Reflecting on the day serenely with a cup of tea in hand is a great way to spend an evening, but that isn’t always what we’re looking for. Sometimes a little more excitement is needed. One of my favorite pastimes is board gaming, and the social elements of tea and games mesh together incredibly well (socializing, introducing guests to new experiences, food, etc.). One way to make it even better? Play a board game about tea!
Modern board games (sometimes called “hobby games” or “designer board games”) are much more diverse than the local Target or Wal-Mart give them credit for, and board game themes can range anywhere from a simple “Uno”-style numbers-and-colors card game to battling Lovecraftian monsters to curing diseases to even wild west shootouts. One of my favorite games is literally about waiting in line. But did you know that board games about tea are a niche within the niche of board gaming? Here are three you should check out next time you need a bit more pizzazz at your next tea gathering.
Elevenses, designed by David Harding and published by Grail Games, is a game about having the best morning tea service. You will be playing tea, cakes, silverware, and more to your “tablecloth” to make a better spread than your opponents. Each card also has a special ability that will allow you to rearrange cards to maximize your score, or to hinder your opponents. It even comes with wooden “sugar” cubes! There is also a solitaire version of the game for those of use who like a tea party for one. The solitaire version is also an app for Android and iOS. Pair this game with an Earl Grey for sure!
Matcha, another game by Grail Games, and also designed by David Harding, this time revolving around matcha. This is a set collection game in which you need to get all of the necessary tools to make your perfect cup of matcha. Play your cards secretly in front of your opponent, and then you both simultaneously reveal your cards, either helping you or hindering your opponent. This is a bluffing game about trying to fake out your opponent and getting them to play the wrong card. Quick and strategic, and the art is very pretty. Pair this game with–what else?–a cup of matcha. And the loser has to make the victor that cup of matcha!
This one is my personal favorite. This game, designed by Aaron Haag and published by Argentum Verlag, has the players take the role of tea traders, attempting to expand their tea dynasty all along the Tea-Horse-Road and become the best tea merchants in Yunnan. Players will be bidding on resources in cutthroat auctions, pushing their workers further along the map to collect more tea, building teahouses, and even bribing the tea inspector with your political influence to shut down the other traders. This is definitely a harder game with a lot of strategy and some “take that”-style mechanisms. If you are a fan of strategy games, this is not one to miss. Pair this game with a smooth pu-erh.
Okay, so maybe that last game doesn’t sound like the relaxing afternoon with a cup of tea you were hoping for–but if you’re looking for something new to try and don’t mind flexing your gray matter while drinking a beverage that can boost that gray matter, check out some of these tea-themed games.