Social History of Tea

Sipping and Spritzing with Yardley of London

Why would The Tea Stylist be attending and reporting on an event where fragrance was the focus? Because tea played a starring role! It all began when pr maven Desia Halpin Brill of Brill Communications hired The Tea Stylist to host a tea salon in honour of a transatlantic visit from Yardley of London‘s Managing Director, Quentin Higham.

Yardley event Toronto. Waiting for media arrivals

Yardley Honours the Royal Wedding

While Yardley, which holds two Royal Warrants, reacquainted their guests with classics, Lavender and Lily of the Valley, the excitement was palpable when news of a new scent was announced. Royal English Daisy in honour of Catherine (Kate) Middleton and the upcoming Royal Wedding! “Daisy” is described by Yardley thus: “an elegant dewy fresh, green floral fragrance, reminiscent of flower filled meadows in the spring sunshine. It opens with a burst of energetic top notes in the form of fresh green leaves and apple, combined with a heart of hyacinth and white rose, enhanced with warm base notes of sandalwood and musk”  A sample was available to sniff and we would agree with the description. ‘Daisy’ will be available along with Peony and Iris, for the Canadian market in Spring 2012.

Classic brown Yardley lavender soap is my favourite. Note the vintage Yardley perfume bottle in background

The Tea Salon

We were a little concerned that with all the misting and spritzing of fragrance, the natural notes of the tea’s flavours would be overpowered.  It is a credit to the Yardley scents that they are subtle enough not to compete.

Tea Salon in the Brill loft. Media guests interview Yardley Managing Director, Quentin Higham

Most of the editors and writers attending were tea lovers. We featured 3 crowd pleasers – Japanese Sencha, Milk Oolong and an Afternoon Blend that we created combining equal parts Autumnal Darjeeling and Ceylon and half as much again of Keemun. The flavour profile was brisk and refreshing with the deep richness of Keemun lingering on the palate.

Milk Oolong scored well with the guests.We were lucky to source from a trusted supplier, so we knew that its sweet milkiness was the real thing. Milk Oolong is often “created” by spraying a milky flavour on the leaves, but a true M.O. flavour is produced through nature. A fortunate sudden drop in temperatures just before the leaf is plucked stimulates it’s unique flavour. The rest is up to the skill of the producer. It is made from the same varietal as the more traditional Oolong, Tie Quan Yin.  One could compare the novelty and idiosyncratic nature of Milk Oolong to that of Canadian Ice Wine.

For those who preferred a tisane, Northern Delights Inuit Herbal Blends were offered, with Cloudberry being the favourite. The delicate essence of  leaves of the tundra berry blended deliciously with a caramel sweetness which was partly derived from sarsaparilla root.

The accompanying finger food was prepared by Jean Pierre Cachon former head chef of the Windsor Arms Hotel, internationally famous for their afternoon tea.  For savoury, he prepared a petite grilled mushroom sandwich and an open- faced cream cheese gem with tangy watercress/cucumber salsa.  For sweets – lavender scones and blood orange tartlettes performed divinely as  finishers!

Yardley, A Heritage Brand

18th Century Tea Garden, London England


The year was 1770 – a few years before the tax revolt in the American Colonies.
In England, at this time, tea was valued as the choicest of beverages, but only attainable to the masses as counterfeit or low grade teas or in coffee houses, where tea, coffee and hot chocolate were served.  Favourites found in the tea chests of the wealthy – Hyson green, Souchong and Bohea black teas, were imported by the East India Company. Dedicated Chinoiserie rooms and garden ‘follies’ were designed and built to create the perfect setting for drinking tea in style.

Aristocratic life was becoming increasingly refined. Perfumes, soaps and tea all contributed to this aesthetic. The Yardley line of products was born out of a love of aromatic lavender.

Vintage Yardley perfume label. "Cries of London" inspired image.

When the Yardley Company was established, it used only lavender in its fragrance and soap manufacturing, but over the past 240 years it has evolved to include talcs, lotions, bath foams and eventually a line of men’s products. All Yardley products are English-made, from locally grown lavender.The Tea Stylist posed to Quentin Higham, the question of whether the essence of green tea might some day be mixed with florals in a Yardley fragrance.  He didn’t rule out the possibility and said that Yardley is always exploring fresh new blends.   We think it would be a perfect marriage!