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Nine Ladies Dancing Tea

MEET THIS RARE AND EXCITING BLEND, A FOOTLOOSE LOOSE LEAF TEA FROM SCOTLAND 

Welcome to Fortnum's, the Dancing Queen's Grocer. While the intriguing name of our newest tea may sound like a lost lyric from The 12 Days of Christmas, it in fact refers to the nine dynamic ladies who grew, plucked and processed it in the exotic, far-flung climbs of… Scotland.

 

The brilliant blend is testament to our commitment to sourcing homegrown produce, even when you might least expect it. After all, the chilly highlands of Scotland are hardly comparable to the steamy hillsides of India. Yet following on the heels of our Cornish blend grown on the Tregonthnan Estate in Truro, Nine Ladies Dancing is the second addition to our small but mighty stable of UK teas.

 

Unique, rare and perfect for afternoon sipping, this delicate black tea is prettily rolled with a beautiful twist and features notes of milk chocolate and dried vine fruits. Be sure to head to our Piccadilly store to discover this footlose loose leaf tea.  

WHERE IT BEGAN

 

 

It all started with an ambitious dream: to grow tea in Scotland and begin a revolutionary wave of authentic, hand-crafted Scottish tea. It was a difficult start; the frost was challenging and ever-present gales knocked the tea about. In fact, the top three regions for producing tea are China, India and Kenya who rank highest on the Top 40 list. The UK, with its inclement weather and unreliable sunshine, surprisingly didn't even make it on to the list. The odds were not looking optimistic for these ambitious tea growers. 

 

However, things began to change for Susie Walker Munro, whose Kinnettles Tea Garden is part of an arable farm located in the Strathmore Valley in Angus on the East Coast of Scotland, when she discovered tea seed from Nepal and Georgia. This tea seed was special, as it could withstand the often dreich Scottish skies, and it wasn't long before Munro's tea gardens were abundant with the stuff. Although tea can thrive in sunnier settings, it doesn't like to be scorched as it is traditionally a forest-dwelling plant, so Kinnettles became the (almost) perfect enviornment. 

 

The UK has had success with growing its own tea in the past. Our very own Cornish blend was hails from the Tregonthnan Estate in Truro which was found in 2005. While the nation's tea industry remains young, there have been other successes in Wales and Scotland. 

 

This tea seed was special, as it could withstand the often dreich Scottish skies, and it wasn't long before Munro's tea gardens were abundant with the stuff

Susie now offers tea tours and tea tasting by appointment at Kinnettles and sells tea plants grown herself from seed on a commercial scale. She also works with a group of talented and highly skilled tea ladies - with the help of their tea gardens - across Scotland as part of the Tea Gardens of Scotland

 

 

THE PROCESS

 

 

Once the ladies have hand plucked the buds and leaves from their crops for teacup-readiness, their yield is sent to the Scottish Tea Factory in Comrie Croft, just over an hour's drive from both Edinburgh and Glasgow. This is where the tea is processed, which is overseen by Beverly Wainwright. Beverly has been working in the tea industry for 10 years. Her journey started in Sri Lanka where she managed Amba tea estate, and after a string of awards she moved back to the UK where she went on to work as a consultant for the Tea Gardens of Scotland to help them establish their tea plants.

 

The tea process is slightly different in Scotland than it is in sunnier tea regions. There are lower light levels which affects the finished flavour. However, this is no challenge for Beverly, who dedicates late nights and early starts to ensuring the tea is perfect. Once it's ready, it is poured into one of our beautiful lilac caddies before arriving to our store.

 

 

THE LADIES

 

 

Pinkie Methven's garden is situated in a previously abandoned walled garden in St Martin's Abbey, Perthshire that hadn't been used since WW1. Her family had grown Assam tea for generations, and she also experiments with growing fruit trees and berries. Catherine Drummond-Herdman's walled garden at Megginch Castle, with its strong scent of roses, laburnum-arched pathway and heritage varieties of apples and pears, has been well-loved since 1575.

 

Veronica Murray Poore's family connection with tea dates back to the 1920s. Her grandfather worked in the Far East, before purchasing their home in the outskirts of Crieff in the 1950s, complete with a steading and market garden. In 2017, Veronica planted 1,200 camelia sinensis seedlings in the ground of Broich Tea Garden, and the bushes are thriving in this very sheltered spot to this day with a sunny micro-climate. 

 

Presiding over the beautiful private garden of Dollerie House is Lisa Dickson, who is specifically interested in growing tea and the social history of tea, and she has spent seven years working in India. She has planned an individual tea maze to enhance the garden for the long term and to be able to share it with like-minded people through tea tourism in the future.

 

Jane Spencer Nairm's walled garden creates a beautiful backdrop for the tea alongside her chickens who are always on hand to help with pest control.

 

Tea lady Kate Elliott created her Logie Tea Garden from scratch on a sunny slope in hilly north Fife. She grows the most unusual and sought-after plants and vegetables. Over the years, Kate has built up a vast knowledge of soil behaviour and composition. Jane Spencer Nairn's Rankeilour Tea Garden is what remains of an old walled vegetable garden. She reclaimed the walled garden for the tea garden, planting Crocosmia along the sides, which creates a beautiful backdrop for the tea alongside her chickens who are always on hand to help with pest control.

 

When living in Japan in the very early 1970s, Mary Gifford took a special interest in green tea and tea ceremonies. She moved to Scotland in 2013 and was intent on following up on her interest in tea by creating her own project. Mary is bringing novel and unusual variety to her walled Kinnordy tea garden in Angus. Polly Holman-Baird's Rickarton garden - which overlooks the ancient Cowie Water - is guarded by ranks of toweing beech trees, and tea bushes stand on parade. Protected by polytunnels from the everchanging highland weather, Polly's regiment of tea bushes are an experimental diversification. However, she hopes one day her regiment may become an army.