Jane Pettigrew and Henrietta Lovell – Passion and Courage

This week has been quite an eye opener for me.  I find myself inspired by two women, both of whom had the courage and passion to move from an assured lucrative career to another less assured career but one that resonated with their values, interests, and quest to learn, explore, and communicate about the world of tea.  Jane Pettigrew, the renowned tea shop owner, writer, lecturer, tea historian, and world traveler, and Henrietta Lovell, the Rare Tea-Lady, and owner of The Rare Tea Company.

I have many of Jane Pettigrew’s books.  They are among my ‘go to’ for tea history, recipes, and style. Before I knew anything about her, I stumbled on to her first book, “Tea Time”, published in 1986 which details the basics of traditional English tea and tea parties, with wonderful English recipes (alas, in English metrics).  (“Tea Time” is out of print but you might be able to find it on Alibris, the used book site) or at Amazon.  Just reading the ingredients of the recipes will make your mouth water and you will hunger for a lovely tea setting, hot tea, wonderful tea treats, and terrific conversation.  It’s a very English book, which makes it all the more charming and delectable.

Tea Time (Out of Print) and A Social History of Tea, both by Jane Pettigrew

Tea Time (Out of Print) and A Social History of Tea, both by Jane Pettigrew

Ms. Pettigrew is a prolific writer (I have four of her books) and she clearly thrives on discovery, history, and adventure.  If you are looking for a history of British tea, her book, A Social History of Tea will educate and delight you with the history and social evolution of tea in Britain and beyond.  The lady rocks!

What got me on this today?  I’m still reading Katrina Avila Munichiello’s A Tea Reader and there is a wonderful writeup by Ms. Pettigrew entitled ‘Around the World with a Cup of Tea’ in which she details her career evolution from communications professional to tea shop partner and owner to tea writer.  When they say, ‘follow your bliss’, she has!

And, as I mentioned in my earlier blog this week, Henrietta Lovell, the Rare Tea-Lady is equally inspiring with her Rare Tea Company.  Another heavy hitter in the corporate world who stumbled on a new passion and had the courage to follow that path.  Both these women are wonderful role models and remind me that there is so much adventure still to have in life and with hard work, courage, passion, discipline and the willingness to push another door and another door and another door, there is lots of adventure, learning, and community ahead.

 

 

The Rare Tea Company and the Business of Kindness

RAF Tea, Oolong, and Lost Malawi Teas from the Rare Tea Company

RAF Tea, Oolong, and Lost Malawi Teas from the Rare Tea Company

Recently, a good friend recommended listening to a BBC Business Services radio broadcast, “The Business of Kindness” literally about incorporating kindness into your marketing and business strategy.  Fascinating series of interviews with various business leaders but at the center of the article is the story of Henrietta Lovell, the Rare Tea-Lady who founded the Rare Tea Company in England almost a decade ago.  Introduced to an extraordinary oolong tea while on a business trip, Ms. Lovell developed a passion for high-end tea and opened a niche business to bring these extraordinary teas to England.  She works directly with the tea growers to source her teas from small mountain tea gardens in Nepal, India,China, Japan, and Africa.

The tea sounded interesting as did the packaging.  As a marketing person myself, the extra touches she included with her packaging including short vignettes some written by Alexander McCall, that are inserted into the tea tins.  Another interesting detail is that after Ms. Lovell met Terry Clark, a RAF WWII veteran, she created a special blend to honor the Royal Air Force Tea for the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.  Seven percent of the revenue from this tea goes to the RAF Association Wings Appeal and to the RAF museum.

Royal Air Force Tea from the Rare Tea Company

Royal Air Force Tea from the Rare Tea Company

I was hooked and quickly found myself online at rareteacompany.com purchasing tea from England.  To my delight, my tea arrived this weekend.  I ordered three teas – an oolong since that was the tea that inspired Ms. Lovell, an African tea, Lost Malawi, and the RAF tea.  The packaging is charming with each tin having its own colors and graphical design.  More than than, it included a hand-written thank you note and a small thank you gift package of the RAF Tea in tea bag form.  Charming.

Gotta love handwritten thank you notes!

Gotta love handwritten thank you notes!

I started with the RAF tea, a blend of Makaibari Estate in Darjeeling (which I visited in 2008 when I participated in Dan Robertson’s World Tea Tour to Sri Lanka, India, and Nepal) and Satemwa Estate black tea from Malawi.  It’s a strong brew, with a tag line “Calming in times of national peril, fortifying when courage is required”, an homage to the courage and sacrifices of RAF pilots during those dark days.  I followed the instructions, pouring the not quite boiling water over the tea leaves and steeping for 3 minutes.  It made a wonderful cup of strong invigorating tea – perfect for the unusually cold northern California day.

Discovery is so much fun and I am indebted to my friend for passing on the story of the Rare Tea Company.  I’ve not only found a new tea that I enjoy, but also a company I admire!