Just over forty years ago, my son David and I were introduced to a completely different range of teas. Fruit flavoured teas. You can see them in our selection. There was one tea with the most intriguing name, a name that fascinated me, the tea was Blue Lady.
Blue Lady tea is made from blending black China tea with dried mallow flowers and dried marigold flowers. A tea with complex and subtle character and an intense grapefruit aroma. I always enjoy customers reactions when I open the Blue Lady cannister and they experience its fragrance for the first time. But why is it called Blue Lady? Was there ever a Blue Lady from which this blend of tea and flowers took its name?
My research took me down countless avenues that led either to dead ends, or not very conclusive results. Stories of Ghosts, from various locations, hinting that the tea was named after a ghost of a Blue Lady. But if so who was she? And how did she become connected with this Fruit Flavoured Tea?
A much more prosaic theory is that the tea has blue flowers in it, and ladies were associated with the early days of tea drinking. This linking of the two made very commercial sense. All very inconclusive, but then so many of the stories about coffee and tea leaves us with more questions than answers.
There was no doubt about one factor, the popularity of Blue Lady tea. Sales took off. Popular not just by the lovers of Fruit Flavoured Teas, but also by customers who normally kept their purchases within more traditional lines. By far and away our customers from Japan became the largest purchasers. If you have visited us at 79 Duke Street, you may have had to wait while we served individuals or a group who purchased sometimes as many as ten or twenty 125g packs to take home as gifts.
Then I met Linda Owen, a professional artist who is based in Hertfordshire. As we became friends, I found that she was making a study of Japanese ladies in their traditional dress. I looked at her representations, admiring the detailed intricacy and colour. This gave me an idea of creating a Blue Lady, dressed in traditional Japanese style. A visual representation that we could use as we displayed this special tea. I freely admit I can find no historical background for this, only that our Japanese customers have taken this tea so much to their hearts. Linda produced the beautiful watercolour that you see.
She may not be the original Blue Lady. If there ever was one remains a mystery. But I can imagine her in one of those wonderful Japanese gardens we see each year at Chelsea. Everything so exquisite and precise. She looks so poised and calm, what is she thinking, is she about to offer us, her guests her Blue Lady Tea?
So there is my story, some of it from my imagination, but not the quality of this very fine Fruit Flavoured Tea.
My very best wishes