Volume: Making Music in Aotearoa deep dive – Tea on acid

A 1960s psychedelic poster featuring local musicians selling tea to teens? WTF? Henry Oliver investigates.

In the late-sixties, young people everywhere were tuning in or dropping out, and dropping tabs, but apparently not drinking tea. Okay sure, the extent to which teenagers of the era were wandering the streets tripping balls are over exaggerated by the prism of history. But still, the New Zealand Tea Council was obviously so concerned about losing out on the youth market, they created a series of posters featuring young musicians to get the young and the hip get back to boiling the pot instead of smoking it (I am so sorry).

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This poster of Shane Hales (of the wonderfully-named band Shane) on display at Volume: Making Music in Aotearoa is one of three (including The Chicks and Revival) made by the Tea Council to promote the sweet leaf to cool youngsters.

“SHANE cools it with Tea” the poster reads. Could it get any cooler? Read on: “During gruelling recording sessions, after state shows and personal appearances Shane comes back on the bounce with the total taste of clean, fresh tea.”

Shane’s favourite? St Pauls Iced Tea, made by taking a cup-and-a-half of tea and pouring over ice with sugar, lemon, a sprig of mint and a drop of vanilla essence. “Simple as one, two, tea.”

Similar posters were also made featuring the Revival and The Chicks. Revival like their tea “hot, sweet and perky” by adding a pinch or two of cinnamon: “Wowwee!” The Chicks like hot or iced, but with lemon, giving it “a bit of the old zzapp”.

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The posters were for sale to the public and all proceeds went to the Surf Life Saving Association. And in addition to the posters, the Tea Council sponsored Tea Tunes, a weekly nationally syndicated radio show, and a ‘Cool it with Tea’ page in the Woman’s Weekly. Not only that, they sponsored The Brew (which featured recently re-discovered New Zealand guitarist Doug Jerebine) to record a version of the hit show tune ‘Tea for Two’. These tea people really knew how to sponsor some content.

“Turn on to tea.”


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