Lady Middlesex & The Tea Tasting

Dearest Members of the Ton,

Felicitations! Welcome to spring! A rousing, effervescent and ephemeral time of year when life begins again. A social life that is. 

It is said, “many a flower are born to blush unseen,” and to ensure that edict never rings true, yours truly has just returned from the modiste. My spring wardrobe will be spectacular creations of ethereal organza and stunning silks in shades of lavender, rose and fresh mint. And yet the endless fittings required to fashion this season's fashions left this author yearning for that which will never go out of style. 

Trading in the temporal for the truly timeless, I turned to the very handsome and erudite, Whittard’s of Chelsea Ambassador to the United States, for a private tasting to bring you the enduring art and celebratory ceremony otherwise known as tea. 

Savored for centuries tea is a story as captivating and scandalous as no doubt Bridgerton Season 3 will be. Drinking tea, however, is a coveted, cultivated and entirely elegant affair. 

There are but 5 true varieties of tea: White, Green, Black, Oolong and Pu-erh. The preparations however are as varied as the season’s bachelors and can be tailored to your taste. White tea, lauded for its health benefits, is as delicate and pure as a debutant in her first season. Try the fragrant and beautiful Silver Needle or light, floral and romantic Chelsea Rose. In the mood for something earthy and earnest opt for a grassy Japanese green tea or an alluring Jasmine; tea leaves layered with the fragrant blooms and then fashioned into elegant pearls. For a more savory sip try the buttery gold nectar of Milk Oolong. Craving something stalwart and robust opt for the malty familiarity of an English Breakfast tea or a tony Chelsea Breakfast tea. 

To serve a proper and exacting cup of tea, 2.5 grams of loose leaf steeped in 220 ml of the purest water heated to 80 degrees Celsius (never boiling) will bring to life the bouquet and flavor profile of the delicate Camellia Sinensis plant. Milk is added to black tea after it is poured. Princess Margaret took her tea with a splash from a silver flask. This author prefers an Earl Grey prepared by a charming one with a splash of continental education and at least one estate - preferably two.

However you take your tea, it MUST be served from the most beautiful teapot. Springtime tea parties are perfected with an airy floral Wild Garden or Dragonfly and Harebell Dunoon pot. A country house party calls for the traditional blue hue of the beloved Blue Calico from Burleigh, an enchanting Secret Woodland Dunoon or succulent Dovedale Strawberry teapot. Coastal homes call for the nautical stripes of Cornishware and celebratory Emma Bridgewater Blue Stars. Minimalists will prefer the quiet simplicity of the Jane Abbott Dancing Hen Teapot. For the bold and daring is the colorful and indulgent Ishtar Dunoon Teapot and Cup for One or glamorous Sara Miller Chelsea Tea Collection for One. 

Of course, the only place to see and be seen selecting your fragrant elixirs and bone china is the ever-fashionable Bee’s Knees boutique. Should you wish to be truly au courant tropical is in vogue - try Whittard’s fanciful flavors like Coconut, Dragonfruit and Pineapple Oolong. 

In Spring I partake in two enduring love affairs. The comforting and bergamot scented embrace of the Earl of Grey is perfect for April showers. My other amour is best enjoyed in the warm sunshine and verdant lawns of their country seat. Worthy of languid and scrumptious afternoon delights is the Marquess of May otherwise known as the picnic.

This author’s love of hampers is no surprise, and the ever suitable and stylish afternoon picnic is an outing perfect for embracing the outdoors and your latest suitor. One must have a colorful and stylish blanket upon which your butler can lay a glorious spread; an alfresco luncheon of cold meats and cheeses, sausage rolls, fresh strawberries and jam tartlets. Never one to be predictable, I prefer a humble and hearty Scotch Egg or Plowman’s Lunch, complete with jewel toned chutneys, a selection of the very best pickles and accompanied by champagne and herbal or fruit infusion teas on ice. To picnic in style do be sure to stop by the Bees Knee’s on April 27th for Thwaites posh pork pies and to shop the Seconds Sample Sale (no one need know) to adorn your fetes. 

To finish, a word of advice for a month marked by diamonds, the social season, and the start of the marriage mart. Fashion fades, style is eternal. Few things endure like jewels, tea, and royalty. So, choose wisely dear reader. After all, it is said “a diamond is forever,” even if your love affairs are not. 

See you on the dance floor!

Yours truly,

Lady Middlesex




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