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How to make THE PERFECT AFTERNOON TEA BLEND | Baroness Bolsover

Updated: Apr 12

A very warm welcome!

The Hostess's Tea Blend

It was absolutely THE done thing at our Victorian Afternoon Tea parties for the Hostess to create her own tea blend to offer her guests. We would go to great lengths to create a tea that would appeal to everyone’s taste, that was our mission, and part and parcel of Afternoon Tea Etiquette. It was referred to as the Hostesses Blend or House Blend.

To keep everyone happy it was necessary for the Hostess's Blend to be neither too strong, too bitter, too flowery, too fruity, too much of anything really! One simply wanted a very nice tasting tea which EVERYONE would enjoy.

The most important thing about the Hostess's Blend is that it should be light and refreshing. Light, because if you’re visiting several Tea Parties in any one afternoon, which was perfectly normal in Victorian times, you may find yourself drinking several cups of tea, and refreshing because our corsets were very tight, our clothing heavy and we got so TERRIBLY HOT!

The Liberating Tea Gown!

As a guest we would wear formal day wear to an Afternoon Tea, and would always KEEP OUR HAT ON. Gloves were removed before any food was eaten for we ate with our fingers.

Life was different however, if you were the Hostess of the party. In the comfort of your own home it was accepted that a lady could wear a much lighter, floatier dress which we called our Tea Gown.

This stunning Tea Gown I've had made based on a French fashion plate design of the early 1900's.

The Tea Gown was truly liberating because with it you didn't have to wear a hat you didn't have to wear your gloves and....yes, you've guessed.... YOU DIDN'T HAVE TO WEAR A CORSET!!!

No wonder we were all clambering to be the Hostess of our own tea party. FREEDOM!

How to make your Afternoon Tea blend

The essential thing in making up your Hostess Tea Blend is that you use top-quality teas from a reputable Tea Merchant.

I remember in the 1860's all the ladies would visit a little shop in Cullem Street, London, called Joseph Tetley's Wholesale Tea Dealers. He was a nice chap Mr Tetley and he would help the ladies choose 2 or 3 different teas which we would blend together in our Tea Caddy bowl.

To make up your own blend, simply take one or two spoonful’s of the teas you've chosen and mix them together. Most tea blends contain an Assam Tea, which is a good strong tea along with a lighter tea or teas such as a Ceylon, Kenyon, or Sri Lankan Tea. Blend them together in a glass mixing bowl, using a silver teaspoon of course, and that’s all there is to it! You’ve created your own unique tea blend. How simple is that?

You can keep costs down by adding more of the cheaper, but strong, Assam tea into your blend. You have to be careful though, so I would add to my blend a little, but expensive, Darjeeling tea. This would give my Hostess Blend a distinct delicate flavour at a fraction of the cost.

The ratio of the tea mixture is the key. The balance does need to be just right so if you find you’ve added too much strong tea, add more of the lighter tea.

I would write down how many spoonful’s of each tea you’ve added. It’s totally frustrating if you can’t remember! And whilst I think on, when making your tea, it's one teaspoon per person and one for the pot!

In my Afternoon Tea Etiquette Talk I encourage everyone to play around with mixing just two or three teas. It’s a good way of introducing people to teas they may not have tried.

This did however present it's own problems. It was very, VERY time consuming and getting the balance and taste right would often prove a nightmare. The last thing you wanted was to make the tea too strong and have to go back and buy a milder tea to tame it down... TEA WAS VERY EXPENSIVE!! You didn't want to use a months tea allowance on one little Tea Party.

Of course, there is a simple solution to your tea blending dilema...

The SECRET to making a perfect Afternoon Tea blend

Ask the experts! This is exactly what I've done. With the help and knowledge of Master Tea Blender Gail Hannah, we've created Baroness Bolsover's Afternoon Tea Blend.

After listening carefully to my requirements, that of a perfectly well balanced tea which will satisfy as many pallets as possible, Gail set about carefully combing just the right blend and quantities of various black teas. The result is my very own absolutely adorable Afternoon Tea blend which my guests simply love!

It's a refreshing, full bodied tea, oozing character and charm, just what one should expect from an Afternoon Tea Blend. In fact, it's perfect ANY time of the day!

If you want to create your own tea blend with as little fuss as possible, I would suggest buy a good tea blend from a reputable tea merchant and add a little bit of your own favourite such as Darjeeling or Earl Grey to give it your personal touch. This way you can be sure you've got a good balanced blend for all your Tea guests to enjoy.

Do remember to make a note of the quantity you added!

Why we had to lock up our teas!

Due to the high price of tea, we kept our teas under lock and key in our Tea Caddy. Every respectable household had one of varying sizes. My tea caddy has compartments for two teas of my choice, many had several so you could have a ball mixing together different combinations.

Despite taxes on teas coming down towards the end of the 19th century and transport improvements brought about by the Industrial Revolution, certain teas were still nevertheless very expensive. White Teas, Green Teas, speciality teas, were very costly and although you would offer these at your Tea Party, along with coffee and a fruit punch, it would be the Hostess’s Blend that was generally drunk.

A T-E-A-B-A-G!!!

Outrageous! We didn't have teabags in Victorian times. Fine loose tea, brewed in our finest silverware and poured into a Bone China tea cup through a tea strainer. You can't beat it! Totally compostable and utterly essential for a spot of fortune telling which we Victorians loved. You can't read a tea bag can you?

Funnily enough, it was my friend Mr Tetley who introduced the Teabag to England in 1953.

Afternoon Tea Etiquette

In my Afternoon Tea Etiquette Talk I encourage everyone to have a go at using loose tea leaves. You can use them more than once and then pour them onto the compost heap. Loose tea is far superior to the fanning's found in teabags, rich in anti-oxidants and a much more environmentally friendly way of enjoying this wonderful beverage.

Give it a try... I know you'll approve!

I hope you've enjoyed discovering a little about Baroness Bolsover's Victorian world. In the meantime, I’d love to hear your comments and any questions you may have.

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