Queen's Birthday Tea.
The tradition of associating the Queen with tea began in 1860 with Queen Victoria. Now however, Queen Elizabeth II is famous for hosting her annual tea party, held on three afternoons, at Buckingham Palace which is attended by 8,000 guests. There is a wide variety of guests present and the royal family usually makes an appearance from 4-6 pm. The dress is customary attire for both ladies and gentlemen, as guests enjoy a pleasant afternoon in the Royal Gardens along with some tea and scones from the Royal kitchen, set up on a spacious 408-foot long buffet table. Upon departure of the Royal Family the National Anthem is played to indicate the end of the tea party.
It is clear to all, that tea is an important tradition for Royals everywhere and in particular the Queen today. Many might ask where this tradition or stereotype began, and in Europe it can be linked to royals as early as in the 16th century prior to the French Revolution. Tea, as it was counted a delicacy and was only accessible by monarchies and high-society people, but it slowly trickled down to the middle class. The early influence of tea and its consumption is still having an impact on how we view tea today.
In the 17th century anything English was considered classy and fashionable, hence tea returned as a glamorous affair, often enjoyed in the evenings after dinner, with small pastries. In England, tea drinking began all the way back in the 1650's and as both the brewed beverage and the dry loose leaves were extremely expensive, it immediately became the drink of the royal family and the aristocracy. Coffee houses in London were filled with wealthy gentlemen drinking tea, and upper class ladies were known to buy small amounts of loose tea, brewed at home to enjoy with family and friends.
Ships that imported tea from China and Japan to Europe also carried porcelain pots and bowls and storage containers for storing tea, this also grew in popularity, as women who bought these displayed them on shelves in the ladies private closet and were brought out when guests were present. From the very beginning of tea trends in Europe certain patterns developed which eventually helped influence traditions of afternoon tea and tea drinking into the 19th and 20th century. Once the trend of tea parties was established, they were held for pretty much any occasion for a wide number of people. The growing middle classes imitated the rich and found that tea was a very economical way of entertaining several friends without having to spend too much money. This is how tea became accessible to all to enjoy.
The 86-year-old Elizabeth II is very particular about her cup of tea. She still makes her own cup of Earl Grey tea at 5 PM every day. Buckingham Palace have been instructed to leave the afternoon tea pouring strictly to her, 'The Sun' reported.
The tradition of tea has continued to last until now and will continue to do so. It remains the ideal way to entertain neighbours, friends and even business acquaintances, by inviting them in or out for tea. This helps set an elegant, refined and calm atmosphere where everyone feels safe and understood, the same atmosphere enjoyed by the Europeans centuries ago. With the help of Australian tea companies like Tea Blossoms and their passion for tea, tea history and benefits we will continue to influence the tea drinking culture of today.
So next time you sip on a cup of tea, have a think about its long and complex history of how it got to where it is today.