Add this to the list of things science can’t explain, like the Taos hum or Naga fireballs. I’m an insurance adjuster. We’re a jaded, thick-skinned lot, and no matter what names you call us or legal action you threaten, we get all our crying done the first month on the job. We chomp animal crackers while we crunch numbers, and hold Dum Dum suckers in our cheeks like Kojak, white stick hanging from lips all day long. Sometimes we make you listen to You Can’t Always Get What You Want on the Muzak while you wait on hold for us to decide your economic fate. We take our coffee thick and dark, the most hardcore among us chain smoking between cases of Diet Coke or bourbon at our desks.
We often asked why ‘Chateau Rouge’ and why French tea sold in England? Well the answer is really simple, besides being in love with both Paris and London, finding it impossible to have to live in only one or the other, and creating a brand that enables us to have both. The real question you may be asking is, if England is known the world over for it’s love of tea and in many ways for creating the ‘afternoon tea’ tradition, then how does France fit into the picture and do they really drink tea in France?
It all came about due to the social dynamics of society and the idea that women should be primarily based in the home place at the time. Women were only allowed in teashops and tea gardens if accompanied by a male companion – a real luxury! A lady was considered too vulnerable to be allowed to venture into the world alone and as a result they had to entertain in private or be escorted by a male companion. Read the rest of this entry »
Tea for two…
Last week I found myself sat in the glorious Plaza Athenee Hotel in Paris (on Avenue Montaigne, near the Champs Elysees) catching up with an old friend – and missing London of course… When the waitress came over (a young, elegant looking French woman), we both ordered a cup of tea – a fine loose-leaf tea from Darjeeling India.
Lorraine was not feeling well this afternoon and had to entertain two of her lady friends who came over for afternoon tea. Being the ‘house of Chateau Rouge’ they asked for the best teas possible, which lead into a discussion of all the options available…and guess what…they chose Earl Grey. Not such a masculine tea after all, must be the flowers!
Afternoon tea is back in fashion and hotels across London regularly have queues running down the street for afternoon tea. With prices ranging from £15 to as much as£ 80 at the Ritz Carlton, afternoon tea is not cheap. But then again, it never was intended for the working classes! So where did the tradition of afternoon tea first come from, and what does it mean? We have the 7th Duchess of Bedford to thank for creating the tradition of afternoon tea.
In the early nineteenth century tea was very popular and tea consumption in the UK was increasing dramatically, much like today tea was being discovered as not only a thirst quencher but as a way to get through the afternoon and avoid that sinking feeling mid-afternoon.
The Duchess of Bedford, Anna, is said to have complained of “having that sinking feeling” during the late afternoon. At that stage, in the early nineteenthcentury, it was then normal for people to have only two meals a day, breakfast and dinner in the evening. The Duchess decided a good solution was to have a pot of black tea with milk and a light snack late afternoon. She used to have afternoon tea privately in her boudoir, but soon friends were invited to join her in her in her rooms at Woburn Abbey for tea. This summer practice proved so popular that when she returned to London in the autumn, she continued to invite friends, sending them cards asking them to join her for “tea and a walking the fields.” Other social hostesses in London quickly picked up on the idea and the practice became respectable enough to move it into the drawing rooms across the country. Before long all of fashionable society was sipping tea and nibbling sandwiches in the middle of the afternoon.
Traditionally, the upper classes would serve a ‘low’ or ‘afternoon’ tea around four o’clock, just before the fashionable promenade in Hyde Park. The middle and lower classes would have a more substantial ‘high’ tea later in the day, at five or six o’clock, in place of a late dinner. The names derive from the height of the tables on which the meals are served, high tea being served at the dinner table.
And that is the story of how afternoon tea came into fashion and how it has shaped over 200 years of English tradition. So if you one of an estimated 2 billion people watching the Royal wedding, between Prince William and Kate Middleton on the 29 April 2011, to celebrate why not partake in a very British tradition, celebrate withafternoon tea or high tea (it’s a special occasion). To make it even more special why not treat yourself with a Sikkim Temi from India, a colonial gem and tea fit for a king and queen.
Château Rouge Teas, purveyors of fine, premium, specialist and luxury leaf teas that are sourced from around the world. Chateau Rouge Luxury Teas Ltd, Coppergate House, 16 Brune St, London E1 7NJ, England. Company No.5489120
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George Orwell once published an essay about tea. The Nineteen Eighty Four novelist wrote a piece entitled ‘A Nice Cup of Tea’ for the Evening Standard published in January 1946 where he notes that the older we get the stronger we desire our tea and that the addition of sugar is simply a taste killer!
‘How can you call yourself a true tea lover if you destroy the flavour of your tea by putting sugar in it?’ He preached. ‘It would be equally reasonable to put in pepper or salt. Tea is meant to be bitter, just as beer is meant to be bitter.’
Strong words indeed but in many ways this essay reflects the cultural importance of tea drinking in England. The saying goes: Without tea Britain wouldn’t have won the Second World War!
Our tea drinking ways have clearly evolved drastically from Orwell’s time – and even more so from when a tea bag replaced the fine art of tea making. But interestingly enough the first British tea drinkers got their tea from China and that would have been some variation on the green tea that is so popular now and sold at Château Rouge.
Orwell writes: ‘Tea is one of the main stays of civilisation in this country.’ He then adds: ‘The best manner of making it is the subject of violent disputes’. The writer then jots down eleven golden rules for making the perfect cup of tea! He goes into intense detail and although the points he makes are pretty dated they still are an insightful, if not purely amusing read.
Later the black tea leafs of India and Ceylon took over from the Chinese green tea imports, although it is said the likes of Oscar Wild and his literary and artistic crowd continued to favoured the more delicate green tea as sold in Château Rouge.
Tea has so many medicinal and health properties, but not many of us are aware of its peace making qualities! The legend has it that back in the Edo period (1603-1868), Japan’s valiant samurai warriors took refuge from their daily warfare in tea ceremonies.
They would disarm at the gate of the Chashitsu tea rooms, laying down their swords, thus entering these peaceful courtyards for a brief respite. There was almost a hidden code that separated a turbulent life from harmony once you stepped beyond the gates of these tranquil buildings.