[Editor’s note: Bill and I both ending up writing on the same topic but from different angles (his article), so we are making this Diamond Jubilee Day on The English Tea Store Blog. Enjoy!]
Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom recently celebrated, along with millions of others, her 60th year as Queen. I add my words of congratulations to those of her fellow countrymen and others around the world. For every tea drinker, whether they care to acknowledge it or not, a debt of gratitude is owned to England. So, rather than focusing on the monarchy, I focus on tea and the Diamond Jubilee.
As a “Tea Princess” (there are many of us out there, and “Tea Prince” types as well), I grew up with the image of Cinderella marrying Prince Charming, of the Princess finding her true love in the form of a goatherd, or the wicked queen in Snow White and the good queen in Sleeping Beauty. Yes, the idea of monarchy in all its fairytale imaginings was firmly implanted in my psyche, as it is with many who grew up with these stories. So, there is a clear understanding of the interest of the world in this Diamond Jubilee celebration. Let’s add in a celebration of the British role in popularizing the consumption of tea in not only Europe and the British Isles, but throughout the British Empire on which at one time the sun never set and that included my own country, the U.S.
Britain’s Role in the History of Tea:
- The East India Company (granted a Royal Charter in 1600) starts trading for tea with China and continues its domination of the tea trade between China and Europe, the UK, India, and America for about two centuries.
- Robert Fortune (16 September 1812 – 13 April 1880), a Scotsman (Scotland was and is a part of the United Kingdom), slips some tea plants out of China and thus successfully breaks the Chinese monopoly on that crop.
- Anna Maria Russell, Duchess of Bedford (3 September 1783 – 3 July 1857), a lifelong friend to Queen Victoria and her Lady of the Bedchamber, promotes the Afternoon Tea in the mid-1840s as a way to stave off hunger pangs between lunch around noon and dinner around 7, 8, or even 9 pm (it kept getting fashionably later and later — what’s a poor duchess to do?).
- The Buckingham Palace Garden Party gets started by Queen Victoria about this same time and the craze grows. The event is still being held to this day.
In short, Britain braved the wild oceans to bring casks of tea to market, eventually succeeding so well that the price became affordable for a wider range of imbibers. Meaning folks like me who know how to squeeze a nickel. But they also created the social standing of tea — very important!
The Buckingham Palace Garden Party:
A huge annual event held on the grounds of Buckingham Palace. It is considered a HUGE honor to be invited. A special blend of tea is even created to be served there, and chefs outdo themselves to serve up an absolutely royal buffet. (See my more detailed write upon this.) Some day, maybe a certain “Tea Princess” will be invited!
A Special Tea Blend:
Harney & Sons has a great reputation among lovers of tea. So, it’s only natural to look to them for a special blend of tea to celebrate this Diamond Jubilee. Never ones to disappoint, they present this blend of earl grey with additional black teas, lemony bergamot, and grapefruit essences added for extra excitement!
5 Longest Reigning UK Monarchs [source]:
- Queen Victoria – 63 years, 7 months, and 3 days
- Queen Elizabeth II – 60 years, 3 months, and 28 days so far
- King George III – 59 years, 3 months and 5 days
- King James VI of Scotland – 57 years, 8 months and 3 days
- King Henry III of England – 56 years and 30 days
All except #5 were great imbibers of the beverage of the leaf. Now, that is something to celebrate!
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