by Little Yellow Teapot (a tea steeping marvel and occasional contributing author to this e-zine)
My humans are not aristocracy. In fact, here in the USA we have no aristocracy. So they had to imagine what tea time would be like for a lord of the manor. And they were sure that Lord Grantham’s tea time would certainly be special. The first step was the tea, and from there all seemed to fall into place.
The tea: Lord Grantham Breakfast Blend, a mix of Assam black tea and lots of ginger flavoring. Very strong aroma in the can. Sadly, it’s dust in bags, but what the heck. It was infused for 4 minutes in water that had been heated to a boil. Fortunately, the ginger is far less intense in the cup and the tea is mild enough to drink straight. My humans don’t see this as a breakfast tea, though, since the tea is too mild.
The treats: Wanting her hubby to keep his svelte, trim figure, Lady Grantham had instructed the kitchen staff that light and low calorie treats were the rule here. A bit of sliced apple, which goes splendidly with this tea, was served (and their head cook sneaked in a pot of honey – for the apple, not the tea).
The setting: Quite a contrast to the light and delicate setting for Lady Grantham’s tea time, we figured his Lordship would prefer comfy seating, such as this loveseat my humans bought awhile back from a local furniture store, warm color tones, rich textures such as the chenille fabric on the loveseat and the lovely wood tray from Cook’s Companion and More (another local store), and subdued patterns on the fabrics. Even the mug (a departure from the typical cup and saucer used at Afternoon Teas and other more formal tea times) conveys that English country charm in its design.
The books: Of course, the library at Downton Abbey is well-stocked, but we had to choose instead from our own fairly meager selection. Little Fadette by George Sand, Fairy Tales from the Tales of the Arabian Nights, and Tennyson’s Idylls of the King all seemed fitting here.
That feather pin is from Germany and often used on hunting caps. Pheasant feathers, I think.
The British TV series Downton Abbey has been a big hit, so it’s no surprise that the folks at The Republic of Tea glommed onto the idea. They concocted some cheap tea mix, ground it to powder, and put it into those flat, round bags that fit inside their tea tins (along with lots of air that makes the tea even staler than it would be all ground up like that). Then they got the rights to using Downton Abbey characters on the labels and for the tea names. A marketing coup, apparently. The tea itself would certainly not be one that anyone in Lord Grantham’s social and economic sphere would have touched in real life. But one thing this little teapot has learned over the years, people have to go by their own taste. No rights or wrongs.
Our thanks to Dina at Cook’s Companion & More for the chance to try both teas in this set.
© 2015 A.C. Cargill photos and text