Saturday, October 16, 2010

Tea and Books Saturday #42 - "The Cup That Cheers"

The Cup That Cheers: A History of Tea
By Ethne Clarke
Reader's Digest Association, 1983, 1995

This small (48-page) book from the U.K. was an eBay find I purchased simply because I thought the cover was so lovely. To my surprise, it contained several tea tales and tidbits I'd never heard before. While I'd read that John Wesley was at one time part of the anti-tea movement, I did not know this group actually fought against tea for 12 years (!), until Wesley's doctor convinced him it was safe to drink tea again. (If you're interested in Wesley's tea-drinking habits, go here to see the design of the teapot Josiah Wedgwood made for him.)

And speaking of Josiah Wedgwood, I learned something about him in this book that made me appreciate his work even more: "... Wedgwood was particularly concerned that his earthenware be not only beautifully crafted, but also perfect in detail and function. So he brought home each new teapot design for his wife to test in day-to-day use." Here, here!

My favorite find in this book, however, was something related not to the U.K. but to our own Boston Tea Party. Clarke writes: "A raiding party of ersatz Red Indians -- Bostonians in full cry if not war-paint -- swarmed over the decks and spent the next three hours splitting open tea chests and tipping the entire consignment into the water -- which at the time was only 2 ft deep, so the tea piled up in soggy heaps about the vessel's flanks." It had never occurred to me to question the depth of the water! Two feet deep? What a soggy mess that must have been!

This little book is also packed with old illustrations related to tea and tea history. It is perhaps my greatest "good things come in little packages" find yet, and if you should come across a copy, grab it!


  1. I need to re-study the Boston tea party. My American history is a little rusty.

  2. Sounds like a wonderful book, Angela. Thank you for including the link on the Wedgewood teapot, very interesting. Hope you have a great weekend, Joanie

  3. If I do come across it I definitely will grab it. I like little books.

  4. That little tidbit about the depth of the water in Boston Harbor is just the kind of trivia I love to learn! Thanks for sharing!

  5. That does sound like an interesting little book. I love the teacup on the cover too.

    Thanks for the review.

  6. What a cute book. I can see why you were attracted to the cover.

  7. What a find! Funny, I was just thinking about the Boston Tea Party this week. I don't think anything could make me give up tea! I hadn't heard that the water was just two feet deep. Imagine how wonderful the tea smelled!


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