Concerning the Preferred Teas of several Knights of the Round Table
Concerning the Preferred Teas of several Knights of the Round Table – Letter from Dunamace Strongarm of Eaton, Nord-Draco Herald-Pursuivant of Arms in Ordinary, Royal College of Heralds
I confess this is one of the stranger topics of research I have been asked to consult upon. The heraldic aspect, I very much understand. The symbols of Albion’s heroes past should never be forgotten, for the sight of them once brought great courage to our people, and those who bore them rallied the Realm time and time again.
The tea, however? No matter, it is the duty of the Royal College of Heralds to serve the Pendragon Throne, and in this matter we have served.
The Heralds of the College and the Archivists of Brighthelmstane have been working tirelessly, poring over the records in order to discover as much as we could regarding your request.
We believe we have found almost everything that could be found, though of course you know well the nature of libraries – so many words and stories together in one place have a way of altering their surroundings. There may be more that was hidden from us.
I can tell you that we have certainly not discovered the armorial achievements of every Knight of the Round Table, for as you well know, I am sure, there were many, many knights.
We have, of course, rendered for you the achievements of the Most Honourable the Knight Commander of the Order of the Round Table. We have rendered the achievements of most of the Knight Companions of the Seven Sieges. We have rendered the achievements of many of the Knights of the Round Table.
As many as we could locate and rediscover, we have herein provided for you, as well as, in some places where possible and appropriate, some interesting details about the bearer of the arms that it might please His Majesty King Arthurus and his Court to view.
I was not confident that we would be able to discover much about the tea preferences of the Knights of the Round Table. However, much to the surprise of all here, though I suspect not to the surprise of you yourself, my Lord, we have indeed found at least some information pertaining to the particular teas enjoyed by those great knights.
As I am sure you know, tea formed an important part of the culture of the Order of the Round Table. The Knights were known to take tea when they met to discuss campaigns and quests.
Over the years each knight, it is said, developed their own personal and peculiar blend.
Tea plants are not, so far as we know, native to the Isles of Britannia. Who first brought tea to this shore, we know not. However, thanks to the writings of Sir Caradoc, Sir Peredur, and Taliesin, we have been able, and, I say again, we were very surprised, to discover the preferred teas of several Knights of the Round Table.
Sir Palamedes, and his daughters Sir Esclobar and Sir Safir, of the Southlands, brought to the court the dark, bitter teas of their homeland, which were made more palatable for Albione
tastes by mixing it with apples from the Vale of Avalon. They also brought to the court the leaves of the Red Bush, from far Kongasa.
It would not be too much of a stretch to presume the blends and brews of their homelands to be their preference.
We discovered a wonderful reference, a quote from Sir Caradoc, that his sibling-in-arms, Ser Dinadan Goodfellow “best loved that tea which was not theirs, but close at hand, and took great joy from drinking the tea of others, then observing their sorrow on discovering an empty cup.”
Sir Lucan and Sir Bedivere, both of Lyonesse, are said to have had a preference for peppermint tea, which they made popular as a tourney refreshment.
The preference of Sir Gawain was, we have discovered, Dragon Powder Tea. So far as we can tell, this was a form of Cathayan tea in which each leaf has been rolled into a small round pellet.
If that is the case, the leaves were withered, steamed, rolled, and then dried. For the first and second brewing, leaves should be steeped for around one minute. It is also recommended that the tea cup or tea pot used be rinsed with hot water prior to brewing the tea to warm the vessels. When brewed, gunpowder tea is a yellow colour. .
Sir Catherine Ragnelle, wife of Sir Gawain preferred tea made from made from dried chamomile flowers and hot water. She is said to have enjoyed the calming influence of the chamomile flower, and drank tea after each battle.
There are also references to Hunter’s Tea; alas, we have been unable to discover what this was.
We have records suggesting that Sir Bohart preferred to drink a tea named Spice Imperial, however we have not been able to discover what this blend contained.
There are many references to a tea called Caravan of the Rus – A peculiar blend of oolong, keemun, and lapsang souchong.
Aromatic and full-bodied, with a sweet, malty, and smoky taste. This tea is favoured across the Rus and the Steppe, drunk by Czars and Cossacks alike. Quite how it became a favoured tea at Camelot no-one is rightly certain, though it is possible Camelot received a delegation from the Rus, as there are records of visits from people all across Erdreja in the court annals of the time.
This blend was the preferred tea of Sir Ector, the Kingmaker.
We know that Sir Catigern had a great liking for this tea, as did Sir Aglovaile.
Sir Urien and his kin, so far as we can tell, enjoyed tea of all kinds, but had a particular preference for Nettle Tea.
Taliesin, it is recorded, preferred a brew made from linden tree blossom, beech leaf buds and the young tips of pine needles.
We were surprised to discover that the Queen’s Champion, it is said, had a preference for the White Tea known as Silver Needle, a taste which he shared with his adoptive-mother, Lady Nimue. This tea is grown only in Cathay. Silver Needle is said to taste somewhat sweet and delicate.
The tales of the Queen’s Champion eschewing tea in favour of coffee imported from the Occident are, we believe, purely propaganda. That said, he was originally from Lyonesse and Estragales before being raised at Silverlake, thus he may have indeed had a taste for the darker brew.
His erstwhile son, Sir Galahad, according to Sir Caradoc, had a preference for the Red Bush tea from far Kongasa, brought to court by the Southland princes.
Sir Alymere had a preference for ginger tea, a taste which she shared with both Sir Peredur and Sir Caradoc, who both used the spiced tea to keep them awake and alert during long periods of writing.
