Starting in the Fall of 2008 and ending Summer 2009 we researched the history and culture of tea.  We decided to do this because we all love tea and wanted to learn more about it.  As homeschoolers, we like to investigate history from different points of view (besides war and politics, which is the typical textbook point of view.)  So, this year we're looking at thousands of years of history and many different countries and cultures all from the point of view of a simple, hot cup of tea.

This is our map of Fine Tea Around the World.  Since tea can be any leaf brewed, we focused on traditional black (green, white and yellow) tea, all under the same name of "Camellia sinesis."  We also found that many places in the world grow this tea now, so we decided to only show where this tea has grown for hundreds, if not thousands of years as part of their traditional culture.  The blue is water (obviously), and the colored sections are the different countries that grow tea: Tanzania, India, China, Japan, Sri Lanka and Taiwan.  Each tiny cloth tea cup has a number that corresponds to a list of exactly what type of tea and the region it is grown. The Chinese writing is the character for "tea", which literally means "plant, mankind, being rooted" , which can be translated as "The revered plant that sustains mankind in his situation on earth."  Lilianna and Luke painted the dragons on the side as decorations and also reference to China, which is where tea originated.

This map was on the wall of The Good Leaf on Lark Street in downtown Albany, NY for many months.

One of the first things Lilianna did was dry some of our peppermint leaves in our garden.  Although those of technically tisane or herbal, she wanted to try it out.  After a few months, she remembered she had done it, and took them out of her closet.  One batch had mold and the other was lovely dried peppermint leaves.  She put small amounts in tissue paper, then folded cute origami boxes to put them in.  Lilianna sold them for 25 cents each at our homeschooling group and her customers found them to have a lovely flavor!

After this site was completed, I sent out an email to a few tea companies to see if they would check it out.  The Republic of Tea sent us this delightful email back and then we receive four cool hats and four personal tea mugs with steamer baskets!  How generous! 
We are forever fans of the Republic of Tea.
"Dear Citizens,
As our Minister of the People,
it was very enjoyable to first read your note
 and then visit the website you and your family prepared about tea adventures!
How very impressive! I am sure there was a lot of hard work involved
 and you have learned about the many virtues of "the leaf."
We are happy that your family has helped with our Tea Revolution too.

As a small token of our appreciation,
we would like to send you a few treasures from Our Republic.
Please send us your mailing address and tell us how many people are in your homeschool.

Best Sip by Sip regards,
The Minister of the People"

Taking a hike with our new Republic of Tea hats!