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'Tea party' steeped in confusion

March 12, 2010 |  6:05 am

Tea Reporting from Chicago - During a trip to China in 2006, Tony Gebely fell in love with tea, both the drink and the ceremony of enjoying a calm cup.

He launched an online tea business this month, but he is having a little trouble ensuring that chicagoteagarden.com gets noticed.

"When I look at search engine results for 'Chicago tea,' I find a whole bunch of Chicago 'tea party' movement sites," Gebely said. "There are a few tea places and then all this political stuff. It's pretty annoying."

Purveyors of fine tea and tea enthusiasts in general find themselves steeped in a linguistic shift, their beloved beverage now associated with a conservative political movement routinely praised or pilloried on talk radio and cable news shows.

The tea party movement's name, a reference to the tax protests that led to the Revolutionary War and an acronym for Taxed Enough Already, really has nothing to do with tea. But that doesn't seem to matter.

"I certainly can see and have seen some confusion with regard to the name they've chosen for their movement," said Dan Robertson, owner of the Tea House in Naperville, Ill., a major tea distributor. "When I first heard about it, I thought, 'Oh, maybe I can sell them some tea.' Then I realized that probably wasn't going to happen." Read more here:

Photo credit: Tony Gebely pours an oolong tea during a party at his Chicago apartment. Gebely launched an online tea business, but he is finding it hard to direct Web traffic to his site because search engines have become so cluttered with Tea Party movement sites. Brian Cassella / Chicago Tribune