Thursday, June 20, 2013

To Cosy or not to Cosy? That is the REAL question...

So, I am not sure if I’ve previously mentioned that I think I have an addictive personality?  Well just in case you missed it – I HAVE AN ADDICTIVE PERSONALITY!!  It’s totally out there now…no going back.

And yes it is abundantly clear that I use this said, self-diagnosis to justify my contribution to consumerism and my addiction to all things tea - two birds, one stone and all of that – but who cares right?

I must say though when I first started working at The Berry Tea Shop I declared  that there was no way I would ever become a crazy teapot lady (no offense to you wonderful crazy teapot loving individuals out there – we love you!) but never in a million years did I think I would become a crazy tea COSY lady!


Oh, how I do love a good tea cosy.  I must admit it wasn’t an instant attraction to the cleverly crocheted woolly hat looking thing.  To be honest I didn’t think they were anything other than a gimmick.
Then one day a delightful piece of fabulousness caught my eye and I knew I just had to have it. But before I went ahead and purchased it, I asked Cliff if they really worked, in the hope that he would say “no”, which would instantly change my mind and I would never have to concern myself with such silliness and frivolity again.

However, Cliff said “yes”, and then the crazy tea cosy lady was born…

I now have quite the collection, which I blame on our very creative and clever Tea Cosy maker, Vicky. But more on that later....

Have you ever wondered how the Tea Cosy came to be? It certainly has sparked my curiosity so I decided to do a little research.  So now if someone comes into the shop and happens to ask, I will sound like the most knowledgeable person IN THE WORLD (as long as the conversation sticks to the cosy!).  Anyways....

Tea was first introduced to Britain in the 1660’s when Catherine of Braganza married King Charles II. Young Catherine was quite fond of tea and brought the pleasures of ‘taking tea’ to the Court. Up until 1750 it was quite expensive to import tea, so it was only for the Aristocracy. As the British Empire expanded it became cheaper to import exotic goods and tea became Britain’s national drink.
Then in the 19th Century, Anna Russell the Duchess of Bedford started the Afternoon Tea trend, when well-to-do ladies would all gather around for a few tasty morsels of deliciousness and tea (of course) and do what ladies do best – TALK!

As they sat in their finest wears, sipping tea from the only the best china, these ladies would get so carried away with their gossiping about the Aristocracy and what not, that the tea would inevitably become cold. Some would use this as an invitation to leave, instead of calling for fresh tea, but I am more than positive that others would have been quite saddened that their little social affair had come to an abrupt end.

Enter the tea cosy – that little knitted hat looking thing to keep the tea warm. Partly out of the desire to keep tea warmer for longer (function) and the Victorian period custom of decorating and covering objects (fashion), the tea cosy was thrust into the limelight and became a part of afternoon tea drinking society.

A few hundred years later and the tea cozy is still important amongst the tea drinking society, especially during winter.  Now, I don’t know about you but I am not winter’s biggest fan. As far as I am concerned the only good thing about winter is boots, boots and boots! Boots are awesome! They keep your feet warm and they look hot! But just like your feet, your teapot needs to keep warm too - and wouldn’t you want your teapot to look equally as awesome as your feet?

Meet our tea cosy maker,  Vicky “flying fingers” Pye …

Vicki is quite the clever clogs and when you see the little creations she comes up with, I pretty much guarantee you will want to join me at the Inaugural Tea Cosy Anon meeting!

Vicki has been crocheting up a storm for years and some of her creations can be found at The Berry Tea Shop. Some of my personal faves are “Shaun The Sheep”, the  house with the red roof and my current favourite “Bab’s” the Babushka (Matryoshka) Doll.

If nothing tickles your fancy, floats your boat or makes your heart sing, Vicky makes cosies to order. We’ve had a couple of interesting requests -  Sigmund Freud, Frida Kalo - and they were AH-MA-ZING! We also have Mr T(ea) who has become the unofficial mascot of The Berry Tea Shop – he is so very cool! 

