I just watched a video about dos and don’ts when you’re drinking tea with royalty. Please. It’s an interview with Cindi Bigelow of Bigelow Tea in New York City, in which she says things like don’t wring your teabag out using the string and don’t wave your cup around. Which immediately made me want to urge everyone to wring teabags and wave teacups wildly on Friday for the royal wedding of Kate Middleton and Prince William.
Instead, I started thinking about what the quintessential proletariat tea brand might be — for those of us, for instance, who aim to spend less on our typical weddings than the estimated $70 million that will be spent on Friday’s extravaganza.
The three brands that came to mind were Red Rose, Lipton and Salada — the ones in any supermarket. Doing a little cursory research revealed that both Salada and Red Rose are in fact owned by the same Connecticut-based company, Redco Foods. While this does not disqualify either brand in my mind for the Working Man’s Tea Designation, companies that own two competing brands seem to lack the total downhome, straightforward honesty such a designation requires.
I’d take Red Rose out of the running, because even though it has the grandma market locked up — I drank Red Rose for years because I figured my grandma knows tea — it has slightly elevated airs, despite the fact that it’s exactly the same as the other two. And then there’s those weird little figurines of animals that come in the boxes. It’s like a senior citizen’s Happy Meal.
So then I compared the history of both Salada and Lipton. Salada was said to be founded in 1892 by Montreal businessman Peter C. Larkin, whose big idea was to package it in foil packaging; while Lipton was apparently created by a grocer, Thomas Lipton, from Glasgow, Scotland, who, in 1893, established the Thomas J. Lipton Co., based in Hoboken, New Jersey.
That clinched it for me. You really can’t get much more proletariat than a grocer in Hoboken. Lipton’s the winner.
So if you’re looking to celebrate you non-royal status on Friday, raise a cup of regular old Lipton tea in the air, wave it around a lot, and make sure to wring out the bag when you’re done.