As for the Merlyn himself, aside from the tales that he never touched alcohol, we know from the annals of the court’s master of teas that the Archmage preferred the campaign blend of breakfast Assam prepared by the Noble House of Lyon for the Albione warband, which we know colloquially today as Lyons tea. Lyons tea is still blended to this day by House Lyon at their home of Goldenbridge Keep, in the Duchy of Winchester.
There is a story we found in the writings of Taliesin that once the Merlyn took great pleasure in magically shattering tea cups until certain members of the Order learnt that milk does not go into the cup first.
We have no records of the preferred tea of Sir Mordred, and, to be perfectly honest, I don’t feel that anyone looked particularly hard for that information.
Sir Bors, very much in the way of a man of the people, was said to best enjoy any cup of tea given to him. His personal blend, we have learned, was yellow tea, which he enjoyed for it made him think of meadow-sweet hay bales and a whisp of campfire smoke.
Taliesin records that Sir Percival and Sir Tor both enjoyed a blend they referred to as King’s Hope, the preparation of which was a closely guarded secret. Taliesin, however, never one to leave a good story unfinished, claims King’s Hope was simply black tea flavoured with vanilla.
The seafaring Sir Tristan is said to have enjoyed black tea brewed very strong, having a particular preference for a blend named Orange Pekoe, which, should Sir Peredur’s writing be believed, Sir Tristan looted from a pirate off the coast of the Low Countries. Orange Pekoe, popular in certain parts of Teutonia, is a brisk, refreshing tea.
We have no record of Queen Guinevere’s preference in tea.
Good Queen Elaine, second wife of the High King Arthur, we understand enjoyed the blooming teas which the Merlyn crafted for her. Though we were unable to discover the precise nature of the teas, Sir Peredur recorded the following;
“And to see Her Majesty’s face upon these occasions is indeed a true delight. For when she is served the blooming tea, a gift of the Merlyn, her laughter springs forth like a silver fountain, and the joy she exudes cannot be resisted by any in her presence. What magicks the Merlyn has used, I know not, but what appears a bundle of dried tea leaves, when steeped, unfurls into the most beautiful flower, the dew of which one can drink!”
Arthur himself, so we have discovered, was a more simple man when it came to his tea.
His preference was for a simple breakfast blend, and he took his tea with milk, sopmetimes with sugar, giving rise to the Albione term “Arthur Standard”. This has in recent years been bastardised to “Charter Standard” in relation to document which constitutes the Gathering.
That said, the King was not without his own tea affectations. He crafted his own special blend.
Alas the specifics of that blend have been lost from the annals of court.
It is said Sir Ector once inadvertently drank from the King’s cup and immediately required a healer, for he was deathly allergic to apples.
We know that, having successfully raided Arcadia, Arthur and his knights returned with fey tea, the properties of which were, it is written, exceptionally recuperative. This leaf, of the Honey Bush, is known to be one component of Arthur’s personal blend. It is believed that the Honey Bush was cultivated by Sir Galleron, and grew in the Gardens at Camelot.
Over the ages, the Houses of Albion began to create their own blends, competing with one another to claim to hold the greatest secret blend.
Simple beverages of leaves steeped in water gave way to concoctions and blends of different teas and fruits and herbs and spices.
We have, of course, many volumes on the blends of tea enjoyed across Albion, alongside lengthy treatise after lengthy treatise on the proper method of preparation. Some of the blend histories, however, are quite interesting.
Perhaps the most famous of these blends is the blend of the Noble House of Grey, crafted for Lord Charles Grey by artisan tea scholars of Cathay, following his daring rescue of a crew of a Cathayan junk from the jaws of a sea-beast.
An enterprising engineer turned merchanteer, Charles Grey and the crew of his tea clipper were en-route to Cathay to secure a shipment of tea when they came across the junk in distress. Grey and his crew saw off the beast, and took the crew of the junk aboard their clipper, returning them to their home port. Amongst the junk’s crew was the child of a Cathayan tea-scholar. In thanks for saving the life of his child, the scholar gifted Lord Grey with a blend of tea flavoured with bergamot oil.
Charles Grey’s enterprising fleet of tea clippers led to the establishment of the East Albion Trading Company, and saw Charles Grey appointed to King Stephen III’s royal council, serving for a time as Lord Admiral before becoming and Lord Chancellor.
Lord Grey’s design of the triple-mast square rig clipper brought the Albione navy serious superiority in terms of both merchanteering and naval combat, due to the clipper’s unrivalled speed.
This blend was made popular in the reign of Queen Igraine, whose preference was to hold court in the bustling trade city of Londinium. As the Queen was known to hold revels for the common folk of the city in the grounds of the White Tower, she requested a new drink be crafted for the revels. Her Court Alchemist, Jocelyn Coultree, took this challenge upon herself. By mixing the Queen’s preferred tea, the Earl Grey blend, with steamed milk, and a splash of vanilla syrup, the drink known as Londinium Fog was born.
A more recent adaptation of this drink requires the addition of gin, called a Londinium Smog.
Myself, I have a preference for the Queen Eloise – a blend of Hunwal Assam leaves, chamomile leaves, blackberry leaves, raspberry leaves, and apple – utterly delightful, and leaves one feeling somewhat courageous after a good cup.
I hope that this folio provides you with your required information about the Knights of the Round Table.
As for the history of the table itself, that lies in mist and shadow. For the living Knights of Arthur’s orders did separate the table itself, and concealed in various hidden places around the realm, that it could not be used as a political tool by any of the houses vying for power.
There, the greatest relic of the greatest knightly order, to lie in wait for the fated day of Arthur’s return. When the King walks again, then shall the table be sought, and brought, and unified once more, and in its unity it shall be strong.
I remain, King Arthur’s servant, Dunamace Strongarm of Eaton Nord-Draco Herald-Pursuivant of Arms in Ordinary Royal College of Heralds