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Tea, Men & Romance

Let’s talk about Men!

A friend of mine had a tea party a while back and the husband of one of the guests came early to pick her up. And he was invited in and promptly the ladies started serving him tea and gave him some cookies and cakes, and put a napkin on his lap. He was chatting and had a great time and then left with his wife.

If I told that same story a hundred or a hundred & fifty years ago people would be outraged. Women would have said how low have we come?… Women never serve men at any public or social function, men serve women.

In the Victorian and Edwardian eras – that is, from 1837 right through to 1910, (the end of the Edwardian era), the idea of men sort of sitting around at any party or social gathering and not constantly serving women would be unthinkable. A man’s character and social class was measured by his gallant treatment of women. Men were frequently invited to ladies afternoon teas and here’s why: Here’s a quote from an 1897 etiquette book for men.

Manners for Men – by Mrs. Humphry 1897
Gentlemen are in great request at 5 o’clock tea. Their duties are rather onerous if there are but one or two men and the usual crowd of ladies. They have to carry teacups about; hand sugar, cream and cakes or muffins, and keep up all the time a stream of small talk, as amusing as they can make it. They must rise every time a lady enters or leaves the room, opening the door for her exit if no one else is nearer to do it, and, if the hostess requests them, they must see the lady downstairs to her carriage or cab. With regards to the viands, a man helps himself, but not until he has seen that all the ladies in his vicinity have everything they could possibly want.

At any kind of social function, men always served women. For example at a dinner party, after the dinner was over, the ladies would rise to leave the dining room. The men sitting closest to the door would rise with the women, open the door for them, and remain standing at the door until all the women had left to go to the drawing room. Now, the servants would usually serve tea in the drawing room after dinner, and again, just as in afternoon teas, it would be the men’s job to take the empty tea cups from the women.

At a ball a woman would give her trusted man, like her brother or father, her gloves, fan, evening purse, and flowers to hold when she wanted to dance. Today, men would feel this was unmasculine, but Victorian and Edwardian men were honoured to be a woman’s most humble servant. 

Interestingly, the Victorian and Edwardian eras were extremely patriarchial. Women couldn’t vote until 1918 and 1920 in the U.S. A married woman could not own property. Married women were not allowed to make a will. A woman could not enter into a business contract without her husbands approval. A married woman who worked outside the home was not allowed to keep her earnings; her wages became the husband’s property. In short, a husband had the right to everything that was his wife’s, but she had no right to anything that was his.

Single women or “spinsters and old maids”, as they were called at the time, actually did have the right to own their earnings, widowed woman could also inherit property. In general, however unmarried women were looked down on, and had difficulty making ends meet unless they came from a wealthy family.

Here we have an extremely patriarchial society in which men are taught that real masculinity lies in worshipping and serving women. The truth was that Victorian and Edwardian men really did adore women, and they felt that having a patriarchial society would protect them. 

Men were so delicate and refined during the Victorian era that they would walk backwards when retreating from a room so as not to turn their backs on the ladies who remained. Men were required to bow slightly and lift their hats if they met a woman they knew on the street. Men were never allowed to push their attentions upon women unless the lady gave an invitation of some sort – through a card or mutual acquaintance.

Men always stood up when a lady entered or left the room. If a man was smoking when a woman walked by he would have to remove the cigar from his mouth. When dancing with a woman, men always wore gloves so that his sweat would not touch her hand or dress. 

Men who didn’t respect women were actually more frightened of other men…Rudeness, especially to a lady, was the kiss of death in Victorian society. A rude man would get “the big chill” from other men. He would be ostracized from social activities; from the sacred men’s clubs and other men might even refuse to do business with him.

Interestingly, in an 1891 issue of the Ladies Home Journal magazine, women were asked to predict what life would be like for women in the year 2000. They said they were happy that our sisters in the future will probably have freedom, rights and independence, however they said we also fear for our sisters of the future. Victorian women predicted that feminism and women’s independence by the year 2000 might lead to a sexual revolution. They predicted that if women were promiscuous without marriage or any promise of solid commitment, men would no longer respect them and chivalrous behaviour would be unfamiliar to us. A very interesting prediction!

