British Tea: A Necessary Luxury

Is there a scene more typical of English life than that of a tea set? Charlotte Bronte captured that archetypal tableau in her 1853 novel Vilette when she describes an English tea and suggests the complex negotiation of social identity that revolved around the ritual of the tea table. “How pleasant it was in its…

Tea in a Time of War

Cafe owner pours tea in a London street.As German bombs fell on London in September 1939, the British tea industry faced a dilemma they had feared for some time. How would they protect the commodity that fueled an empire?  That fuel was tea.Lord Woolton, Minister of Food, recounted the tumultuous time: “When London was being persistently…

The Traditional British Cup of Tea Is Changing

The UK needs to nurture younger tea drinkers.The traditional English cup of tea, once considered a necessary luxury, is undergoing its biggest change since tea was first advertised for sale in London in 1657. British tea consumption has fallen from 2.5 ounces per person per week to less than an ounce. That means Britons are drinking…

The Oldest Tea in Britain

300-year-old green tea from China.British researchers have found what they believe to be the oldest tea in Britain, and to the surprise of contemporary British tea drinkers, the tea is green!The unassuming box of Chinese tea was acquired around 1700 by a ship’s surgeon James Cuninghame. Cunninghame subsequently gave it as a gift to the…

How the British love their tea!

British foods at Rose Tree Cottage, PasadenaA box of tea bags is the food item most likely to be found stashed inside the suitcases of British travelers going abroad. I found this fascinating bit of gourmet triva while reading the Daily Mail at breakfast in London a few weeks back. A survey of shoppers discovered that…

Everything Stops for Tea

The song “Everything Stops For Tea” was first performed  by Scotsman Jack Buchanan and featured in the 1935 musical film Come Out Of The Pantry, which was set in New York.In Great Britain, everything did stop for tea throughout the first half of the 1900s as British workers took their tea break. By 1900, tea…

Who Was Earl Grey?

Earl GreyI ask people daily to name their favorite tea. Nearly 20 percent respond with "Earl Grey" or a derivative thereof - Lady Grey, Earl Grey Lavender, etc. It is after all the world’s favorite flavored tea. But who was Earl Grey? The revered tea was named after Charles, the 2nd Earl Grey (1764–1845) who…