Red Rose Tea - Why I Don't Drink Any Other Brand of Tea
My Rating for Red Rose Tea
I’ve been a tea drinker all my life and won’t buy any brand but Red Rose. It’s the tea I grew up drinking and the tea my kids grew up drinking. Who knows, if they have kids, maybe theirs will grow up drinking it!
There are two reasons why I drink only Red Rose. One has to do with nostalgia – as I said, I grew up drinking it – and the other has to do with enjoyment – I just like the taste.
Growing up with Red Rose
My parents were coffee drinkers but occasionally my dad would have a cup of tea. We always had a small box of Red Rose on hand. I honestly can’t remember any other brand in the house. But when I left home, Red Rose became a precious commodity for me because this was a brand that was not native to the United States.
Theodore Harding Estabrooks started the company in 1894 in Saint John, New Brunswick. Initially, Red Rose was sold mainly in the Atlantic Provinces of Canada but sometime in the 1920s, distribution expanded to other parts of Canada and into the United States. Detroit was one of the cities that received the tea, along with Buffalo, New York and Portland, Oregon. But even though distribution eventually widened in the States, it still was not sold throughout the country.
In 1932, Red Rose was sold to Brooke Bond & Company of England and the company expanded. Then, as these things happen, the business was sold again to Unilever NV in 1985. Three years later, Unilever sold the rights to the Red Rose brand in the United States to Redco Foods, Inc. retaining the rights in Canada and other parts of the world. Red Rose was essentially split in two and US production was moved to Little Falls, NY. As time has passed, I’ve been able to find Red Rose in more stores, especially as tea has grown in popularity and retailers have expanded their variety.
But that wasn’t the case when I joined the Navy in 1978 when I was 22. As I said, Red Rose wasn’t easily found and as I moved around, I kept a lookout for the tea I loved. No opportunity was missed. For instance, my husband and I traveled cross-country from Michigan to Seattle so my husband could meet up with his ship in dry dock before I flew back to Panama where I was stationed at the time. We were on our honeymoon and when we made a stop in the Black Hills in S. Dakota, I made him stop at a grocery store so I could check the shelves for Red Rose tea!
When I couldn’t find Red Rose in my travels to stock up, I begged family members and friends to send me two or three boxes at a time. Sometimes, my dad would send me a handful of tea bags in an envelope until the package arrived. When I go home to Michigan for a visit, my nieces are always kind enough to have Red Rose in their cupboards.
One fond recollection I have is coming home from school on a cold and rainy or snowy day and curling up with my book, a cup of tea and a piece of toast. When my own children were growing up, I often treated them to “tea and toast” after school as we worked on homework or read together. I hope someday they can pass that along to their own children.
There’s one funny memory I have of Red Rose Tea when I was growing up – its television commercial. The one I distinctly remember is of a chimp riding a tricycle ‘saying’ “Red Red Red Red Rose.” I tried to find it online and came up with this one. Not the one I remember but the one that many other people seem to recall, judging by the comments I’ve read online.
Red Rose Tea Marquis Chimps Commercial
Red Rose’s Wade Figurines
One thing that has set Red Rose apart from other teas is the miniature figurines they offer as premiums in their boxes. They began to give them away in 1967, first in limited geographical areas in Canada then to the whole country after they proved to be so popular.
In the 1970s, the figurines were marketed to two regions in the United States – Pittsburgh and the Pacific North West – and in 1983, they became available throughout. To date, it is estimated that more than 300 million Wade figurines have been given away in packages of tea in America.
I pulled many a tiny circus clown, Noah or scarecrow from the box when I opened it. Whether they are truly collectibles or not I’ll probably never know – I’ve tossed most of them out after getting tired of seeing them in my attic. Nautical Wonderland is their current series.
Past collections have been Calendar Series (2008-2012), Pet Shop Series (2006-2008), Noah's Ark Series (2002-2006), North American Endangered Series (1999-2002), Circus Series (1994-1999), American Series #2 (1985-1994) and American Series #1 (1983-1985).
What Makes Red Rose Tea So Great?
Most of the time after I left home I often was forced to drink brands other than Red Rose, usually Lipton because that was the most common. What a difference! To me, Lipton has a strong and slightly bitter taste.
On the other hand, Red Rose is a blend of orange pekoe and pekoe cut black tea from fine tea estates in Kenya, Ceylon, India, and Indonesia. The result is a flavorful tea, rich and yet mellow.
Admittedly, my love for Red Rose leans heavily toward memories of sipping cups of hot tea on cold days but there’s no doubt in my mind that Red Rose is the best tea.
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