Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Interview with The Isle Of Tea

Who is the Isle of Tea?

Isle of Tea could be a group of ladies by the name of Betty, Kate, Ida, Plum, Luce and Dot. Or maybe it's none of them. Or even maybe just one or two. It is indeed everyone mentioned in certain senses, as sometimes don't you just feel that there are many brains and influences behind any idea? Whether it is a group of people or one person alone we see the Isle of Tea as a shared space, like a sort of community for people like us that feel that there's a lot more to tea than one might initially think. We love that we can share different people's perspectives on what it is about tea that they love, as we find it very interesting seeing and hearing the splendid tea stories, art, baking and sharing our love of tea with everyone.

When did the tea obsession start?

We have always appreciated that there is something special about tea but maybe not to the extent we do now. Ten years ago or so, we started collecting handmade pottery from various places, whether it be charity shops, antique and vintage warehouses or straight from the Potter's wheel. In fact we liked them so much so, that we wanted to get our hands stuck in the mud, so to speak and make our own. So we did.

Being crafty people since the word go, we wanted to look more into the background of tea and so began to be quite fascinated by the ceremony of tea. Reading about the different ceremonies in different parts of the world was fascinating and led to us making our very own tea set. And then went onto making a non-functional tea set asking the question of everyday objects being art and adapting the traditional hand-thrown pots. We even made a jug with four pouring spouts, to be put in the middle of the table, to be shared whilst sipping tea and chatting with friends.

It just so happened that we became increasingly more in love with tea dresses around our tea exploring phase. Their flattering shape and pretty floral designs instantly made us feel delicate and feminine. We realised that they do tend to suit most figures and the cuts of the dresses happen to be in just the right places, to make the plainest of Jane's look like the hottest of crumpets.

Not only is it great for people to express what they love about tea on the site, but we've had a fair few tea dress posts over the past months, one of which sticks out, by Kathryn Sharman. (When is a tea dress not a tea dress?)

What is your favourite tea?

We cannot say that we, (or one) has a particular favourite tea. There's such a wide variety and so many that have not even passed our lips. There are certain occasions where we feel different teas suit different times of the day and what mood we're in. Par example, it seems that your normal black tea is a good pick up anytime of the day, but particular teas go well with certain foods too. We particularly like a good cuppa black tea and a dash of milk (soya) with a good ol' veggie fry up, or egg and chips. There's just something so satisfyingly brilliant about the combination and so English.

However! We are presently having our taste buds tickled with this Rose Tea from Yogi Tea. Sweet, subtle, delicate and flavoursome!

What was the first thing that you posted in your ETSY and Folksy shops?

As far as we remember the first thing we put into our shops was one of our upcycled cake tier trays, made using found vintage crockery. It's one whole piece, carefully put together, that is remarkably strong. You can pick the whole thing up with any of the tea cup handles and nothing budges.

How did you start selling tea dresses?

We have at times sold various things on ebay but we wanted to find something that we liked and enjoyed selling. We were actually selling random bits from around IOT Towers at the beginning of the year when the thought occurred to us that it might be a good idea to sell vintage. We love vintage pieces of clothing, furniture, trinkets, shoes, bags etc etc. and thought it would be more fun to sell something that we have a passion for and adore, than selling boring trivial objects. We were also keen to sell vintage as we're tea folk that are very much into recycling. However, then the question was raised. What type of vintage should we sell? And not only that, but we wanted to learn more about vintage pieces and where they came from, how they're made, what's sought after and then really get our teeth sunk into them.

A sudden idea struck us. On a sunny morning dropping a miniature tea-pea at schoolage, we thought, how marvellous, how wonderful, how brilliant it would be to sell vintage tea dresses. We love wearing them. We love how they look. We love the designs and pretty patterns and colours. We just love them. The only problem was, finding and sourcing them all. We have to admit, that us here, little tea people from IOT (waves) are not exactly swimming around in pools full of dosh, so we had to think and source and discover (and think a little more) and finally decide to splurge our money and invest.
So we did!

It was exactly on this very morning, when thinking about tea dresses and selling them, that we thought we could expand the whole idea, (taking inspiration from our previous tea exploring). Although the words, *I love tea dresses* kept running through our minds, we began thinking that it would be even more wonderful and exciting to have a whole site all about tea, it's quirks and every little thing involved with tea. We had originally intended to be making our own pottery to sell too, but at present don't have any resources and need a few more pennies to live that dream out. So with all of our combined love of things tea related, the Isle of Tea was born. We realised, calling it I love tea dresses, didn't quite cut the mustard, then thought, obviously it needs to be called I Love Tea. Hence, Isle of Tea.

We had oringally started off selling the dresses on eBay which was all swell until for some unknown reason, whether it be that the summer had begun and people weren't as frequently on the computer, the dresses stopped selling. Which is an awful shame, because being a small little business we buy our next stock with the sales of the previous dresses. So we've not had many new dresses in for a while and in the meantime, we moved all of our stock over to our Etsy shop. Everything is currently crossed for our first sale!

How did you first start painting china?

As briefly mentioned above, we're very keen ceramicists. One day it would be our dream to be making our own pottery including tea sets and services. We also looked into using/making decals (ceramic transfers) but they also involve using a kiln. So we looked into the next best thing and that was cermic paint as it can be baked in a normal home oven.

To be honest, it's one of the things that we certainly need to catch up with. Always pleased to be recycling we thought it would be even better to paint old and found pots, so they can be appreciated, loved and used again, rather than being abandoned and discarded. So we then entered into the world of upcycling!

When did the blog start?

The blog only started on May 13
th this year after months and months of preparation, planning and lots of waking up in the night with ideas (and scrambling around for pens and paper).

Do you enjoy blogging?

We particularly like that we chose Isle of Tea to be a blog rather th
an just an informative site. This to us, means things can adapt, change and evolve moreso with each and every blog post and guest post. The most recent post is the first thing people will initially see before exploring the whole site and we love that it isn't always a post from just our perspectives, as there's a whole range of different guest posts and Tea & Bakes posts. We love hearing other people's voices about all the tea related or tea inspired things that they like to share, because isn't that a part of what tea is about? Sharing and talking and experiencing life over that good ol' cuppa.
Can anyone write a guest post?

One of the reasons why we're so keen on guest posts, is because, (as mentioned) we like to see Isle of Tea as a shared community where people can come together and share why tea is special to them and what it means to them. Another reason is that we are really interested in people and their thoughts and love being a base for people, who may not even have their own blogs, to reach out to other people all over the world and express themselves. It's not only interesting, having other people's perspectives on tea related things but the realisation that other people have this same feeling. That special “Tea” feeling. This quote we found recently from Gladstone sums it up rather nicely...

If you are cold
Tea Will Warm You
If you are too heated,
It will cool you.
If you are depressed,
It will cheer you.
If you are excited.
It will calm you”.

There's nothing quite like sharing a cuppa with someone, whether the conversation is one of joy or tears, life is a little more pleasurable having that break... having tea in our lives...

That little moment of comfort.

Surely there's only one thing left to say... I love tea.

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