If you asked someone to name something that is quintessentially British, along with answers like cricket, a Sunday Roast and fish and chips, you would probably also hear the answer afternoon tea. The tradition of taking afternoon tea started long after tea became a popular drink in Britain and was created almost by chance.
Anna Russell, the 7th Duchess of Bedford is credited with being the inventor of afternoon tea in around 1840. During this time, it was common for upper classes to dine between 8 and 9pm. As it was customary to have only a light snack at midday, this left people feeling hungry throughout the afternoon.
While visiting the 5th Duke of Rutland at Belvoir Castle, the Duchess complained of having a “sinking feeling” and asked for a pot of tea and some light refreshments to be brought to her quarters to ward off hunger until the evening.
Her idea was so successful that she soon decided to invite a few of her close friends to her private rooms for tea in the afternoon. The event became an occasion to share news, catch up with friends and receive visitors.
The Duchess was a friend of Queen Victoria, who was also introduced to the new social event. The Queen was an enthusiastic advocate of afternoon tea and the trend rapidly gained popularity. Announcements were made to friends to tell them at what time tea would be served. It was possible to be invited afternoon tea on every day of the week and establish a strong social network.
This popularity had a positive impact on manufacturing across the country. Capitalising on the new phenomenon, English china manufacturers and silversmiths began to produce fine accessories to be used to accompany the service of afternoon tea.
The tradition soon evolved into including more elaborate foods to be served with the tea: finger sandwiches, pastries and scones with jam all quickly becoming firm favourites. The main idea was to have small portions that would be easy to serve in a sitting room.
Centuries later, this tradition is still going strong. Many reputable hotels and restaurants, both in Britain and around the globe, serve their own interpretation of afternoon tea in decadent surroundings. While the selection of light refreshments remains similar, the choice of teas to choose from is far greater than would have been available to Anna Russell and her friends. The most arduous task today is choosing which tea to accompany your refreshments. You could argue that there are simply too many options to choose from.
We prefer our tea without milk to taste the nuances of the quality leaf, but, being the base of many fine English Breakfast Teas, our Keemun couples very well with milk bringing out its malty notes.
Rolex, Lindt, Bally and the cuckoo-clock – what do they all have in common? “Switzerland”, I hear you think aloud. “Quality and precision engineering?” Indeed! Nowhere else in the world can claim such accolades. Nowhere else in the world screams “quality” quite like Zurich. Okay, maybe there are others (including Geneva), which capture our imagination. Still, we Swiss know quality when we see it. So, when an award-winning café in Zurich asked to stock our teas, we were overjoyed to be recognised for our quality and brand.
This award-winning café is called MAME. You can find it on Josefstrasse 160, Zurich. Run by two champion baristas named Emi-San and Mathieu, they know their coffee inside-out. Both Emi-San and Mathieu won the Swiss National Barista Championship (two years in a row) for their outstanding coffee-making skills. Their understanding of coffee itself and extremely well-honed brewing techniques are a sight to behold. Even an irregular coffee drinker would be bowled over by their know-how and dedication to the bean (side note, MAME means "beans" in Japanese).
You can find our teas there now, brewed to perfection by Emi-San and Mathieu themselves. Pay them a well-deserved visit and order your favourite tea or try something totally new. We are confident that you will love our selection of fine teas. Tease out the delicate flavours of our tea leaves, get to know the uniqueness with each brew, soak in the wholesomeness as you hold the warm cup in your hands…
Have you already had a cup of our tea from MAME? Let us know what you think - we love to hear our customers’ feedback!
We have been featured in Montres-Passion in a lovely article. Take a look at the link below (French):
TheOrganicFashionUtopia have reviewed some of our teas! Take a look at the full article below:
Different types of teas require different temperatures - black tea being around 95°C in general, green teas between 70°C to 85°C and white teas around 80°C. Brewing in too high a temperature will result in bitter tea and you won't extract the perfect blend of flavours the tea was intended for.
Although becoming more popular, not everyone has a variable temperature kettle and when you are not at home brewing tea at the perfect temperature can be tricky to get right in a pinch. Using a thermometer, although accurate, can be a bit of a pain and takes away from the stress-free tea brewing process.
So how do you achieve a water temperature of 70°C for brewing your perfect cup of green tea in these situations?
A useful tip is that water will lose approximately 10°C each time you pour into a different vessel, with ceramic. What we like to do to achieve a temperature of 80°C for white tea like our Fuding Silver Needle, for example, is to pour boiling water into an empty teapot and leave the water to cool for roughly 30 seconds. The teapot will absorb some of the heat from the water, cooling it down. Pour this water from the teapot into the cups you are using and wait again for the heat to dissipate. Finally add some loose leaf tea to your teapot and pour the water from the cups back in.
The benefit with this method is you can do it anywhere you have access to boiling water and you can even do it without a teapot, using a strainer in a cup like our Finum Brew Basket. It also pre heats both the cups and the teapot meaning you get a better brew that stays warmer for longer.