All Things Victorian

All Things Victorian
Victoriana Lady Lisa

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The History & Etiquette Of Tea

From time to time I will talk about the history & etiquette of tea. I began my business a decade ago catering afternoon tea parties all over PA, NY, & NJ, while presenting my Victorian Fashion programs. Long story short I had to give up the catering 3 years into it since Pa changed the law. They required me to install a commercial kitchen, to the tune of about $20,000, which was impossible.
Fortunately I was getting more bookings for my entertaining Victorian Fashion programs. At the same time I was asked to portray a nurse, Esther Tinsley, c. 1910 in a documentary film. She was the first woman hospital administrator in the country, before women could even vote! It was an honor for me to portray her early years. Things have been blossoming in my career ever since!
I did miss the tea parties though, now I have the best of both worlds hosting tea parties at the Stegmaier Mansion B&B where I present programs and tours. Please scroll down for the schedule of my upcoming tea parties.

Here is a funny experience that I had with Lapsang Souchong tea, which is the tea that was dumped in the harbor at the Boston Tea Party.

Lapsang Souchong Tea... Or Is There a Fire In The House?

During my research I learned that Lapsang Souchong Tea was the tea dumped in the harbor at the Boston Tea Party.
I decided I should try it. I was catering a tea, so I bought 8 boxes. While driving home I kept thinking that there must be a fire somewhere, it seemed as if I smelled smoke.
I arrived home and set the tea bags on the counter. I went upstairs a few minutes when I heard my son came in from school. He came looking for me right away to ask me if something was burning downstairs! I panicked and ran to the kitchen. Perplexed I said to him, I smell it too, in fact I smelled it all the way home from the store. We followed the smell and realized it was coming from the tea bags! I unpacked the cellophane covering, then it was really strong!  I thought perhaps it's better when it's brewed so I put the kettle on. (It did not get better. :) I tried to drink it, but all it reminded me of was a house fire smell.

I did a little more research and found out Lapsang Souchong tea leaves are fermented over burning Pine wood. THAT explains everything! :)
I bravely took it to my tea event, along with several other teas. I knew it wasn't just me when several ladies coming into the kitchen asked me, Is something burning? No I replied, It's just the tea.

Only one of the ladies in the group enjoyed the Lapsang Souchong tea. I told them my story and we all had a good laugh. I guess it must be an acquired taste, try some and judge for yourself. :)               


  1. Thanks for the lesson on tea. That's great...maybe that's the real reason it was dumped into the harbor? Well, I'm glad you were able to have a good laugh over that :) :) That's a neat piece of American history :) :) Love and hugs from Oregon, Heather :)

  2. You're welcome! I was thinking the same thing Heather, probably why they dumped it! :)