A tea party fit for Jane Austen

Image from _La Belle Assemblee_, 1807. Tara Maginnis, Costumer's Manifesto.

The South Bay Ladies’ Tea Guild will gather to enjoy a Regency Tea this month in honor of Jane Austen and her work.  The Austen family is known to have been a family of tea-drinkers, and Jane wrote that her household chores included making the family’s tea every day.  Tea-drinkers in Jane Austen’s time liked to have a bit of food with their beverages just like we do, but since the fashion of the day tended toward “simplicity” for food eaten before evening, tea time was not the feast of pastries that it often is today.  One or two kinds of tea, bread and butter, and one kind of cake were about all you could expect to have with tea, otherwise you were approaching a proper meal, which would overpower the delicate flavor of the tea.  Here is a typical Regency tea menu:

Rose congou (Chinese black tea scented with roses)
Bohea (Chinese large-leaf black tea) or Pekoe (known as “orange pekoe”)
Hyson (Chinese large-leaf green tea)

Sliced bread (homemade or country-style) or Toasted English muffins
Fresh unsalted butter

Pound cake, fruit cake, or seed cake

Tea was also served with breakfast, and with late-night suppers.  Chinese loose-leaf green and black teas were all that were known in Europe and the American colonies at the time.  Twinings tea company was in business in London at the time Jane Austen lived, and she recorded buying tea for her family from the Twinings shop there.  Twinings loose-leaf teas are widely available in the San Jose area and can be purchased at Safeway, Cost Plus World Markets, Nob Hill Foods and Zanotto’s grocery stores.  With such a simple menu, you can easily enjoy a Regency tea party like the South Bay Ladies’ Tea Guild will!

Copyright 2011, Elizabeth Urbach.

Like what you read?  Leave a comment below, click on “Subscribe” above, visit the San Jose Tea Examiner page on Facebook, read my blog, or follow me on Twitter @SanJoseTea!

For more information:
“Chinese black tea in San Jose”
“Favorite Chinese green teas in the San Jose area”
“Tea history: what type of tea did American Founders drink?”
“Tea is good for more than a beverage: historic uses for tea and tea leaves”
“Teas of Yore: Bohea, Hyson and Congou”
“Boston 1775: tea”
Tea with Jane Austen by Kim Wilson
“To Make Bread” Regency recipe from the Jane Austen Centre, Bath, England
“English Muffins” Regency recipe from the Jane Austen Centre, Bath, England
“To Make An Excellent Cake” Regency recipe from the Jane Austen Centre
“Jane Austen Historic Reciepts”
“The Georgian Breakfast” from the Jane Austen Centre, Bath, England
“Tea in the Regency Era”
“Jane Austen Lived Before the Inventor of the Tea Party” by Jenny Wells
Jane Austen Life and Works Timeline History
“A Jane Austen Tea Time Party”


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