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April 02, 2015

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Royal-Tea: The Tea Party

There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour devoted to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.

  • Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady

http://explorebuxtonderbyshire.co.uk/buxtons-best-afternoon-teas/the-goring-afternoon-tea-1024x681/The Tea Party is not just a Canadian indie rock band from the 90s who will be playing BluesFest this year ... It is also one of my favourite British customs. In 18th and 19th century England, people normally ate only two main meals a day, which consisted of a large breakfast and an even larger diner. At some point in the early 1800s, Anna, the seventh duchess of Bedford, experienced a “sinking feeling” in between these two meals. So, she decided to start eating small snacks and drinking tea at around 3 pm to tide her over until dinner. Other upper-class socialites began to adopt this practice and invited their friends to come for “Afternoon Tea,” too. With a focus on conversation and presentation, Afternoon Tea became quite different from the practice of High Tea, which was actually popular amongst the British working class. High Tea was served around 6 pm when industrial workers came home for dinner. In comparison to the dainty finger foods consumed at Afternoon Tea, meat, bread and butter, cheese, pickles and of course, tea, filled the workers' bellies at High Tea. This tradition get's its name from the dining tables where workers ate and drank, which were significantly higher than the low tables used for Afternoon Tea by the royals.

 

With the rise in popularity of tea in Britain, tea parties and tea events quickly spread throughout the social classes and were attended by all ages. London's Pleasure gardens hosted “tea dances,” which featured light dancing and casual conversation. Once Britons were introduced to the Tango from Argentina, the Tea Tango turned tea dances into wild, sexy parties (by British standards). And in America, perhaps the most famous tea party was the one held on December 16, 1773. ... Okay, you caught me. The Boston Tea Party wasn't exactly the same as the Tango Dances held in Britain, but it did turn the Boston Harbour into a giant tea pot! (More on that story next week!)  

 

Although with the popularization of the tea bag, the number of tea parties has declined, the recent renaissance of gourmet tea has rejuvenated the tea party tradition. In Ottawa alone there are multiple tearooms where you and your friends can share a pot of afternoon tea together like true royal-tea. Now, at Monopolatte, you can enjoy good conversation in a relaxed atmosphere with a cup of your favourite Tealee blend! Want to add a game to the party? Just order the “Mystery Tea” option and use your taste buds to see if you can guess which of our blends is featured. You too can enjoy a pot of afternoon tea like the Royals!         

 Sources: http://www.teamuse.com/article_050801.html
http://www.teavana.com/tea-info/tea-party-history-etiquette
http://www.victorianbazaar.com/tea.html
http://explorebuxtonderbyshire.co.uk/buxtons-best-afternoon-teas/the-goring-afternoon-tea-1024x681/ 

 

Winner! Thank you to everyone who participated in last weeks contest and congratulations to Erin on winning a free tin of any Tealee rooibos blend.


Carolyn Hebert

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