I personally would like to see an Alice in Wonderland, Snow White or even a Darth Vader cosy  Mmmm….on that note, I might just be off to put it to the powers that be ;)


I have discovered that I am not alone in my love of the cosy (and maybe not so crazy after all).  Tea cosies can be seen everywhere and they come in all sorts of designs, colours, patterns and materials.  They make a great conversation piece and are cherished by people all over the world.  Some people inherit tea cosies as family heirlooms (with plenty of stories attached),  there are tea cosy festivals and there have even been books written about them, “How Tea Cosies Change the World” (Loani Prior).  Tea cosies can simply add colour, design and fun to your life, over and above the function of keeping your teapot warm.

“Never trust a man who, when left alone in a room with a tea cosy, doesn't try it on. ” ― Billy Connolly


Keep your teapot warm and cosy this winter (as well as your head!).


Pru xx

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Introducing our Guest Blogger

Things have been rather hectic in our little shop since Christmas and some things have fallen by the wayside i.e our Blog page.  So we would like to introduce, Pru Gibson, who has been given the task of   Guest Blogger. Pru is a member of The Berry Tea Shop tea-m, and some of you may have had the pleasure of meeting her when visiting our store.  She is extremely passionate about all things tea (as you will see below) and excited to be  bringing you some interesting and informative facts about tea over the next few months.  Here is a little intro into her world....

Hi.  My name is Pru and I am a Tea Junkie.

I love all things tea - green tea, black tea, white tea (no, not black tea with milk!), herbal tea, chai tea, kombucha tea, tea pots, tea cosies (I have quite a ridiculous collection - awesome but ridiculous),  tea cups, vintage tea cups (well, anything vintage really), tea sets, tea caddies, cooking with tea and of course drinking tea!  In fact, I am sipping on a Chai as I merrily type this....mmmmmmm :)

I have quite a tea collection going on at my house. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a shrine, as that would be weird and little bit lame, but a collection nonetheless.  All sorts of loveliness can be found behind my Grandma's vintage table cloth curtain thingy – pride of place it is!

   Meet Cliff and Paulina....

They also love tea, so much so they opened their very own tea shop. To some they are known as the friendly, welcoming proprietors of The Berry Tea Shop. To others they are known as the best Employers ever. To me, they are known as "enablers" - Paulina and Cliff have knowingly been enabling my addiction for well over a year now.  I say knowingly as they knew what they were doing when they hired me.  I am almost 100% positive I am the sole reason they are open - ha!

In all seriousness, everyone who works or comes into the shop is probably just as much of a tea junkie as I am (with the exception of those who sit outside and patiently wait for their loved ones to finish up inside).

The Berry Tea Shop staff are all passionate about tea and everything that goes along with it.  Most of all we love to talk about tea and spread the love. We are a tea lovin' family one could say....and we are not at all weird or lame......

So if you haven’t yet been into our beautiful little shop I urge you to make the journey to Berry on the NSW South Coast and come and say "hi". Take a seat in our cafe and have a little bit of deliciousness with your tea. We have a very tasty selection of cakes, biscuits and scones (the latter could be even used as bribery to get those pesky non-tea loving family members to come in).

Once you have paid a visit to The Berry Tea Shop, we know you will be back!

We look forward to meeting you.

Miss Pru and the Tea-m xx

Sunday, October 7, 2012


Since we opened The Berry Tea Shop over 21/2 years ago we have pretty much worked every Saturday and Sunday, as this is when Berry is at it's busiest.  We usually have our days off on Monday & Tuesday but it's just not the same as sharing the weekend with everyone else.  Today was the first Sunday we had off in a while and it really felt like Sunday (if that makes sense?).   I actually got up early and headed out to the Berry Market then realised I wasn't actually that early as the clock's had gone forward.  There were lots of people out and about and I found it hard to find a parking spot - not usually a problem in Berry.

I happened to find a parking space outside the CWA and was lured in by the sign out the front.  It was a bit early for tea and scones (even for me) but I wandered inside as they were having a car boot sale.

