Dear Tea Friends,
Scots and the Scots-Irish played a major part in the tea trade. Robert Bruce, a Scottish trader and explorer, learned that indigenous tribes in North East India grew a variety of tea. In 1823, Bruce met Bessa Gaum, chief of Singhpo tribe, who generously gave him plants and seeds. It took another ten years, with the help of Bruce’s younger brother, Charles, the honorary “Father of Indian Tea,” before Westerners pronounced the sample genuine tea, “not different from the plant of China.”
The aptly named Robert Fortune, a Scottish Botanist, provided tea seeds and Chinese expertise. Although unsuited to Assam, a Doctor Campbell planted Chinese tea seeds in his garden in Darjeeling town. Pioneering Scots named many tea estates after places at home- Bannockburn in Darjeeling or Glenburn, Craigmore, Dunsandale and Burnside in the Nilgiri Hills. Sir Thomas J. Lipton, born in Glasgow to Irish parents who ran a small grocery, grew up to own 500 stores throughout the U.K. In 1890, the millionaire bought tea plantations in Ceylon and began selling “brisk” Orange Pekoe tea to the working classes in boxes labeled “Direct from the Tea Garden to the Teapot.”
Several people have asked about the photo of me with the sheep. My friend Hugh Harrison took the photo when we visited his sister's farm in Kent, England. We were walking in the field when I was mobbed by lambs. Hugh, who grew up in the country, and can identify every plant and creeping, crawling critter, explained that these were orphaned lambs. Ewes can only nurse two babies, but if one gives birth to triplets, the third must be bottle fed. When Hugh and I showed up, the lambs, trained to expect food, attempted to "nurse" my sweater buttons.
Hugh and I met years ago when I hired him to create hand-painted faux finishes, on walls and floors, for a NYC textile showroom. Later, he illustrated a book I wrote about how to choose, use, and care for fine tableware. We've kept in touch over the years, and when I wrote Celtic Teas With Friends, I knew that Hugh would be the perfect person to illustrate it. Being English, and having lived in Wales, I didn't have to explain a single thing to him about tea, such as the difference between afternoon and high tea. He even corrected menus, "Liz-buth, Mother always served her Christmas pudding with ...; the tea knife is always placed..," etc. It was helpful and fun and we can’t wait to see Hugh’s lovely illustrations in print.
If you’d like to have some tea adventures of your own, there’s lots to do in the Empire State in April:
Sat., April 12
In celebration of Tartan Day — and all things Scottish — The Peninsula Hotel New York presents a special Celtic Afternoon Tea hosted by Tea Master Elizabeth Knight. The menu will feature Scotch quail’s eggs, Dundee Cake, and chocolate pastries with Scots whisky, among other delectable treats. Highlights include Teatime traditions from Cornwall, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, as well as Ms. Knight's charming ideas, for a Scottish Hen Party Tea.
Seatings: 2:30 pm to 4:30 pm
Price: $50 per person
For reservations, please call: (212) 903-3873
Or click: http://newyork.peninsula.com/pny/information_07.html
for additional information.
Open to consumers and the trade. Sampling, classes, goodie bags, and more. Metropolitan Pavilion, 125 W. 18th Street, NYC.
(631) 940-7290; Tickets ($20) and information at www.CoffeeAndTeaFestival.com
Sat., April 26
5257W. Henrietta Road
Tealightful Treasures 2008 National Conference
Elizabeth Knight is coming to help kick off All Things Tealightful.
Celtic Teas With Friends Talk 11:15 - 12:30PM
Seating is limited! Pre-registration (click here for form) and payment are required by April 20th
Contact: Tealightful Treasures (585) 436-9019 or visit www.tealightfultreasures.com