Monday, October 20, 2014


Tea, for the working class was a substance that constituted a break from work. It was a brief time of rest to mix with other workers, and summon the energy to finish the day. Not only was it a break from work, but the caffeine and sugar in the hot tea gave the impression that one had eaten something. Tea made any food seem like a hot meal, and was drunk in large quantities amongst the working class just as beer or ale had previously been drunk. 
Tea was not a luxury commodity to members of the British working class, but a daily necessity

So why the switch from the traditional alcoholic beverages to tea, a beverage that had been a foreign luxury for the past two centuries?

By the 1830's tea was a necessary "luxury" for many of the working class. The 1870's and 1880's marked the introduction of cheap black tea from Sri Lanka on the market in Britain. This tied with the increase in trade due to the tea clipper ships that began in the 1830's and 1840's, meant that the price of tea was relatively low.

With the advent of the temperance movement in 1791 when a number of Quakers joined forces with others against slavery and abstained from consumption of sugar and rum. Both of these substances were produced by slave labor. The movement expanded to include the abstinence from all alcoholic beverages. Tea was chosen as one of the alternative beverages to alcohol and by 1871 the average British person consumed 2kg of tea in a year.

The high tea evolved to take the place of dinner when a proper hot meal could not be afforded. High tea was a family meal, and took place anytime between 5:00 and 7:00 pm. It was much larger than the few sandwiches and pastries eaten for an afternoon tea in the upper classes. Instead one or two small hot dishes were served along with cold chicken, game, or ham, salad, and cakes or tarts. Tea became part of a larger meal and faded into the background, often relegated to from the table to the sideboard.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


Funeral director Paul Dunstall
It could be the ticket to die for at February's Art Deco Weekend in Napier.

Organisers are offering high tea at a funeral parlour - and though death by chocolate might be a good way to go, they want to make sure guests are still breathing at the end.

The idea is that they will be able to discuss graveside etiquette and the growing size of coffins with funeral directors as they indulge in cream horns, lamingtons, and chocolate.

Event organiser Peter Mooney admitted it was "playing with death" by hosting an afternoon tea in a funeral parlour. But it had proved so popular it had sold out in just two days.

It came about when Michelle Dunstall, of Dunstall's Funeral Parlour, asked if classic hearses could join the annual vintage car parade at next year's Tremains Art Deco Weekend, from February 18-22.

There had been a revival of vintage hearses being used around the country, she said. The business, which she runs with husband Paul, bought "Harold the Hearse", a 1938 Plymouth, about seven years ago as it fitted with Napier's art deco character.

It was now used in 60 per cent of its funerals, as people liked the idea of saying goodbye to their parent in a car similar to one in which they might have got married, Michelle said.

He brought local business Silky Oak Chocolates on board, and the event Death by Chocolate was born. Silky Oak staff will be whipping up at least 500 chocolates for the event.

Mooney said it would be like sharing high tea with the Addams Family.

"It will be macabre to some, but violently hysterical to others."

Mooney said the quirky events always sold well because it was a chance to "get dressed up and play silly buggers".

- The Dominion Post

Tea Lady notes: "I wonder what sort of tea they'll be serving? 1001 Nights? Sleepy Dream Time?"