March 11, 2013
You may , or may not, remember that my niece is spending a year in Beijing as part of her uni Mandarin (with Politics – she’s a clever person) degree. Well, she spent some time travelling in Yunnan province during a vacation recently. We saw lots of superb pictures of a wedding at which they were impromptu guests, forests, mountains, houses, etc. The journey took 36 hours and the darling lugged some gifts for me all the way back. She then passed them to her family visiting recently who brought them back to me.
Imagine my surprise and delight when I opened the original bag to find two further bags inside.
Yes, two wonderful cakes of tea. And I’m just dying to try them but restraining myself until I have a day off work to relax and really enjoy!
December 31, 2012
Does kindness have any place in business?
Last night I heard that lovely lady, Henrietta Lovell, interviewed about acts of kindness that helped her set up her tea company. Now, even given that I could listen to Peter Day reading the phone book, this was a really interesting programme.
Perhaps while you’re getting ready to go out to celebrate tonight or while you’re nursing a hangover tomorrow, do spare half an hour for this. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006s609 (if the link doesn’t work, search for BBC Radio 4 In Business).
It may only be available for a few days so don’t miss it. Make it your first New Year’s resolution to listen. And of course I wish you all a very happy, prosperous, tea-drinking New Year!
October 26, 2012
I make no apologies for stealing this topic from @Thedevotea because I completely agree with him.
Last week I went out walking twice. Once with my brother (see previous post) and once with a group of girls from a local organisation. (Well, mother in law always refers to her octogenarian pals as the girls, so why shouldn’t I use the same word for a mixed bunch from thirties to seventies?) The tea couldn’t have been more different.
The girls bunch adjourned to a pub, as you do, but didn’t partake of strong ales. Every single one of the nine wanted a cup of tea. It arrived beautifully presented in a tall, tapering, handled glass complete with milk jugs and matching sugar bowls. What a delight. Until I spotted the bag lurking at the bottom. They had thoughtfully put the glass onto a saucer with a long spoon to retrieve said sad sac.
It was, as expected, flavourless. Unless you count stale hay as a flavour. And no, I didn’t take a photo as it just didn’t merit that.
Were we paid to drink this? Not on your Nellie – it was £2 a glass. Two bloody quid! Of course I then launched into the virtues of good loose tea and was repaid by being told that I ought to give a talk to the whole group about this. Good point.
So why DO we put up with this in England?
October 21, 2012
Better even than a flask. Fresh tea, thanks to my brother who carried the wherewithal for 6 gruelling miles of steep slopes and claggy grey clay mud.
The view was worth the aching glutes and ankles though.
August 30, 2012
My niece has just arrived in Beijing for a year. Even though she was desperately flat-hunting, she still managed to find time to take these super photos of two tea shops. Just had to share them.
August 27, 2012
..about Mother-in-law, but she confessed last week that she hadn’t tasted coffee til she went to college.
Nothing unusual? She was brought up in Downers Grove, Illinois. Her mother was English and drank only loose leaf tea. So that was what they all had (shades of our own household there!).
Her Ma had found a travelling tea salesman, who had all sorts of tea, called Gardeners/Gardners/Gardiners. Never heard of the company – has anyone else? This would have been in the late ’20s, early 30′s.
That’s all; it just seemed unusual to find an American brought up with no coffee brewing in the house.
August 17, 2012
When I was at school I used to drop sixpences (that’s 2.5p to you youngsters) into the recesses of my desk just so I could have the fun and surprise – yes, I know, it’s amazing how someone with my brain power could forget they were there – of finding them at the end of term when I cleared out the desk.
My office desk at work gets regular spring cleaning but I also have video/audio studios in the same building which don’t get that sort of attention. The whole place is being knocked down in two years’ time so I felt it was time to make a start on a proper clear-out instead of just taking all the junk to the next place. You know how it is, I found various bits of memorabilia and so the whole thing does take time. After all, I’ve been there 24 years so there’s a fair accumulation that needed serious attention.
