Everyone who loves tea should probably take a good look at Queen Catherine of Braganza, sometimes referred to as the “Patron Saint of Tea.” Tea was known in England by the time she arrived to marry King Charles II, but she popularized the drink that was already quite a fixture among Portuguese nobility. Her life story is one of great character and strength in the face of both great privilege and tremendous heartache and sorrow.
In 1988, Harney and Sons was commissioned by the Portuguese government to create a tea blend in her honor, and they did a bang on job of it. Keemun, Panyang, and Yunnan black teas were blended into the tea that has become a shelf staple in my house.
In my early tea drinking days, all black tea got milk and sugar. As my palate and tastes changed and I stopped adding anything to my tea, Queen Catherine stayed, because it was just as good (better) plain than it had been with additions.
It is lightly smokey from the Keemun and has a light fruity aspect as well. I enjoy it at breakfast and in the afternoon equally, and because of its versatility it can be served to guests regardless of whether they take milk and sugar. Drinkable on its own, it is also delightful with sweets or with a meal. Because of how dear it is to me, I am always a little nervous when I introduce new tea lovers to it, but it has never failed to win hearts.
(People new to this blend often cry out, “This is TEA!” on first sips.)
Queen Catherine is my tea for days when I need to be told, “There, there,” but also, “You can do it, dear, I know you can, so get out there and be strong!”
This tea will always hold a place in my heart. It was by my side during some hard days and has also accompanied many happy ones. Fortunately, it is a wonderfully affordable tea as well as a great tasting one.
Here’s the scoop!
Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: Harney & Sons
We created Queen Catherine, a Harney & Sons signature blend of three Chinese black teas (Keemun, Panyang and Yunnan), in honor of Queen Catherine of Braganza, who introduced her love of tea to the British. We are privileged to have this tea featured in the Museum of Tea in Hangzhou, China. Harney & Sons is the only Western tea company who has received this honor.