Posts Tagged ‘price & kensington tea pot’

The Intricacies of British Tea Time

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

Price & Kensington's Cobalt Teapot

In honor of January, America’s “National Hot Tea Month,” we at Pacific Merchants would like to take an opportunity to educate our readers with a little history lesson centered around the background of England’s love affair with “tea time.”

Before the British began taking ‘tea’ in the afternoon, they really had only two meals daily- breakfast and a very heavy dinner. While we in America often refer to an afternoon teatime as “high tea,” that is actually an incorrect usage of the term. High tea, also known as “meat tea,” is actually dinner. An afternoon tea is widely known as “low tea,” due to the fact that it is often served in a sitting room, around low tables (tables that most people would call coffee tables).

Tea can be served in three different sizes- the lightest meal being “cream tea,” which includes tea and scones, “light tea,” which offers just a little more with tea, scones, and sweets, and “full tea,” which is essentially an entire meal and includes tea, savories (little sandwiches or appetizers), scones, and sweets.

A few historical events contributed largely to the development of tea culture within England. First, in 1600, Queen Elizabeth the First granted permission to the John Company to develop trade routes with India, the Far East, and Asia. Although tea trade didn’t become very large until 1670, it was the development of these trade routes that eventually helped build up England’s consumption of tea.

Secondly, in 1662 King Charles the II married Infanta Catherine de Braganza. While most modern people may not know this, Catherine came with the largest dowry on record, giving King Charles (and England) posession of Tangiers, Morocco, and Bombay, as well as use of all Portuguese ports worldwide. Use of the Portuguese ports opened up England’s trading abilities unlike ever before.

It also didn’t hurt that both Charles and Catherine were tea lovers; bringing this “foreign” tradition to England had a direct effect on the upper classes, as everyone strived to be as much like royalty as possible.

When Queen Anne chose tea as her breakfast accompaniment (rather than ale), the public took notice, again causing interest in tea to skyrocket. The creation of an afternoon tea time, however, would be credited to one of Queen Anne’s ladies-in-waiting, Anna Maria Stanhope. Stanhope, the Duchess of Bedford, began taking tea in the afternoon (around four o’clock) as she had experienced a “sinking feeling” in her stomach. Initially, she had her servants sneak a pot of tea along with small amounts of food to her, but over time, she began to invite friends to partake in this very “European” approach to tea.

Over time, this afternoon tea time would become a well-loved custom, one that still stands to this date with many Brits. Pacific Merchants’ Price & Kensington line of Tea Pots, tea (and coffee) mugs and cups, and other tea accessories are the perfect addition to any tea time– morning or afternoon. Stop by our e-store and check it out for yourself!

Learn About Tea with Price & Kensington

Friday, November 19th, 2010

Get ready for your next tea party!

Most people don’t know their pekoe from their earl grey—the average person just knows their opinion of hot tea. If you’ve never found the tea that floats your boat, but would like to give it a try, take a trip with Price & Kensington and Pacific Merchants and learn what you need to know in order to find the right tea for your teapot!

Tea is made from the dried processed leaves of camellia sinensis. Chinese teas are smaller leaves that tend to grow at higher altitudes, while Indian teas usually have larger leaves and grow at lower altitudes. There are four types of tea: black, white, green, and oolong, and they differ due to the techniques used in processing.

White teas, the latest trend in tea, are not oxidized during production, so they are fired as quickly as possible in order to prevent the opportunity for oxidization. These leaves are not rolled, broken, or bruised in order to ensure a premium product, and often times you will still find tiny silver hairs of new growth present on the buds, which has led to them being dubbed “silver needle” teas. A 2004 study found that white tea can help your immune system and it is also purported that white tea has the highest amount of antioxidants of any tea variety, giving it the highest cancer-fighting power.

Black teas are leaves that are fully oxidized. Typically, these leaves are rolled and left out for up to a day in order to allow all of the moisture from within the leaves to evaporate. Often, the most caffeine is found within black teas. Black teas are known for their power in preventing strokes as they help promote high-functioning arteries, as well as their excellent anti-inflammatory properties.

Green tea leaves are not allowed to oxidize, much like white teas. The leaves are often laid out to allow for evaporation, but are then immediately steamed or pan fried in order to neutralize enzymes. The leaves are then rolled in preparation for their final drying, and then packaged. Green tea is high in antioxidants and has been found to lower LDL cholesterol levels. Additionally, green tea has been found to aid in weight loss in many studies.

Finally, oolong tea is a bruised leaf that is partially oxidized, and then steamed in order to end the oxidization process and neutralize enzymes. Some oolong teas are more like black teas, while some are more toward a green tea. Oxidization rates range from 10-70%. Some of the noted benefits of oolong tea include possible reduction in cholesterol and many people have claimed that it aids in treating digestive disorders.

No matter what type of tea you choose, or what benefits you are seeking to receive from your tea (even if it’s just a moment of relaxation), Pacific Merchants has a full variety of teapots, tea sets, and tea cups perfect for any occasion. Whether you’re having a spot of tea by yourself, or having a full-fledged tea party, take a look at Pacific Merchants wide selection of traditional Price & Kensington tea items.


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