Mom and I were in Staffordshire for a quilt show today, and while we were so close, we decided to head up to the pottery district of Stoke-on-Trent. There are several companies headquartered in the area, but I specifically wanted to go to Wedgwood. Not to look in the museum. Not for a factory tour to see how the famous china wares are made. Not to buy dishes in the outlet shop. No. We went because I wanted tea. Tea? At a pottery factory? Yes. Wedgwood sells the best English afternoon tea I’ve ever tasted.
I was first introduced to this tea a few years ago when one of my Japanese students travelled to England as part of a package tour to the UK (all of the Japanese tour companies bring busloads of eager shoppers to the potteries); she brought me a pretty Wedgwood-blue tin of loose afternoon tea as a souvenir. Back then, I was only drinking Lipton or Japanese green tea, so my tea palate was not very refined. Plus I was a bit intimidated by tea that was not already prebagged. Once I discovered that the 100-yen store sold disposable tea envelopes into which I could put the loose tea leaves to brew, I made my first experimental mug of English afternoon tea. Wow. So much better than Lipton!!
Since moving from Japan to England, I’ve tried all kinds of different tea, as well as different brands of my two favorites, English breakfast and English afternoon tea. I’ve yet to come across an afternoon tea as tasty as the Wedgwood tea, so when my tin was empty, I set about trying to replace it. It is not stocked in any local shops, so when my grandmother visited last summer and wanted to visit the pottery outlet stores in Stoke-on-Trent, I was sure I’d find it there. No such luck. So I emailed Wedgwood to ask whether there were any shops licensed to sell their tea in my area or if they had an online shop where I could place an order. No reply. So today’s trip to the actual Wedgwood Pottery (as opposed to the outlet shop) was my last great hope.
At last, success! I now have two tins of afternoon tea safely tucked in the cabinet, and my husband’s permission to make another trip to the retail shop before we move back to the States in August if Wedgwood doesn’t offer the tea online when they roll out their new and improved website next week. Life is good! Now if you’ll excuse me, I think it’s time for a cuppa.