Saturday, November 13, 2010
Tea Culture: Fortnum and Mason
Bob: afternoon tea is the most sophisticated and ladylike of eating experiences and life doesn't get much better than when you're sitting down to a good pot of tea, lots of cake, and tiny little sandwiches. A good tea shouldn't be classed as a meal, but rather an elegant and frivolous way to spend an afternoon. To truly experience the tea experience you need to head for London, UK and visit Fortnum and Mason at 181 Piccadilly, London one of my favourite place I love to visit beside Harrods, without these two establishments London will never be the same.
This famous store was established in 1707 Fortnum and Mason is recognized internationally for its high quality goods and as an iconic British symbol. It has held many Royal Warrants over the past 150 years. Founded as a grocery store, Fortnum's reputation was built on supplying quality food, and saw rapid growth throughout the Victorian era.
In 1761, William Fortnum's grandson Charles went into the service of Queen Charlotte and the Royal Court affiliation led to an increase in business. The store began to stock speciality items, namely ready-to-eat luxury meals such as fresh poultry or game served in aspic jelly.
Fortnum and Mason: The First 300 Years During the Napoleonic Wars, the emporium supplied dried fruit, spices and other preserves to the British officers and during the Victorian era it was frequently called upon to provide food for prestigious Court functions. Queen Victoria even sent shipments of Fortnum and Mason's concentrated beef tea to Florence Nightingale's hospitals during the Crimean War.
Fortnum & Mason is famed for its loose-leaf tea and its world-renowned luxury picnic hampers, which the store first distributed to Victorian High Society for events such as the Henley Regatta and Ascot Races. These hampers — which contain luxury items such as Stilton cheese, champagne, Quails eggs and smoked salmon — remain popular today, especially at Christmas time and can cost anything from $75 up to $40,000
Although the American culture is lured to coffee, tea is an important symbol to Americans going back to the Boston Tea Party, of late the Republican part began to call itself the Tea Party, this name may remind Americans to drink more tea.
My recent experience of elegant tea service was on the Cunard cruise ship Queen Victoria where afternoon tea was served in the old tradition manner, silver urns and the finest English china is a must, and of course the waiter or waitress must wear white gloves. A good cup of coffee is an American icon, but tea shall forever remain a British Icon, the good things of the past must remain with us for if we discard them our life may become shallow. -Joe