Blog

  • American Royal Tea is rebranded!

    The response to American Royal Tea has been great and my customers love the delicious blends of 100% organic tisanes and teas! My teas started from a small batch of carefully selected herbs, florals, spices, roots, fair-trade black, red, and green teas that were presented to family and friends during the holidays.

    The unique blends and presentation soon became viral and more people started inquiring about my teas. They loved the impromptu explanation of how grocery store teas are often just dried out "fannings" ...or a better description "tea dust" that's left on the floor after the real tea has been collected. I also explained how some teas and tisanes have dubious origins and can be easily adulterated with other fillers and lower grade products. 

    Commitment to Non-GMO, Fair-Trade, & Organic

    I made it a point to bring my customers the best tasting, small batch tisanes and teas that had a clear point of origin. I work with American organic farmers who produce non-GMO, heirloom herbs, roots, florals, and spices, and all of my black, red, and green teas are 100% organic, fair-trade and traceable teas only from India, Sri Lanka,Nepal, South Africa, and Japan.

    With the increasing word-of-mouth about my tea, I decided to brand and market my tea to a larger audience. I conscientiously decided to focus on American farmers and produce and needed something that embodied the spirit and vision of a proudly American-made product while exemplifying the independent, creative, and inspirational American image. I took inspiration from the 1920s jazz age! Jazz is a purely American art form and the popularity of the jazz age inspired a world that was independent, sparkling, diverse, and innovative. 

    American Royal Tea is Born

    I named my new business American Royal Tea and the brand and tea blends use imagery from the jazz age in creative ways!

    I've continued that vision and enlisted the services of 99 Designs to flesh out a new logo.

    The winning logo was created by B O S S (https://99designs.com/profiles/bossandesign) ! The incredibly creative design is a modified tea pot, but conveys the nouveau retro brand of American Royal Tea.


     

    New Packaging

    The new packaging for American Royal Tea will prominently display the new logo on primarily matte black packaging and tea caddies.Special packaging may include gold tins or different colors limited/special blends.

  • 3-Tiered Stand Demystified

    Next to an actual tea pot, cup and saucer, there is nothing more identifiable with a proper tea than a three-tiered stand of savories, scones and desserts. Most people think that this stand the epitome of a proper tea experience.

    The answer is “yes” …and “no.”

    Like a hat and gloves on a woman, the three-tiered stand is an optional part of the tea culture ritual. Like any ritual, there was a reason why it was used. Originally, tea tables were not large, rectangular dinner tables, but small circular tables. The diminutive tables were meant to just serve as an informal “get-together” in between more formal meals. Granted, “informal” didn’t mean schlepping over in one’s camisole and yoga pants; it meant you dressed for visiting another woman’s home and shared a lovely hour or so of tea/tisane, gentle snacks and covert conversations. Marriages, employment, pertinent information and the day’s events were shared during tea.

    The three-tiered stand held the delicious snacks, but were not meant to take over the table. The tiered tray was practical and provided room for the cups, saucers, condiments and tea pot.

    The levels of the tiered trays have their own significance. First, the number of tiers determines the type of tea service. Cream (or creme) Tea is the lightest of the tea services. It’s simply tea with scones. The cream in Cream Tea represents the Devonshire or Clotted Cream that accompanies the scones. Depending on which part of the U.K. you lived, determined the type of scone or bread. In Cornwall, a slightly sweet bread replaced the scone. Cream Teas could include a one– or two-tiered stand to hold the scones, butter, clotted cream and jam.

    Afternoon (or Low) Tea expanded to include scones (or other slightly sweet bread), savories tea sandwiches and dessert/fruit.

    Royal Tea added champagne or sherry, and possibly a rather involved salad. Royal Tea involves a three-tiered stand and standard larger plate for the addition of a salad.

    High Tea was closer to an American supper or dinner, meaning meat and sides. There is never a tiered plate for the more complicated High Tea.

    Afternoon Tea

    The three-tiered stand in Afternoon Tea is supposed to show the order in which the meal is eaten, for example, sandwiches/savories first, the scones second and dessert last.

