I have been going through a crazy
borderline psycho Jane Austen phase (you know who you are, this is your influence). 😉
Chad initially bought us frou-frou teacups because of my Downton Abbey phase a couple of years ago (why did they kill Matthew?!? WHYYYYYYY?!?), but because Jane Austen… I (re-) fell in love with the art of British tea service, this time during the Regency era.
That being said, Chad decided to be a super awesome husband and complete our 100 Years of Royal Albert tea set, adding 1950-1990 to our existing 1900-1940 set (yay, Rustan’s Makati).
To fully be immersed in the art of Regency tea, here are some tidbits to read about while enjoying your afternoon cup:
- Tea used to be expensive during the Regency period. The economic situation at the time (named so because of King George III going “mad”, thus leaving his son, the prince regent to rule the country in the background) was the aftermath of civil war, the beheading of King Charles I, Oliver Cromwell becoming Lord Protectorate of Britain… Chaos, chaos, chaos.
- However, it was the return of the monarchy that made tea popular in court (and thus aspirational), in the person of Catherine Braganza (the wife of King Charles II). This was part of her dowry.
- In the Regency period, the popular chinaware was Wedgwood. These were created in the company founded by Josiah Wedgwood, who revolutionized the art of pottery.
While I was doing research on him, I realized that the antiques Chad and I bought from Bangkal were later forms of his work (not the real ones, these are remakes, I’m sure).
- The term “high” in high tea was derived from a place. The most common street name in America is Main Street. In Britain, it’s High Street.
In the beginning, to have “high” tea is to have “mainstream” tea… In fact, for a time, it was attributed to a farmer’s supper.
So, initially, there was nothing fancy about having high tea.
- In the Regency era, tea was drunk for breakfast and after dinner. Dinner was late… Around 8-9pm. Because of this, around 1840, the Duchess of Bedford kept feeling very hungry in the late afternoon. So, she came up with the practice of having her servants bring her tea with toast fingers and little cakes. Voila, the birth of having finger food with tea.
- As this practice of the Duchess of Bedford became fashionable, tea drinking slowly became ceremonial. The lady of the house would serve each guest tea, and the footman would give the cups to each guest. Tea service began with tea sandwiches, sconces, fruit breads, and muffins. Fancy cream cakes and petit fours would follow.
- Milk tea happened because teacups were so delicate at the time, and they would crack because of the hot liquid. To avoid breakage, milk was first poured into cups, followed by tea.
- In true romantic Jane Austen style, there was an old British superstition that if a loose-leaf tea goes through the strainer and into a lady’s cup, she would meet her true love that day.
What is your favorite tea trivia? Here’s to hoping that you get to find your own Mr. Darcy… Or Ms. Bennett. Cheers!