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Tea in The City....

Two world authorities on Tea – for which they have been auctioneers, brokers and Ambassadors -  instructed us on its marvellous properties....


Thanks to David Johnson our Master’s past work for the makers of Typhoo tea, fifty Members and guests enjoyed a most unusual event in the Guildhall on Wednesday 16th May.   In the spectacular if confined setting of the Aldermens Dining Room we were entertained, taught, briefed and instructed by Malcolm Ferris-Lay and Mike Bunston OBE.  These erudite gentlemen had between them over 100 years of experience in all branches of the tea trade.

Not only did we learn of the origins of the British tea gardens in India, but we were brought up to date with major developments since then.  London and particularly the City has been the centre of tea trading expertise for more three centuries. Although now a lower proportion of the trade is physically handled in London, it still plays a major role worldwide.  On the technical side we now know not only the difference between the high grade OP - Orange Pekoe - and TGFOP - Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe - but also between the lower grades of Fannings and Dust.

Our two world authorities demonstrated the method of brewing tea for professional evaluation, including timing the brew to the second.  We were invited to taste the resulting wide range of twelve teas, several from Sri Lanka, and two from Darjeeling.  Mike Bunston, past Chairman for 19 years of the International Tea Committee and now Honorary Tea Ambassador in the United Kingdom for Sri Lanka revealed the wide range of tea types grown in this relatively small country.

The lively Q&A session surprisingly revealed close links with tea amongst some of those attending.  David Shannon, for example, having spent part of his childhood on a famous Darjeeling estate and his guest Donald David having trained as a tea taster in Calcutta at an even earlier date than either of our guides.

No gathering of Members would be complete without opportunity for socialising.  Accordingly the event morphed into a stand-up party fuelled by sandwiches, cakes and in due course champagne.  Our reputation for conviviality remains undimmed.

Hearty thanks were rendered to Malcolm and Mike for making the event such a success.  Thanks are also due, not only to the Master for his inspired idea, but also to Mrs Julie Fox our Clerk for coping with considerable logistic challenges with total assurance.  For those wanting to learn more these two websites are recommended: and .

Left to right:   Mike Bunston OBE;  Master David Johnson and Malcolm Ferris-Lay



Here is a photograph of record, with Mike Bunston on the Master’s left and Malcolm Ferris-Lay on his right. 


Behind them can be seen on the table some of the tasting paraphernalia and on the wall impressive murals of our venue.














David Shannon, Liveryman