Dedicated to Orli Kohn…



History of Tea

 

Part 4 of 4

Afternoon teas could be very simple events or more elaborate ones used to introduce debutants to society or to honour special guests. The more elaborate teas were often called “at homes” and could take place in the evenings.  There would be maids and footmen to help guests out of their carriages, and tons of food and drinks, including champagne as well as tea, bullion and hot chocolate. Musicians would also complete the event.

Now the only problem left to deal with was “how could a Victorian lady truly relax with her tea when she couldn’t breathe?” Victorian women often had difficulty breathing and fainted often because their waists were squeezed into a tiny 18 inches by a whalebone, wire, sometimes steel ribbed corset. Also Victorian Women could wear up to 37 pounds of clothing – up to 19 lbs suspended from the waist alone. On top of the corset problem, there was the problem of sitting down with a bustle. Bustles were made of wire mesh and springs, and they wouldn’t allow a women to sit back in their chair so they had to balance themselves on the edge. In fact in the late 1870′s bustles became so large that they were called tea tray bustles (because they were large enough to hold a tea setting).

In the 1880′s, the Dress Reform Society in England came to the rescue by introducing “tea gowns”. These very loose, flowing gowns, almost like negligees were made of chiffon, lace, velvet, satin or silk, and were very ornate – trimmed with beads, jewels, feathers, furs or ribbons. Many “tea gowns” had matching jackets. They were usually worn in the home, or if you were visiting friends in their country house. The comfortable tea gowns, however were not worn to public functions or formal teas.

When Queen Victoria’s son, King Edward the seventh, took the throne (1901 – 1910), tea gowns became even more lavish and high society went all out with teas. Evening tea parties had footmen, hot dishes, professional musicians, and ornate silver tea pots on swivel stands. The Edwardian era was a very lavish and joyful time. People emulated the extravagant ways of the king.

LOW TEA – also called afternoon tea is the most elegant of teas, served between 4 and 5 o’clock. This was the tea of wealthy aristocrats and features dainty finger sandwiches, scones with Devonshire or clotted cream and jam, and also a variety of tarts and pastries. Sometimes fresh fruit is also served. Low teas are called “low” because it was taken in the sitting or “withdrawing” room where low tables (like a coffee table) were placed near sofas. In a traditional low tea, all food must be dry to the touch as Victorians wore hats (some with veils) and gloves to these events. The gloves would be left on while eating, especially at outdoor garden teas, so food was prepared neatly so as not to get the gloves dirty.

HIGH TEA – also called a “Meat Tea” was traditionally the tea of the middle and lower classes. During the second half of the Victorian Period, known as the industrial revolution, working families would come home tired and hungry. High tea was served at 6 o’clock at the end of the workday, and is basically a large, heavy supper with several courses – meats, eggs, cheese, fish, vegetables, sandwiches and tea. Despite its name there is nothing elegant about high tea. It was the main meal of the day and is still a tradition in English, Welsh and Scottish farming regions.

 So there you have the basic history of tea… After almost 5,000 years of tea drinking, we’re still discovering new varieties, new flavours, and the wonderful health benefits of this drink.

Join us for our Musical Twilight Tea with musical guest Rosalee Peppard. Her music is steeped in the sea, as she brings the rich maritime past to life in song.



History of Tea

 

Part 3

In the 1820′s, the British East India Company began large scale production of tea in India, and by the 1850′s the British learned how to commercially cultivate tea plants. It took the British several decades to learn how to grow and produce various types of Indian tea like Assam and Darjeeling. By 1875, the British had the knowledge to produce tea on their own island colony of Ceylon, Sri Lanka. In 1878, tea was cultivated in Indonesia by the Dutch and by the turn of the Century…early 1900′s, tea was also being cultivated in parts of Africa, like Kenya. The English and the Dutch managed to crumble China’s world tea dominance.

In 1904 St. Louis World’s fair, ice tea became all the rage. One plantation owner decided to dump a load of ice into his hot tea because the weather was so warm, no one was buying the hot tea.  Ice tea was consumed in the 1800′s in tea and liquour punch cocktails but iced tea alone took off in popularity in the early 1900′s.

In 1908, the first teabags were invented.

