Tea takes a wide-ranging and fast moving survey of the influences of tea and associated social traditions in New Zealand from frontier times to the present day. Tea drinking customs in China, Japan, England, Scotland, Holland and Italy provide useful context, but the focus is on the development of a 'tea culture' in New Zealand. The material is arranged thematically and begins with an examination of the 'tea tree' of Maori, Captain Cook and whalers, and tea in early New Zealand settlements. It romps through tea gardens and heritage tea rooms, takes tea with the Queen and the Temperance movement, reveals tea as a murder weapon, a subject for Parliamentary scandal and a party theme for chimpanzees. Tea-leaf reading, tea growing and railway refreshments all come under scrutiny along with the country's fondness for tea paraphernalia including that invaluable New Zealand invention - the thermette. Linking all are historic photos, an intriguing collection of afternoon tea recipes including Blue Bath Lemon Tarts and Railway Cake, and a series of contemporary handmade teapot designs.