Queen Elizabeth’s Love Affair With Indian Tea
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In the wake of Queen Elizabeth II's passing at the remarkable age of 96, the eyes of the world are fixed on Britain. India and England have a long and often complicated history together, but for the Queen who ascended to the throne in 1952 - shortly after Indian independence - the country has always held fond memories. During her three state visits in 1961, 1983 and 1997, she spoke of the warmth and hospitality she received as well as the rich diversity she witnessed on her travels.

The shared past between the countries has also led to a shared appreciation for food and drink, and there’s always been some common ground to be found in the kitchen with dishes like khichdi and chicken tikka masala becoming a beloved part of British culture. Another Indian tradition that has become ingrained in British life is the art of making a bloody good cup of tea. 

Picture a sunny afternoon at Buckingham Palace. With Queen Elizabeth in the drawing room sipping daintily at a cup of tea as the corgis gambol around her feet. This would be a daily sight for anyone who lived within the Royal household. The late monarch made no secret of her love for a grand afternoon tea and she had very particular preferences when it came to which tea leaves made it into the royal pantry. 

In 2018, her personal butler Grant Harrold opened up about the secrets of what was probably the Queen’s favourite meal of the day and that no matter where in the world she was, she’d always make time to sit down for her afternoon tea. Harrold revealed that she enjoyed Assam and Darjeeling tea as well as her daily brew of traditional Earl Grey. It had to be boiling hot and like any true tea-drinker, a lukewarm pot was just not acceptable and was always taken from a set of bone china teacups. 

Historically, Earl Grey Tea is only made black with a touch of lemon and sugar although the Queen preferred hers with a small splash of milk and no sugar. And when she favoured a cup of Assam or Darjeeling, there were a very specific set of steps that she preferred to be followed. 

1. Pour the tea into the cup from a teapot,

2. Add milk to the cup after the tea and never before

3. Stir back and forth (never use a circular motion and never touch the sides).

4. Lastly, you should always sip from the cup and never slurp from the teacup.

For so many years, the Queen has been embracing the art of making the perfect cup of Indian tea, and now you know the secrets too. So when you sip on today’s afternoon chai, remember that you’re sharing in a tradition that is good enough for royalty.