Starting in the late 1880′s, fine hotels in America and England began to offer tea service in Tea Rooms and Tea Courts. Victorian ladies and gentlemen would meet in the late afternoon for tea and conversation.  By 1910 fashionable hotels began to host afternoon Tea Dances. Tea Dances were very popular with singles and they were considered a very respectable way for singles to meet. The Tango became all the rage in 1910, and tea and tango became connected.

The London Ritz was the first hotel where young women were allowed to go alone to tea without a chaperone. Romance writer Barbara Cartland said that in the years following World War One, tea at the London Ritz was a great way to meet single men. “You’d have a long lunch with men you liked, a short tea with the rest,” she said. The editor of Vogue Magazine once fired a large number of female secretaries for “wasting too much time at the tea dances.” in the 1920′s.

 

 to be continued….

Join us for our traditional high tea and enjoy a cup of your favourite tea!



History of Tea

 

Part 2

Tea first arrived in Paris in 1636 and a famous gossip and letter writer, Madame de Sevigne wrote about a friend of hers who was tired of breaking her precious tea ware due to the heat of the water, and one day added cold milk prior to the tea. The dishes did not break and the addition of milk to tea was born.

Interestingly, Great Britain, known as a tea-loving nation, was not familiar with tea until about 1652. As in Holland, the royal family had to provide the stamp of approval for tea to gain nationwide acceptance. In 1662, King Charles 11 married the Portuguese Princess Catherine of Braganza. Princess Catherine was said to be a tea addict and she brought a large tea chest as part of her dowry. Her influence made tea the beverage of choice in English high society. Tea became very popular, but it was extremely expensive so tea leaves were kept in a locked caddy. Tea was locked in a caddy throughout Victorian times as well, so the servants couldn’t steal it. (By the way, in Victorian times, once the masters of the house drank the first brew, the servants would make tea for themselves from the used leaves and then sell the twice used leaves at the back door to vendors.) The vendors would press the used leaves into tea cakes.  They would sell these cakes to people who could only afford to spend a penny or two for the tea, and that’s where the phrase “Tea for two” came from…the cost was “tea for two pence”.

Tea Gardens became popular with the English in the 1600′s. They took the idea from the Dutch tavern garden teas and embellished it. Ladies and Gentlemen would take their tea outdoors and were entertained by orchestras, flowered walkways, concerts, games, fireworks, etc. The Tea Gardens were the first time that women could mix freely with men and with all social classes. Tipping for good service started in the English Tea Gardens. Locked wooden boxes were placed on the Garden Tables. Inscribed on the boxes were the letters T.I.P.S – TO INSURE PROMPT SERVICE. Customers would drop a coin into the box to insure that the waiters hurried to bring the tea hot from the distant kitchen.

Since tea was so popular in Britain, the government decided to profit by putting heavy taxes on tea, up to 119% Unfortunately, this backfired because it created a huge organized smuggling industry in the 18th century. Millions of pounds of tea were smuggled into Britain and obviously there was no quality control so a lot of the tea was adulterated. Leaves from other plants or used tea leaves were added to fresh tea leaves. Sometimes the colour was not convincing enough so anything from sheep’s dung to poisonous copper carbonate was added to make it look more like tea.

In 1784, the government dramatically lowered tea taxes which ended the smuggling. 

Several wars were started because of tea. By the mid-1700′s tea was so expensive and so popular in Britain that importing tea from China was creating a burden on the currency reserves in England. Since India was a British Colony, opium from India was smuggled into China by British Merchants to help pay for the tea exports to Britain. When the Chinese destroyed the opium, it started the opium wars between Britain and China. Britain won these wars and this lead to the Chinese opening more ports to trade tea with the world.

Tea didn’t come to America until 1690. Tea Gardens opened in New York City, and by 1720, the tea trade was based in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. In the U.S., tea made history when there was a fight over the high taxes levied on British tea after England’s French and Indian war. In 1773, a group of radicals disguised as Indians dumped hundreds of pounds of British tea into the Boston Harbour to protest high taxes. This was known as the Boston Tea Party, and eventually led to the American Revolution and American Independence.