    I’ve seen all combinations of the three-tiered stand and after this post, you may never look at one the same way again.

    The proper order of the three-tiered stand is: Bottom Layer – Sandwiches/savories, Middle Layer – Scones/sweet breads and cream, and Top Layer – Desserts and/or Fruit.

    I’ve seen stands in the reverse order (ex., sandwiches/savories on top) and a three-tiered stand crammed with desserts.

    (For the record, times have changed, and a tiered-stand is not mandatory for a tea; however, if it is used, please organize it properly.)

    For those who follow American Royal Tea, you know that I am not a fan of taking tea as performance art.

    If one is at a tea, you don’t have to stress yourself about the minutiae of the tea service, but please have a general idea of what is acceptable tea behavior.

    Example of a proper tiered tray. Afternoon Tea at Brown’s Hotel in London.

    With that said, sandwiches/savories should always go on the bottom. Regardless of how dainty a tea sandwich may be, it will inevitably drip, ooze or drop. If it is on the bottom, you have a lesser chance of it dripping onto your chocolate covered strawberries, or shrimp salad from dripping onto your scone!

    Never overstuff a tiered tray. In the United States we like to see that we’re getting more. It’s not necessary at tea, and it’s definitely not proper etiquette.

    Tea service is meant to serve as a “snack,” a simple light meal between meals. It’s not meant to be lunch or the only meal of the day.

    If you’re planning your own tea service or tea event, please consider the convenience of the tiered stand, but by no means feel tied to it. You can also serve your tea snacks on individual trays.

    And by the way, it’s not necessary to wear a hat and gloves at tea. Enjoy!

  • Ah, the Sweet Smell of the Middle Ages

    That opening title is definitely incorrect. By all accounts, the Middle Ages were anything but sweet smelling. Put aside your romantic notions of conquering knights and their fair ladies exchanging loving glances in the halls of royal palaces.
    They were most likely quite stinky. Both of them.
     
    Romans were quite fond of bathing and frequented bath houses. Granted, not just bathing went on in these public and private bath houses, but the point is that they made the effort to wash off that thick layer of filth that seemed to permeate every piece of fabric and pottery of ancient Europe.
    With the fall of the Roman empire and the rise of Christianity, the church knew what went on in these bath houses and proclaimed public bathing as an entry to immorality, promiscuous sex, and disease. They were actually right in that the culture of the Roman bath house not only encouraged it, but promoted it.
    Unfortunately, the church took their disdain for bathing and incidental bathing happenings a step further. They saw something quite unnatural in one’s inclination to bathe frequently. While some people –rich and poor– actually bathed because they just stunk, society turned to the church for guidance and rarely bathed.
    Not everyone in Europe went the route of filth. In fact:
    “As one Russian ambassador to France noted ‘His Majesty [Louis XIV] stunk like a wild animal.’ Russians were not so finicky about bathing and tended to bathe fairly regularly, relatively speaking, generally at least once a month. Because of this, they were considered perverts by many Europeans.”
    Aside from the lingering stench of unbathed people, especially unbathed people congregating for social functions and worship, the unwashed masses, nobility and royals had to find a way to set themselves apart from just everyday funk.
    The_Coronation_Procession_of_King_James_II_and_Queen_Mary_of_Modena_(c._1685)
    Aristocrats and royals alike wore heavy perfume and men wore small bags filled with fragrant herbs, while women wore powders.
    Another fanciful pastime was the practice of “strewing herbs.” While people think that throwing rose petals was a way to show adoration for their royalty, it was most likely based in trying to masking that pungent trail they left.
    Strewing herbs was a common amongst all English subjects and involved layering the floors with reeds, rushes, straw, herbs and flowers. When people would enter, they would “muddle” the herbs with their shoes releasing pleasant odors.
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    There was actually a post created just for this duty within the royal palace, namely the Royal Herb Strewer. The last official Royal Herb Strewer was served by Miss Anne Fellowes during the coronation of King George IV.
    Given the over abundance of chemically-laced perfumes, soaps and room deodorizers, I would love to see a less dramatic return of “herb strewing,” namely, strategically placed fresh herbs in little pots or vases.

