Australian Tea Ceremony: Bush Billy Tea

Many cultures have their own unique and interesting tea ceremonies. Some may not consider Australian “billy tea” as a tea ceremony at first however it has many of the elements of a ceremony and many Aussies are very proud of this tradition.

Billy tea was developed by the early Australian settlers and is based in the Australian bushland out in the open. Many historians agree that the term “billy” probably came from the corned beef, bouilli or “bully cans” that were recycled by the settlers and used as tea pots on open fires. The loose tea leaves were put directly into the metallic can together with a gum (eucalyptus) leaf for extra flavor.

The billy can is left to simmer on the open fire for a few minutes. It is removed and the boiling tea is swung around in a circle, 3 times, by the handle to use the centrifugal force to push the leaves down to the base of the can. The tea is then poured out into cups for everyone to enjoy as a black tea.

The famous Australian poet, Henry Lawson often included billy tea in his works and billy tea has come to represent the free Australian spirit and bushland. In the famous poem Waltzing Matilda, the original version opens with the verse “and he sang as he looked at the old billy boiling”.

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