One of the oldest Rainbow Kitchens, Tea Time serves several flavors of tea all day and all night. Usually there are seven flavors (each served out of a jug or container emblazoned with one of the letters in the name T-E-A T-I-M-E). In order to get tea, a person MUST ring the bell that hangs above the Tea Time bliss rail. The tea is served by a “tea fairy,” wearing a set of fairy wings.
Tea Fairies are expected to know each flavor of tea available, and to be prepared to serve at the ring of a bell. Tea Fairy is one of the jobs many people can do with little or no experience, so, like gathering wood or carrying water, it is one of the “easy access” ways to participate and plug in at Tea Time. Tea Fairies are often recruited by Tea Time ogres right off the trail and soon find themselves serving tea. Tea Fairies are traditionally confined to serving tea until someone forgets to “close”, or put the latch on, the bliss-rail to the kitchen. When this happens, the Tea Fairy is allowed to “escape” and the kitchen crew usually berates the person who let the fairy out.
Tea Time is a loud and raucous kitchen that can be heard from far away. Tea Timers like to yell. The most common call and response yell is “What time is it?” to which the response is always “IT’S TEA TIME!” Other yells heard include “If you can’t sleep, you’re camped too close!” and “If you can’t sleep with all the yelling, you haven’t worked hard enough today! Get a job!” Tea Timers also have vuvuzela-like plastic “tea horns” that they blast at frequent intervals. From a distance, sometimes the tea horn can be mistaken for a conch shell. The noise serves a function. Tea Time likes to set up on the far edge of a gathering, partly to avoid offending camps that are sensitive to noise, like Kid Village, partly to be away from the sound of the main drum circle, and partly to act as a “net”, catching gatherers who are lost and about to wander out of the gathering. The rationale is if you’re wandering around the gathering stoned or high or confused, you can follow the sound of the tea horn to find a kitchen and have a warm cup of hydrating tea.
Tea Time has two long standing rules. The first is no drums. The second is no politics. Tea Time ignores Council and doesn’t get involved in gathering-wide politics, preferring to be autonomous.
There are several types of tea fires, and a Tea Master is expected to know how to build all of them. Tea Master is a “rank” at Tea Time that indicates that a person is competent enough to focalize a teahouse. Tea Masters have a rigorous initiation process, including demonstrations of physical and mental stamina, being made to work for multiple days without sleep, and other “tests”. The Tea Time fire is considered the “center of the universe”, also “the hottest thing in existence”.