it comes on, I’ve managed to pull that off.

So I could expend another 3,000,000 words giving you ideal tea pairings for everything from delivering sextuplets to learning Hungarian, from your first driving lesson to committing bank fraud.

I could, and you know I could, and it’s probably making you nervous, so let me calm you down by saying I won’t.

However, it seems I have a certain reputation for ranting, Who knows why, I’m usually pretty reasonable. It’s been ages since I’ve advocated setting fire to anything or anyone.

Nevertheless, I am going to offer now a selection of rants, and a tea to go with them. Strap yourselves in!


Why is the world suddenly being run by young people? Back in my day young people were basically half-formed semi-sentient creatures who barely got up by the crack of noon in time to fill the fridge with beer. Now they are heading soulless accounting firms, running on-line businesses selling unproven products and even standing for parliament. How can you stand for parliament if you have to be home by 10 pm weeknights and need to borrow $20 from Dad every day because your clapped-out car chews through the petrol? Young people should be wasting their lives at university earnestly discussing how they will fix the world, not poncing about in three piece suits with over-sized wristwatches or hanging about clubs wearing $2000 designer skirts from a ‘designer’ who just staples pipe cleaners together.


There’s an undercurrent of bitterness and lost opportunity in that rant, so let’s counteract it with a nice, smooth mellow Mokalbari East or similar Assam.


Look, that guy is smoking in public. Why is he smoking out here? Or at all? It’s the 21st century! Surely there are small coffin-like spaces we can shut smokers in endlessly recycling their smoke back at them ’til they die? Or apply a public beating at least.


A lovely Lapsang Souchong is called for here, or a Russian Caravan if you’re chicken. Prove to the world that you can get a bit smokey without offending those around you. Set a dignified good example, and ignore the knocking sound, growing ever feebler, from the wooden box full of bound and gagged smokers in your basement.


Why is this TV station showing the same commercial twice in the same break? Do they not realise how annoying that is? No wonder piracy is the new TV. What sort of idiots are they? Even if I ever want to buy a new car / sanitary product / loaf of bread / annuity /  ear wax remover, I’ll buy one from a brand that hasn’t annoyed me in 30 second installments 57 times in one episode of SVU.


You might think you need soothing, but I say NO!! Fan your rage with a highly caffeinated, over-steeped dark Keemun. An extra minute takes these teas from being the perfect gentlemen in your cup to a snarling beast climbing the sides. Use it to fuel your righteous anger. Three cups and your living room will look like a hotel room that The Eagles have just left, circa 1979.


I ordered tea. I didn’t order milk. And the milk I didn’t order isn’t on the side, it’s in the damn tea. What’s wrong with you people? What if I had stapled a live tarantula onto the fiver I just handed over? You didn’t ask for it, but hey, you got it.


Now, that’s tricky, as you already have tea. The perfect answer here is to just ask for hot water, reach into your jacket pocket or handbag and pull out your emergency tea-sac full of good tea. I always carry Fleurs de Provence, as it has an aroma that people love and makes them jealous. But whatever you’re carrying, it’s bound to be better than whatever they have just served you.

And there you have it.

So, for your homework, I’m going to list five obvious opportunities to rant. Let me know your options for dealing with any or all of them.

  1. Colleagues who eat tinned fish at their desk
  2. Drivers whom you politely let in in traffic and who don’t acknowledge that with a jaunty wave
  3. Hall and Oates on a jukebox
  4. People who use the wrong word repeatedly, like “pacifically” for “specifically’
  5. Medical receptionists who act like er, well, medical receptionists.

Please share your thoughts in my comments. I plan to rant about those who don’t, accompanied by a nice silver needle.


10 Of Your Opinions That Tea Lovers Don’t Give A Damn About

Lord Devotea’s List Week. List 1*

At some point, someone has probably offered you proper loose leaf tea. And perhaps you don’t drink it.

That’s OK- and this list is for you!

When offered, you may have made a hugely offensive comment. After all, you don’t drink tea, you’ve probably got other character flaws including little or no judgement.

So, here’s a quick and polite guide to stop you embarrassing yourself with your own ignorance and stupidity.

(1) Tea is Just Tea

You think all tea tastes the same? That it IS the same?

So you think it’s OK to say “I don’t like tea” because you tried a stale Liptons tea-b*g in in 1987?

To tea drinkers, that’s just as credible as if you’re standing on a street corner, clad only in alfoil shorts and a banana-leaf halter top, with cymbals strapped to your knees. You’re clashing the cymbals together whilst screaming at the top of your lungs that ferrets are planning to take over the world, and the International Ferret Revolution will be happening next Tuesday at 5:37 a.m. GMT.

Think about that the next time you’re offered a decent cuppa.

(2) You think you might drink Oolong to lose weight

It’s not our fault that you think Dr Oz is the real life equivalent of Gandalf. Yes, you should drink tea, and buckets of it, but if you try to lose weight without diet and exercise, it will be exactly as successful as trying to become the number one tennis player in the world by wearing the same aftershave as Roger Federer.

Also, I can sell you some magic beans. Send $1000 to me in a self-addressed envelope. Ask your carer to post it.

(3) You think tea-b*gs are good enough

No , they are not. Idiot.

(4) You think, “But, but. Lord Devotea, silky tea-b*gs with ‘whole leaf tea’ in them really are good enough.”

No, you’re still an idiot. And when you say that sentence, there’s a definite whining quality to your voice that makes us want to drown you.

Listen, “silky” tea bags are usually made of plastic or corn starch, not silk. Did you really fall for that? And the wonderful phrase “whole leaf tea, cut up” is like describing your car as “A space shuttle, but with a few less features”.

