Posted in Kafevend Blog

A royal cup of tea

How many of you attended an event to celebrate the Queen's official birthday over the weekend? There were plenty of events going on up and down the country, including lots of afternoon teas, which sounds like a cue for a blog!

Royal connections

Tea's very first royal connection in this country was the wife of King Charles II, Catherine of Braganza, a Portuguese princess. She arrived on Britain's shores in Portsmouth in 1662 with a wide variety of luxury goods, amongst which was a chest of tea. Although tea had already been introduced to the British Isles, it hadn't really caught on. Catherine did much to popularise it at the royal court which, in turn, set a trend further afield amongst the wealthy classes who liked to emulate the top tier of society.

Fast forward two centuries and during the 1840s Anna Maria Russell, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, came up with the idea of afternoon tea. With dinner typically served as late as 9 o'clock in the evening, the Duchess quite understandably felt the hollow rumblings of her stomach by the late afternoon. She remedied her hunger pangs with light refreshments that were brought up to her room. However, being of an outgoing and friendly nature she preferred not to eat alone and so got into the habit of inviting friends to join her. Her idea obviously caught on and so the wonderful institution of afternoon tea was born.

Royal tea

The top event of the day yesterday was a picnic on The Mall. Tickets for the event cost a whopping £150 and were allocated via a ballot system. However, participants in the royal picnic each got a picnic hamper from Marks and Spencer including a range of sandwiches and cakes that the Duchess of Bedford would no doubt have approved of!

There are plenty of mementoes on sale at the moment to mark the Queen's 90th birthday and one that particularly caught our eye is a commemorative blend of tea by Royal Warrant Holders Twinings Tea, contained in a tin specially designed for the occasion. Fittingly, the blend has been created with tea harvested in three Commonwealth countries. Let's take a closer look...

Firstly, from India comes none other than Assam , which we recently discovered is loved the world over for its malty tones and full bodied flavour. Assam tea is produced from the Camellia sinensis assamica tea plant, that is native to this region of north east India.

Secondly, there's a tea from Kenya. Tea production in Africa didn't begin until the 1900s, so countries like Kenya were able to benefit from mistakes made and knowledge gained in other parts of the world. Kenya's tea farming past stretches back to 1903 and now plays a very significant role in meeting global demand for a cuppa. Its contribution to the royal blend will be a briskness of flavour, coupled with a bright coppery tint.

The final tea in the trio has been grown in Sri Lanka and will add to the brisk full bodied cup. It's worth noting that despite Sri Lanka's small size when compared to other large tea producing areas such as India and China, it still manages to secure a place within the top five tea producing countries of the world.

And that's it; we've finished for today. Go and get yourself a nice cup of tea!


The Portuguese influence
African tea

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