The first meeting of the 41st season came to order under Chairman His Honour Judge Derek Clarkson Q.C. Five apologies had been offered and a welcome was extended to Mr Charles Lubelski, a visitor, but also next weeks Speaker. Two new members were in attendance and introduced to the assembly namely Mr Jim McPhail and Mr Alan Barker.
There were initial notices from the Secretary Neil Ramshaw, who requested members keep him advised of changes to personal information and he gave an update on some absent members, and from Treasurer Roy Smith who issued and talked through the audited receipts and payments account for the year ending 30th June 2017.
Today’s Speaker was Mr Tom Goodhand whose topic was “Taylor’s Tea”. We were then entertained to the history of tea and all the different types—40 being sold by Taylor’s. Tom had also set up a table full of samples which could be tasted and he explained the intricacies of tea tasting involving double strength brews; the use of two spoons; the impact on our 9,000 taste buds on our tongue and the vocabulary encapsulating tea tasting. A pen picture of the different types was then given including Gunpowder Green, Lapsang Souchong (Kipper of tea), Earl Grey, Darjeeling (Champagne of teas), Assam and of course Yorkshire Tea! The difference and benefits of green tea as opposed to black tea were touched upon and the use of milk or lemon on its flavour.
Tea was first discovered and used in China 5,000 years ago more by accident than design and remained as that countries secret for many centuries. In 1606 the first shipment was made to America from China, introduced to France (not popular) and then England where its popularity saw it become the National Drink. 1658 saw the first advert for tea in this country and in 1662 its consumption took off due to the patronage of Charles The Second’s wife, receiving a further boost under Queen Anne who replaced beer for tea as her chosen breakfast beverage.The English preferred Indian Tea and that country is now the largest producer of teas although it is grown in around 50 countries with black tea being the main preferred choice in the West. Tea needs warmth and moisture and the tea-plant can grow to large heights but is normally restricted to five feet to enhance flavour which is also impacted by soil types/ quality and locations. The best flavour tea comes from the higher level leaves and we were also told about tea dust used in tea bags.
Yorkshire Tea is a careful blend of different teas by Taylor’s, a company started in 1886 by Charles Taylor in Leeds and Yorkshire Tea is now the second biggest brand in this country. Tea Kiosks were opened in Harrogate and Ilkley along with successful coffee shops and before World War 2 the Cafe Imperial was opened in Harrogate also. On a similar timeline Frederick Belmont opened Betty’s Cafe’s and in the early 1960’s the two companies merged.
Speciality teas were mentioned although not being derived from the tea-plant but from non traditional sources e.g. mint; fruit. Tea picking is a laborious hand picking process with leaves transferred into a back carried basket and then moved to central factories to produce black tea. Tom then handed audience members a variety of objects including a scallop shell, trowel, whisky, dustpan and brush and a bag and tried to elicit connections from members as to tea or the tea process which he then clarified. A lively and pertinent question and answer session followed the finish of his talk.
The Vote of Thanks was given by John Taylor (not of Taylor’s Tea or wealth!!) on behalf of 38 attendees and Malcolm Wood was thanked for providing apples from his orchard for members to take home.
NEIL RAMSHAW SECRETARY