(5) You think I’m a ‘Tea Snob’

This one makes my blood boil. All I have to do is take a moderate amount of care to make a cuppa – about the same level of care I take to put petrol (gasoline), not diesel, in my car’s fuel tank – and I’m a tea snob?

Get this: just because someone has a set of standards that is minimally above your level of “how many gallons of Coca-Cola do you want with your greaseburger” gastronomy does not make them a “tea snob”. It makes YOU sadly inadequate.

(6) Tea is for when you are sick

There’s no denying that tea is great when you are sick. But only having it when you are sick is like SCUBA diving but only breathing in the air when you’re passing out.

And if you drink tea, you’ll probably get sick less anyway. Science says so.

(7) Tea is an old person’s/ woman’s/ homosexual’s/ Kanka Bono/ Asian/ British/<insert other group here> drink

Of course it is. It’s everyone’s drink. IT’S THE MOST POPULAR BEVERAGE IN THE WORLD, you moron. It’s more popular than the Dr Pepper or Jim Beam you drink for breakfast, the rap music you listen to, that TV show you watch about that dude who does funny stuff or the illicit magazine you are hiding from your mother/significant other/warden.

Yes, everybody! Except you. We’re not only drinking tea, we’re laughing at you behind your back.

(8) But I drink coffee

What do you want, a medal?

So you drink coffee? Do you eat more than one type of food? You know, Burgers AND fries? I’m pretty well over talking to you at all!

(9) But I don’t like all those fussy little China cups.

Look, we’re done here. Seriously? If that’s the best you can come up with, then I recommend you have a crack at voluntary euthanasia. Just do it somewhere quietly, away from the tea drinkers, OK?

(10) But drinking tea doesn’t fit with my politics because, you know, the ‘Tea Party’ and all that…

Oh shut up. I’ve stopped listening.

*This is List One of “Lord Devotea’s List Week” a spectacular week of lists that will be spread over the Beasts of Brewdom and Lord Devotea’s Tea Spouts blog. 


International Coffee Day

It’s international Coffee Day. (It really is, look it up on Wikipedia if you doubt us.)

It’s an important day.

Over their lifetime, most people in Western countries will suffer from coffee at some time.

It’s a debilitating condition, and as we swill the last of our Darjeeling FTGFOP1, it’s important that we put aside this special day to think about those less fortunate than ourselves.

So, it’s time to do your bit.

Make tea for your friends, your family. Remember, every cup of tea you make someone removes the threat of coffee for between 30 minutes and 2 hours.

Let’s hope in the future, we don’t have to have an International Coffee Day, because it is but a distant memory, like smallpox or Hall & Oates. Even if our memory has been enhanced by drinking at least 4 cups of tea every day.

And share this post, so we can get the message out there.

Flattery of the Social Kind

I had a bit of thinking about where this post needed to go.
Not on my tea blog, as even a master of tea placement like myself can’t pretend it’s about tea. In fact, tea will only turn up once within this story. I’ll mark it with an asterisk so you don’t miss it.
Not on my Muses and Rants blog, because I’ve used that about once in the last two years, and it doesn’t really fit.

So Beasts of Brewdom it is: and to be fair it contains manly stuff, a little brewed beverage and bangs on about social media, which is after all how Beasts of Brewdom was invented.

So, within the social media sphere I have somewhat of a profile, and for the most part, that is all thanks to my relentless blogging and my highly abusive tweets. It also helps that I am connected to some really well known tea bloggers and a few others.
So, the ratings site Klout has me in the middle of the pack. This turns out to be quite useful.
You may remember years ago I mentioned that a company had sent me a pile of Japanese tea at one time to review.

It included genmaicha, which I have no idea what to do with, as I don’t own a horse.

So we took all the Japanese teas and turned them into bath bombs with varying degrees of success. At the time, I pointed out in my blog that with a little research, they never would have been daft enough to send me that tea.
Enter Dollar Shave Club, who have decided to send me some razors. The selection process seems to be that I have a reasonable Klout score, live in Australia and am male. Pretty reasonable odds that the product might be useful. Sure, I might have a religious ban on shaving, have alopecia or be 11 years old, but happily, none of those are true.

After treating me to an excellent and hilarious video, these guys duly sent the razors which arrived yesterday.

So this morning, I put down my cup of Lord Petersham * and put blade to face.

Well before trying the razors, I had shared the video on Facebook and Twitter. It’s hilarious. So these guys had already won. It’s cost them a few free razors.

The funny thing is, I heard the guy from Dollar Shave Club on the radio a year ago, and was impressed by what he had to say. After he finished, a guy who claimed he used to work for Gilette rang the station, and said that that company made so much money from replacement razors that they referred to the factory that makes the replacements as “the mint”.

I decide then and there to sign up.

But I was in the car at the time, and the information had dribbled out of my brain within a few minutes.

So, back to my face. A few pumps of shaving oil on my three-day growth, and out with the razor.

Was it any good.


It was f***ing great, to quote their slogan.

The handle was really comfortable, the 4 blades did the trick, and the idea that I get a new one each week is really attractive. Normally, I make the last one last, if you know what I mean.

So, why blog about it?

Because this is the future. This is smart, product-driven, niche marketing. And non-religeously-beardy, non-alopecian adult Australian males is a sizable niche.

They engaged me with humour and flattery, backed it up with a great product and a unique delivery method and they won.

So why blog about it? Why not just use the free razors and quietly get on with life.

The reason is simple: a few years from now when half the products in the world are sold like this, I can smugly point to this and say: I saw this coming.

After all, I am moderately influential. Australian. Male. And closely shaved.

*there it is