The Art of Tea

Life hadn’t been kind to our founder Edwin Henry Booth and he’d faced unimaginable hardship and poverty throughout his childhood, but at nineteen years old things began to change for him.

Arriving in Preston with little to his name he saw a shop undergoing renovation and after enquiring, he learnt that it was to belong to a grocer from Liverpool, Mr Nickson. He soon found himself with a job but little did he know it would determine his future and that of generations to follow.

Mr Nickson was planning to open a second store in Blackpool and sent Edwin to Liverpool to master the trade of tea. Motivated by the promise of managing a new store, he learnt the art of blending and soon specialised in creating his own unique blends of tea, beginning a tradition that remains at the heart of our business today where we blend our tea by hand at our Preston-based HQ.

Unfortunately, the new position didn’t materialise but a life-changing conversation did. Mr Nickson told Edwin that if he were to go alone, he was sure he would succeed. Unable to secure a loan but persistent in his efforts, Edwin borrowed £80 of goods from his former employer and in June 1847, The China House in Blackpool opened. He made a profit of £50 and our story began.

After a positive few years of trading, his success as a grocer grew meaning Booths were able to import goods from overseas including tea from China. A fact not commonly known, but The SS Lady Louise was the first commercial ship to enter Preston Docks under the charter of E.H.Booth & Co and contained blends of tea that remain in our range today.

Edwin’s expertise lay in tea and coffee which at the time would be weighed using a scale and silver sixpence and then wrapped for each customer by hand. We once ran an old advertisement, describing our tea as ‘not ordinary tea, but the tea from carefully selected gardens, blended by experts in Lancashire to suit Lancashire people.’ Our reach has grown outside of Lancashire but the sentiment remains the same and the link to our history is still as important to us now as it was back then.

So what’s the secret to the perfect brew? Freshness is a priority and the tea needs to be of good quality – it’s also important to note that loose leaf tea and tea bags give very different cups. The process of making a cup of tea may seem simple but there’s more to be considered than you may think:

  1. Heat fresh water from the cold top – for the perfect cup, remember to use a filter, or bottled water unless you have lovely Lake District water!
  2. Warm the pot using hot water from the kettle and use China if possible – its smooth surface doesn’t bind the tannins of the tea, leaving the flavour untouched.
  3. Use only one teaspoon of tea per person
  4. Once the water is freshly boiled, pour it over the tea
  5. Before serving allow your tea to stand for four minutes for maximum flavour, then stir before pouring – tea takes time to infuse, so allowing it time to stand is particularly important