 Unfortunately I didn't find anything there but those scones sure did smell good.  I wandered across the road to the markets and picked up a couple of little treasures...

 A vintage Royal Albert cup and saucer and a few Wedgewood plates (for the shop, of course!)

A few vintage buttons, some thread and an old sewing magazine.  

 And a cute little skirt which was made by a lovely local girl called Marty of Harp Handmade.

After a good few hours browsing the wonderful stalls, I headed home to spend some time in the garden.  I was very excited to see that our seedlings had emerged and are almost ready to planted.  We'll hopefully have lots of home-grown vegies in no time!

The best part of the day was sitting down to a beautiful Sunday roast (again not the same on a Monday) and spending a few hours reading the papers.

I'm now feeling very relaxed and ready for a busy week ahead...

Hope you all enjoyed your Sunday?

Paulina xo

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

2012 Darjeeling Teas now in store

Darjeeling tea is tea that is grown in the Darjeeling district of India and is known as the "Champagne" of teas.  Tea from this region is some of the best in the world.

Plucking season begins with the first flush of new growth in March and April. Following a short period of dormancy, the plants put forth a second flush that is picked from May into June. The summer months bring daily heavy rains from July until September, yielding a monsoon flush. (I was surprised to find that some of the gardens had switched to green tea production during the high yield monsoon season to secure large international contracts.) The autumnal flush is picked in October and November. The cold winter months of December to February are a period of dormancy.

Two and one-half acres yield an average of only 1,200 pounds of dry tea (less than a third of the yield of gardens in Assam or Nilgiri). Each Darjeeling tea bush yields only 3 - 4 ounces of processed tea in a year. Each pound of fine tea consists of more than 9,000 individually hand plucked shoots!

 In Darjeeling what is called a garden is actually a large plantation that may cover 1,000 or more acres, and cover 1,000 feet in altitude. These plantations, established by the British in 1852, are home to hundreds of workers and their families. Most are self contained communities with their own school, hospitals and temples.

No other tea in the world carries the distinctive muscatel overtones and bright coppery color of a tea from the Darjeeling region of North Eastern India. Its appearance, liquor and aroma are instantly recognizable by tea drinkers worldwide. A Darjeeling China bush will not produce the same muscatel tones if taken from its nest on the mountain and planted in the lowlands of Dooars or Assam. Darjeeling teas owe their unique flavor partly to the type of bush and partly to the climate. 
Yet it is estimated that 40 million kilograms of tea, often marked as “Pure Darjeeling,” finds its way into the market each year. This counterfeit tea may be a copper-colored light tea grown and processed in Sri Lanka or Kenya, or it might be tea brought across the mountains from neighboring Nepal, Sikkim or Bhutan. The Tea Board of India and the Darjeeling Tea Association have decided that to protect their unequalled reputation - and prices - their product must be trademarked and verified.
To make the name Darjeeling distinctive, the Tea Board of India has designed a logo now used by all producers, packers and exporters of Darjeeling tea. Application must be made with the Tea Board of India for its use.  Hopefully, this branding will give assurance to consumers that they are buying authentic Darjeeling tea.
 We now have some beautiful Darjeeling 1st and 2nd flush teas for 2012 in store:


One of the finest offerings of the Darjeeling 1st flush season from an organic garden.  A very fine  tea!
This beautiful  offering from Dooteriah is probably among the best 2nd Flush 2012 teas we will see from Darjeeling this season.

The leaf is coppery brown with a generous percentage of silver tips present. The aroma on opening the packet of dry leaves is distinctly 'Muscatel'. It promises a very brisk cup and it sure delivers on it's promise.

It brews a deep golden liquor and has a slightly oaky bouquet.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Zero Japan Ceramics

If you are looking for the perfect teapot then look no further than the range of handmade teapots from Zero Japan ceramics.  

