12.31.2006

"Only Available in Canada?...Pity!"

Albert Brooke founded Brooke Bond tea who eventually bought Red Rose

A wonderful article by Sean Paajanen that I reproduce here in full (since it is the ONLY article I have found that encapsulates Red Rose tea history so well, and who knows if it will be online for the long-run...) about one of my great simple pleasures in life - RED ROSE TEA...
Red Rose is a well known name in tea, especially in Britain and Canada. The company started in Canada, but in more recent years has split into a US version and a Canadian version. Some say the tea is the same, but many think the Canadian Red Rose is superior. I have to agree, and I'm not just saying that because I am Canadian.

The company was started in 1894 by Theodore Estabrooks. He dealt in the import and export of various commodities, but felt that tea was his future. During the first year of business, he only sold $166 in tea. Even with such weak beginnings, he did not give up. In just 6 years, he was selling over a thousand tons of tea per year.

The Red Rose brand was born in 1899 when Estabrooks met M.R Miles (who was a member of a prestigious tea-taster family in England). They came up with the idea to create a blend of Indian and Sri Lankan teas, rather than the more common Chinese and Japanese teas. The result was a rich and flavourful tea, that they sold under the name 'Red Rose'.

Their tea quickly became a household name around New Brunswick and Nova Scotia (their company was located in Saint John, NB). And Red Rose's popularity also spread down into the New England states. They were so successful, that they expanded their product line in 1901 to include coffee.

In the 1920's, Estabrooks met Gerald Brooke, of Brooke, Bond & Company. They became friends and when Estabrooks made the decision to retire, he sold his shares of the T.H Estabrook company to Brooke, Bond & Company. He wanted his share of the company to go to someone with the ambition to carry on the Red Rose legacy.

After WWII, Brooke Bond expanded to create Brooke Bond Canada. This new company established new packing plants in Montreal, but kept the original facility in New Brunswick.

Unilever acquired Brooke Bond Canada in 1984, and the plant in Saint John, NB was closed. The plant is still there as a heritage building. The remaining US business of Brooke Bond was acquired by Red Rose USA Management, who was then bought out by Teckanne in 1995. I won't pretend to understand the nuances of big business, but the end result was that Red Rose had become two separate entities, a Canadian one and an American one.

Even non-tea drinkers, would recognize Red Rose as the company who made those little figurines that people are still trading and collecting today. My grandmother had a collection too. I wonder what ever happened to them?
Note of Confusion: I am not the only one that is confused about Red Rose Tea history!!

12.14.2006

Tea Granny

Liz hanging clothes during the 1950 flood
My grandmother, and all her friends, used to get a kick out of my love of tea. I would insist on my milk in it, as taught to me by Grandma, and of course three sugar-spoon spoonfuls of sugar, mixed just right...then I would ceremoniously and most carefully sip my tea spoon by spoon, blowing on it a wee bit to cool, then slurp it up with gusto. "You're quite the tea granny, Patricia Kaye," Grandma or Toots would say, as I sat at the little table in the kitchen. It was right by the back door with the frosted glass showing a scene of a hunter with his dog in the woods. Behind that door was the back porch, with the wringer washer and the slop pail. That's where Grandma put all her vegetable and fruit peelings, etc., and it had a complex organic odor that I didn't dislike, but definitely identified as uniquely Grandma's. She would use it on her garden in the spring, mixing it in to help the next batch of vegetables grow. She had a small garden by her outbuildings, a line of small sheds in the back yard, ending with an outhouse. Looking out the back door was her clothes line, which she used year round, even in the winter. I learned from her that clothes could also 'freeze dry' just like coffee! I even have a photo of her standing in a boat hanging clothes during a flood. I tell you, nothing could keep my Grandma down. She was a stubborn and persevering Irish woman if there ever was one. Life experience had taught her that if you want something done it's best to do it yourself, that God helps those that helps themselves, and that hard work never hurt anyone. She had a lovely touch about her that people remembered for years afterward, whether it was because they had stayed at her Fitzpatrick maternity home under her care, or knew her as a town resident and neighbor in another capacity. Her friends could count on her, and she was generous with her hospitality and time. I knew her for far too short a time, and of that for even shorter when she was still in her prime; but I remember enough to have been inspired down through the years by her, and feeling very blessed to have known her, and to have had many days and even nights where I spent them with her and got to see her make many things with her hands - amazing baked goods, knitted mittens, embroidered dish towels, scrumptious meals, or ingenious wheelbarrows made out of what was at hand (including tricycle wheels for the front wheel...). She had a strong large body, and wore her hair long all her life, always up in a top bun during the day out of the way, but down at night and brushed well before bed. In later years I got to help her brush it out. Only at the end, when she was tired and in the wheelchair, did she allow it to be cut, and even then under protest. I think it was one of her only vanities, being a fairly plain woman. I can surely understand that and not begrudge her. But she was a lovely woman all the same, and I smile to think that Grandpa saw that too, those many years ago when he admired her carpentry handiwork upon meeting her...