Other than assorted photos, some very old cologne, a couple of very mature extra strong mints and a necklace, the most interesting thing I found was this.
A 4″ tall tin from Jacksons of Piccadilly. These are an old tea firm in London and I believe they only trade online now. When I bought this, they not only had the main shop in Piccadilly, London, but also at least one out in the provinces. And that’s where I bought this. It was a lovely shop and delicatessen. In my coffee drinking and flying days (yes, I was a trolley-dolly for 12 years) I brought back several pounds of beans from St Lucia. Coming from the Caribbean, they tasted much like Jamaican Blue Mountain and Jacksons kindly roasted them for me.
Now, I moved from that town in 1985 so I’m not actually going to try the smidgeon of tea left in there. But I did Google the picture and found people are asking anything from £15 to $115 for the empty tin.
Ok, asking isn’t the same as getting, but that beats a sixpence any day!
July 23, 2012
…that London is hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games next week. The mascots are two very shifty, one-eyed scary creatures named Wenlock and Mandeville.
Where did those names come from? Stoke Mandeville is a town/hospital famous for the treatment of spinal and similar injuries. Much Wenlock is the village where the first ‘Olympian’ Games were held. Then Baron de Coubertin got to hear about it and developed the idea.
So what’s that got to do with tea? In 1851 there was a race ‘for old ladies for the prize of one pound of tea’. Can you imagine running in all that get-up? Crinolines and mob-caps everywhere I imagine. And why just old ladies, and why never repeated? And just how much was a pound of tea worth? So many questions and I’ll never know the answer.
Still, I think it would be a great idea to resurrect it. My elbows are sharpened from years of Harrods’ sales so watch out girls, here I come!
July 21, 2012
My dear mother in law recently paid a visit to her sister in the US. Intrepid she may have been in her youth, but in her 91st year she needed a little discreet assistance. British Airways did her proud on the flights but my husband went along too just to keep an eye on her and do the driving.
It was all Cousin Pat’s idea as she had recently lost her father and felt it would be great to get the oldies together for what will probably be the last time. Knowing Pat is a lover of real tea I sent along some packs from @The_Devotea for her to try. Both sides of the family are half English, half American and four o’clock tea is a ritual.
After a day or two in Chicago giving rave reviews about Two Tigers blend, the motley crew loaded up all the paraphernalia required by two elderly ladies (we won’t go too deeply into that) and set off for the family cabin in North-West Wisconsin.
Once there they settled into the serious tea tasting. Jim’s Caravan and Lord Petersham were greeted with equal enthusiasm and praise but my favourite picture is from the afternoon they tried The Duchess; sitting on the deck, looking over the lake.
That says it all. With loved ones, peace, relaxation and superb tea. What more could one ask in life?
Every tale should have a happy ending. Pat won’t be left bereft when the tea runs out. She can get further supplies from the US distributor of course!
June 30, 2012
The Gap Year is a fairly new thing in UK – well, by that I mean we didn’t have them when I left school. But I like to think of myself as a pioneer and so I had a Working Gap Six Months before university. All right, it doesn’t have the same ring to it but it was definitely a way of broadening my outlook.
You see, I lived in a small village with two buses a day. Last bus home was 7pm other than Thursdays and Saturdays. Pretty restricting for the old social life.
So when, at the age of 16, I was offered a temporary job as Junior Matron in a very expensive boarding school in London I jumped at it.
The pupils were aged 4 to 14, boys and girls, and the curriculum was progressive to say the least. My favourite day was Parents’ Day when I got to meet very well known stars of film & TV whose little darlings I looked after. There were also the offspring of ambassadors and other prominent people – who had much nicer kids, I have to admit.
One of those was a young Indian boy who always sat at my table for breakfast. We had real, proper, loose tea (no strainer though) to drink and this lad downed his cupful then proceeded to scrape out the leaves with his teaspoon and EAT them.
When I queried this, he told me it was quite normal and they were delicious.
My question is, was he pulling my leg?