Penny Blake

Extraordinary Everyday

Category: Tea

The Curious Adventures Of Messrs Smith And Skarry

The evil overlord Wiz has seized control of all the tea, cake and magic in the universe.  In a world crammed with dubious science and cream-powered technology, crippled by sugar tax and loose leaf ration books, overrun by cake smugglers, tea fiends and lemonade dealers, ruled over by Tea Time Lords and policed by vigilante mechanical angels, only a band of truly extraordinary adventurers can bring down this oppressive empire and save the good people of earth from this tea time tyranny. Could these two would-be wizards, Messrs Smith and Skarry, and their band of relentless rogues, be the anti-heroes The New World has been waiting for, or have they simply stirred up an enormous storm in a rather tiny teacup?

Most of you are familiar with the graphic novel I’ve been working on for the past two years and I’d like to thank you all so much for the kind encouragement, advice, support, psychiatric assessments and asylum referrals you’ve offered during that time. I’m happy to say that Smith and Skarry now have their own website and thanks to the awesome talents of illustrator Robin Eisenberg, the print version of the graphic novel is beginning to take shape. You can read the full text along with the illustrations as they are completed here:

Thanks again for all your support, I really hope you enjoy what we’ve put together so far 🙂

The Tea Activists’ Handbook: Introduction to November



November was gifted to us by The Powers That Tea, so that we could stand outside in the cold and the dark, drinking bonfire-flavoured Yerba Mate and reflecting on the fact that it is probably not very nice to burn people on bonfires or blow each other up, or shoot at each other with guns. Important messages which, like a nice Masala Chai, need mulling over, lest we forget.


The Sacred Tea for November is Yerba Mate.


The Scared Ritual for the first of November is as follows:


The Chant:


Red the poppies of the field

            Red the blood that has been spilled

            Green the tea this day we make

            Green the life, not ours to take


The Oath:


I solemnly swear to accept the gift of the month of November as a month for contemplating endings and beginnings, for comforting those who grieve, for celebrating and enriching the lives of those around me. I will honour the Powers That Tea by drinking Yerba Mate with respect and acknowledging that its life-giving goodness is a divine gift to all, not to be hoarded or monopolized by one group of greedy guzzlers. As a mark of this vow I will wear my  Sacred Tea Scarf every day during the month of November.

I solemnly swear that I am up to a lot of good… although it may not seem like it at the time.


Ceremonial Garb: (Optional)


The Sacred Tea Scarf



Celebrating 20 years of the Fairtrade Mark #Steampunk style

Pinkies Around The World

2014 celebrates 20 years of the FAIRTRADE mark and, seeing as tea features so prominently in Steampunk culture, this is a great opportunity to celebrate the fact that we can now enjoy this delicious beverage guilt-free by choosing to make sure that the brew that stews in our pot has been ethically produced.

I’m proud that the tea in my larder is fairly traded and I want to persuade (not bully or shame but just encourage) as many other people as possible to switch to Fairtrade too.

There are lots of campaigns out there trying to do the same thing and I’m not trying to steal their thunder or tread on their toes but this is a project especially for Steampunks because, well, come on guys, we do drink a lot of tea between us… 😉  (And coffee but shhh, that’s a secret…)

Really, it’s just a bit of fun to celebrate 20 years of hard work and splendid tea. If this sounds like something you would like to be a part of then all you have to do is this:

sept20142 001

1. Pledge for one whole day (or longer if you like!) to drink only Fairtrade tea / coffee.

2. Take a photo of your pinkie finger (yeah, stick it up in salute like you would with your middle finger if you were flipping someone the bird – which of course you would never ever do I am sure.. and neither would I… ever…never…ah-hem.)

3. Put the photo on your blog, facebook wall or any other social media platform you use, with the caption “I’m Giving Unfairly Traded Tea The (pinkie) Finger” with a line or two about why you’ve chosen to drink fairly traded tea or a link to a fairly traded tea you like or something like that – anything that lets people know why you are doing this is fine. The link below will take you to the Fairtrade website where you can vote for your favourite Fairtrade product and join their official celebration events too:

3. Tag 3 other Steampunks and challenge them to do the same (‘challenge’ here means ‘politely enquire whether they would care to partake in this worthwhile and vaguely amusing venture’ not ‘bully, shame or cajole’ – remember that some people who would like to buy Fairtrade simply can’t afford to and this isn’t about judgement it’s about raising awareness in a fun way.)

And that’s all there is to it! Hopefully we can make a lovely chain of pinkies around the world and celebrate 20 years of good work on the part of The Fair Trade Foundation and its supporters 🙂

Hopefully Not Necessary Disclaimer:

Now before anyone decides to get shirty and remind me that Fairtrade isn’t always as ‘Fair’ as it makes out or that any form of tea growing isn’t really ethical or blah blah blah, if that is your opinion, fine, you are certainly entitled to it, possibly correct and if you can restrain yourself from consuming any amount of tea whatsoever on those grounds, or if you have discovered the world’s one and only brand of truly ‘ethical’ tea then I take my hat of to you sir, or madam, please feel free to share your wisdom politely. But otherwise, please remember that each of us can only do the small things we can do. And this is one small thing I can do. So I’m doing it. You are in no way obliged to join me but if you would like to then you are most welcome.