    SOME COMMON HERBS FOR STREWING INCLUDED:

    • Lady’s Bedstraw – Kills fleas. Also used to stuff mattresses.
    • Sweet flag – Sweet smell. Rush-like leaves.
    • Pennyroyal – Kills fleas (also known as fleabane) and repels ticks.
    • Lavender – Insect repellent (e.g. moths). Also used in mattresses and pillows.
    • Hyssop – Fragrant. Also has biblical reference to cleanliness [1]
    • Mint – Various species
    • Meadowsweet – Sweet smell.
    • Chamomile – Insect repellent.
    • Southernwood – Also known as lad’s love, this was thought to be an aphrodisiac. Often used in bedrooms.
    • Sweet woodruff – Insect repellent.
    • Thyme – Various species. Insect repellent.
    • Rue
    • Rosemary – Often strewn in churches. Kills and repels insects.
    • Rose – Petals only.
    • Camphor laurel – Also known as Mawdelin (from the New Testament episode of the anointing of the feet of Jesus Christ by Mary Magdalen)
    • Cotton lavender
    • Sage -Insect repellent.
    • Tansy -Insect repellent.
    • Basil
    • Costmary
    • Cowslips
    • Daisies (all kinds of)
    • Sweet Fennel
    • Germander
    • Majoram
    • Sweet Maudelin
    • Winter savory
    • Hops
    • Violet
    • Oregano

    REFERENCES:

  • High Tea is Not What You Think...

    APPARENTLY HIGH AND LOW TEAS WERE CREATED IN SUPERMAN’S BIZARRO WORLD

    There seems to be a bit of confusion surrounding the concept of high tea.
    I’ve seen hotels, parties and tea rooms list their afternoon tea service as high tea only to see the site as a scene from Sofia Coppoloa’s film Marie Antoinette –pastel pink satin ribbons, ruffles, bouquets and enough petits fours to feed an army.
    Some think that the word “high” must translate to aristocracy, royalty or extravagance; therefore, “high tea” must equate to an extravagant tea service.
    It does not. It’s actually quite working class in origin.

    THE INDUSTRIAL AGE

    The late-1800’s brought incredible advancements in transportation, machinery and mass production and ushered in the Industrial Age. The Industrial Age produced a new wealthy class of industrialists who enjoyed the fruits of the Gilded Age.
    This era also created a new work day that was different from the previous agrarian work day. No longer were people exclusively tied to farms or working as farm hands on neighboring land. They were lured to factories that required everyone to be on a regimented schedule where they arrived at the same time, ate at the same time and left the factory at the same time.
    Since factories were a destination job, their arrival was often preceded by traveling some distance to their respective factory. The same held for their return home. A factory worker could arrive home as late as six or seven o’clock in the evening.

    TEA FOR TWO CLASSES

    On the other hand, the English aristocracy had no schedule other than the one they created. They ate in the morning and evening. The lag between formalized meal times was too much for some in the aristocracy. As early as the 1840s, Anna Russell, Duchess of Bedford, in England, began to serve strong tea with little cakes and sandwiches to stave off the hours between meal times. She found it so appealing that she then invited fellow aristocrats –primarily other women who were languishing until the evening meal.
    The official “taking of tea” in the afternoon became Afternoon Tea. Afternoon Tea occurs anywhere between two o’clock to five o’clock.
    The official taking of tea in the evening became High Tea or “Meat” Tea because the tea accompanied a hearty meal of meats and heavier savory items that fed the famished working class who returned home in the evening. High Tea occurs from five o’clock to eight o’clock.
    So the next time someone invites you to High Tea, be sure to double-check the time and their definition.

    REFERENCES:

    · American Royal Tea – http://www.AmericanRoyalTea.com
    · TeaMuse – http://www.teamuse.com