Saturday, July 2, 2016

My Country, 'Tis of Tea — Montana

Did you know that Montana women got the right to vote in 1914, six years before the country passed the Nineteenth Amendment? That's just one of the fun things I learned while researching tea-and-Montana this week…

An article on the website says,"Montana’s pioneering legacy might conjure up images of a coffee pot always brewing to keep up with long days of hard work.  Sure, we love our coffee in Big Sky Country, but tea also has a warm spot in our hearts and regional history - and Riza Gilpin and Laurie Rennie are transforming custom-blended teas into a business success story in Big Timber, Montana.” In the article "Tumblewood Teas: Montana Success Story," Gilpin, one of the founders, notes her love of western history and shares that, when she began to research tea's legacy in the west, she found that "everyone had a great tea story, from sweet memories to stories about the treasured tea sets their families brought out to Montana when they came west generations ago." If you'd like to read more about these tea entrepreneurs in Montana, click here.

"Butte, Montana. Tea Table at the Little Norway Knitting Club." That's the title of this 1942 image from the Library of Congress, part of the Farm Security Administration's Office of War Information Photograph Collection. According to some info I found at Montanawomen', Montana's ethnic women's groups gathered for a variety of reasons in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and they also provided "companionship in a strange new land, preserving and adapting ethnic traditions, and helping women become engaged citizens in their adopted home." And so the Little Norway Knitting Club gathered for tea. Look at the height of those cake slices on the left — yum! If I could time travel, I think I'd pop back there right now and say howdy. I bet they'd offer me some tea, don't you? 

The most interesting tea-related news out of Montana, however, may well end up being the work of a Montana State University professor. MSU health and human development professor Selena Ahmed and other researchers in 2013 won a four-and-a-half-year, $931,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to study "how long-term changes in weather and shifting patterns of precipitation impact the quality of tea, farming communities and land-use strategies." Ahmed has said she is "particularly interested in learning how the health benefits of tea are changing and what management practices can best reduce risks associated with producing and distributing tea." Her research has the possibility of affecting how crops are grown not only in Montana but also around the world. Normally, a press release about a grant would make my eyes glaze over, but I read every word of this well-written one by Anne Cantrell. If you'd like to read the piece for yourself, click here.


  1. That's super interesting!

    I love it - never know what new tea-related thing I will learn from you.

    Thanks, Ang. Hugs. ♥

  2. Fascinating research being done. Loved that photo and did notice those cakes. Wishing you could be transported into that time and visit the ladies for tea. Now wouldn't that be fun!

  3. You find the most interesting things for this Saturday series!

  4. Very interesting. If you come across the results of that grant, in a few years, please share.


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