Created by Koji Inoue, who was working at a Japanese porcelain manufacturer when he first thought of creating his own range of teapots. He longed to express his creativity; blending beautiful and functional design with rich tradition.  The idea grew so compelling, Koji quit his job one afternoon to pursue creating what is now known as Zero Japan.

In designing Zero Japan, Koji was driven by the Japanese pursuit of balance. All elements of the teapot range work in harmony with each other: the round shapes soften clear cut lines; the design combines practicality with strong, smooth shapes and interesting finishes—including a traditional Japanese style kikko crackle.

One of the most striking aspects to a Zero Japan teapot is its stainless steel lid. While it looks beautiful, Koji actually designed it to solve a problem for his mother, after she accidentally broke the lid of her favourite teapot—it just slipped off and the porcelain shattered. Upset, she asked to Koji to please find her a spare lid she could use but he could not find one. In fact, Koji discovered that many Japanese households had similar experiences, having no lid for beautiful teapots as they often slipped and broke. Koji ended up buying his mother a new teapot.

With this in mind, he started designing the durable, stainless steel clip-on lid featured on all Zero Japan teapots. It allows the pot to be easily used with one hand; as the lid is clipped on, it will not fall off. Needless to say, Koji's mother was very happy!

With so many colours, finishes and shapes to choose from there is one to suit every style and personality. The spout of every Zero Japan teapot is created by hand, so each lip pours a long, thin stream of steaming tea which falls precisely into your cup. The attention to detail is such hand-checks every pot. Koji knows that a beautiful looking teapot alone does not make beautiful tasting tea—so he put a lot of effort and thought into creating what lies under each lid.

A stainless steel infuser is suspended over the rim, which, after your first cup, keeps the tea leaves clear of the water to prevent over brewing, and ensures every cup of tea tastes as good as the first. This is particularly useful when brewing Japanese or Chinese tea, which can be used for several infusions. The filter cup is wide and deep, giving the tea leaves enough room to fully unfold and release their flavour.

Tea is as much a ritual as it is a beverage and in cultures all over the world it is a time to gather with special people and pause; to enjoy each other’s company and tell each other stories. We invite you to share your own story through your own Zero Japan teapot.

We have a large range of Zero Japan teapots available in store or on our website:

Thursday, May 31, 2012

YiXing Teapots aka Clay teapots

YiXing (pronounced ee-shing) teapots have long been known in China for their simple beauty and unique tea brewing qualities.   These handmade Clay teapots have been praised for the way in which they "drive away the smell of boiled water but do not rob the tea of its aroma".

Archaeological excavations reveal that as early as the Song Dynasty (10th century) potters near Yixing, a small town located a little way inland from Shanghai, were using local zisha clay to make utensils that could have functioned as teapots.   Zisha or "purple sand" refers to the locally occurring clay, which fires to a variety of rich brown colours.

Yixing teapots are meant for use with black and oolong teas, as well as aged Puerh tea. They can also be used for green or white tea, but the water must be allowed to cool to around 85 degrees Celsius before pouring the water into the pot. Yixing teapots absorb a tiny amount of tea into the pot during brewing. After prolonged use, the pot will develop a coating that retains the flavor and color of the tea. It is for this reason that soap should not be used to clean Yixing teapots. Instead, it should be rinsed with fresh water and allowed to air-dry. A studious tea connoisseur will only steep one type of tea in a particular pot, so as not to corrupt the flavor that has been absorbed.

Chinese Yixing Teapots are considered by some connoisseurs as the best possible way to steep tea.  We love our little clay teapots and just wanted to share a little of their beauty and mystery with the world x

Friday, May 11, 2012

Tea of the Month - Warm Spice

Winter's coming.......... the smell of burning log fires in the air, autumn leaves rustling by in the wind and the winter wardrobe has new additions. Our tea of the month, Warm Spice,  finds itself very appropriate.

Warm Spice is an enciting blend of warming spices and fruit pieces - cinnamon, cardamon, ginger, citrus peel and apple - combined with Rooibos tea. The perfect caffeine-free pick me up. 

For May ONLY buy Warm Spice online at 20% off.