In the 1800′s, Tea Plantations sprung up in the American south and America became the biggest importer of tea due to the faster clipper ships and the ability to pay its debts in gold.

 to be continued….

Join us for our traditional high tea and enjoy a cup of your favourite tea!



History of Tea

 

Part 1 

Tea is the second most consumed drink in the world after water.
The history of tea is long and convoluted, starting in China and working its way around the world causing revolutions in taste, lifestyle and politics.The discovery of tea actually influenced world history.

So where did tea originate? Who discovered tea? The honest answer is no one knows for sure. The most popular legend, however, takes us back to the year 2737 B.C. Chinese Emperor Shen Nung was a gifted herbalist and scientist. He was smart enough to insist that all drinking water be boiled for the sake of hygiene. One day, the Emperor and his servants stopped to rest and boil some water when they were out for a walk. Some dried leaves from a nearby tea bush blew into the water and the water turned brown. The emperor tasted the water, for scientific purposes, and exclaimed, “This is delicious”. According to legend, this is how tea was born.

Tea consumption spread throughout China and by the time of the Tang Dynasty (618-906 AD), tea was the national drink in China. In 780 AD, a famous Chinese scholar by the name of Lu Yu wrote the first definitive book on tea called the Cha Ching. He wrote about tea cultivation and preparation in ancient China.

Interestingly, even at that early time, additives were added to tea to create different flavours.  The ancient Chinese added, ginger, orange peel or peppermint as flavourings. It was also a custom to boil tea with onions. Lu Yu recommended that people always add salt to their tea, which we would consider strange today. Lu Yu also said that tea should always be consumed in an atmosphere of tranquility, so you shouldn’t make tea when you’re fighting with someone.

With the advent of Lu Yu’s book, tea became extremely popular in China and in 800 AD; tea began to be commercially cultivated.

In 1191, a Zen Buddhist missionary – Priest Yeisei, bought tea seeds from China to Japan, and he thought that the preparation of tea would enhance religious meditation. So tea in Japan instantly got approval from the royal family and monasteries, and spread throughout Japanese society. In Japan, the preparation of tea was elevated to an art form. The “Japanese Tea Ceremony” actually originated in China, but it died out there and was continued in Japan. It actually takes years to master the Tea Ceremony which is very complicated. Later, tea houses in which Japanese Hostesses, “the geisha” practiced the tea ceremony became very popular.

Another missionary, a Portuguese Jesuit Priest was the first European to try tea and he brought it back to Lisbon in 1560. It was the Portuguese and Dutch traders who first imported tea to Europe. In 1602 the Dutch East India Trading Company was formed and by 1610, regular shipments were going to France, Holland, and the Baltic countries.

Tea first came to Russia in 1618 when the Chinese embassy presented tea to the Czar. The Czar refused it as being a useless beverage, nevertheless tea eventually grew popular in Russia. In the late 1600′s, caravan trading began between China & Russia. Russians would trade their furs for Chinese tea. The horse and camel caravan journey took about a year and it was here that tea would be infused at night with smoke from the camp fires – so smoky teas like Lapsang Souchong and Russian Caravan were born. They are very strong teas with a strong smoke fragrance and flavours.

Tea became very fashionable in Holland, but because it was terribly expensive – over $100 per pound in the early 1600′s – it was only available to the wealthy. By 1675, the prices came down a bit, but it was still a luxury item. In Holland, tavern owners had to have a license to sell tea and got into the habit of serving teas outdoors in their gardens on portable tea sets with a heating unit, so people could enjoy tea outside in the tavern’s garden.

to be continued….

Join us for our traditional high tea and enjoy a cup of your favourite tea!



Spiced BBQ Chicken with Grilled Peaches

This is a great summer time recipe that’s light, healthy, and delicious!

4 skin on chicken supremes
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon clove
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 tablespoon honey
2 sprigs of thyme Chopped

Marinate Chicken in above ingredients for 4 hours. Take 2 peaches, cut in half and remove pits, marinate in 3 oz. of Birch Syrup or Maple Syrup. Remove Chicken and drizzle with Olive Oil. Grill Chicken on a Medium heat grill until160 degrees in the center of the chicken. Grill peaches till soft Serve Chicken with peaches on top and your favorite salad.

ENJOY!