Resurrecting Classic Teas

As someone who spends a fair amount of time studying and writing about the history of tea I can’t help wondering occasionally about some of the teas people drank in days gone by. Wondering specifically, that is, what those teas tasted like. Of course, unless I manage to lay my hands on a time machine, there will never be any way to truly know. Even the most detailed description of what a tea from yesteryear might have tasted like isn’t sufficient to the task, given that matters of taste are so subjective.

Typhoo – putting the “oo” into the Diamond J“oo”bilee
Typhoo – putting the “oo” into the Diamond J“oo”bilee (Photo source: screen capture from site)

While a simple web search will turn up any number of “classic” tea blends, there have been several attempts lately to recreate actual tea blends that consumers from yesteryear might have recognized. Which is what the blenders at Typhoo Tea did recently, in recognition of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

The curiously named Diamond J“oo”bilee tea is a limited edition commemorative blend that pays tribute to Typhoo blends that would have been in circulation when the Queen took the throne in 1952. Although one blender was quoted as saying about this tea, “We wanted to create a blend that stayed true to the period but also suited today’s palate as there have been many changes in how we enjoy our tea over the last 60 years.”

Harney & Sons is one of many other tea firms that have also created their own version of a Diamond Jubilee blend. In this case the blend is part of their Historic Royal Palaces of England series. While they may not necessarily attempt to recreate classic teas part and parcel, the blends, as they put it, pay “homage to tea’s imperial history and roots.”

Another prominent effort in this area found a master blender doing tea forensics of a sort and trying to recreate a blend that pays tribute to the Boston Tea Party. It’s an initiative that’s tied in to the recently opened Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum, which I wrote about here. Said tea blender, Bruce Richardson, recounted his efforts to come up with the Tea Party-inspired Abigail’s Blend in an article at the museum’s web site.

See also: Tea and the Diamond Jubilee

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