New Tea and Wine Entente Cordiale

A new partnership between Brooke Bond and the Bordeaux wine region in France follows the wealth of recent scientific research which attributes similarities in the potential health-giving properties of tea and wine. As we now know, they both contain flavonoids which are believed to be powerful players in the body's antioxidant defenses which help to "mop up" free radicals. Brooke Bond and Bordeaux are planning a joint public education program, pooling scientific information and sharing technical expertise in an attempt to establish a better understanding of the potential benefits of the two beverages. A spokesman for Bordeaux said, " It's an odd coincidence that, although our national drinks seem so different, their antioxidant potential appear remarkably similar and both are equally enjoyed by millions every day. It might seem surprising that French wine should become involved with British tea, but we are sure that this collaboration will produce positive results." On October 4, 1999, the new entente cordiale was sealed in the grounds of a French chateau --- Gruand Larose, one of Bordeaux' most prestigious castles --- and joint education and marketing projects began immediately. These have included the first ever art exhibition on antioxidant benefits with cartoons by Ed McLachlan, tea and wine tastings in U.K. wine shops, and the sharing of information between the two parties of the latest scientific findings. At all forthcoming Bordeaux events, Brooke Bond Tea Co. will offer Bordeaux wine at similar meetings.

The Launch of the Alliance

The event to launch the new wine-tea alliance, which involved journalists and representatives of the two organizations, opened with a welcome address from Christian Delpeuch, Conseil Interprofessionel du Vin de Bordeaux. He acknowledged the proven health benefits of wine and tea consumption while humorously recognizing the unlikely nature of the new working relationship between French and British. As he explained, " As for the ceremony of tea drinking, we long found it hard to consider this as nothing more than the quirk of an island nation that consoled itself as best it could with having lost the Aquitaine region"(which happened in 1453, when the French army re-conquered the area at the battle of Castillon, thus snatching it back from the English whose king, Henry Plantagenet had acquired it by his marriage to Eleanor, Duchess of Aquitaine in 1152). Monsieur Delpeuch highlighted the similarities of the very different drinks, " Tea, like wine, is first and foremost a way of being. It represents history and culture, and is enjoyed according to something of a ritual. Tea brings to mind the Royal Navy and the British Empire, as well as recalling the spice trade and the appeal of the high seas. Furthermore, it symbolizes the pleasures of a comfortable middle-class home. Wine drinking is typical of rural, catholic France, and beautiful landscapes shaped by man over the centuries. It concerns some very old bottles, but was also a consolation for the poor for quite some time. These old customs, concerning age-old products, have now come to the fore because new consumers have become tired of drinks without a soul to accompany food that has no taste." Monsieur Delpeuch's welcome was followed by a presentation from Steve Jones, master tea blender for Brooke Bond, who has been tasting and blending teas for nearly 32 years. He started as a trainee with Brooke Bond in 1968 and during the course of this training, he spent time working on tea plantations in India and Sri Lanka and two years as a tea trader in Mombasa, Kenya. Next came Dr.Jenny Poulter, consultant nutritionist with a special interest in antioxidant and flavonoid science, who explained the health and nutritional aspects of wine and tea drinking, including the fact that, " Tea and red wine are up to four times as strong as other antioxidants such as vitamin C. A number of large-scale studies show the protective effects on the cardiovascular system."

Flavonoids and Health

In a paper offered during the launch events, professor Catherine Rice Evans Ph.D., FRCPath, co-director of International Antioxidant Research Center, Guy's, King's and St.Thomas' school of Biomedical Sciences, King's College, London, explained why tea and wine are now thought to have such powerful health benefits. " Flavonoids are natural substances in plants, found in high concentration in fruit, vegetables, and beverages such as red wine and tea. Flavonoids - also known as polyphenols - have been suggested to have a protective effect in chronic diseases such as coronary heart disease (CHD) through their powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. " Extensive laboratory studies carried out in the past decade in many internationally renowned research centers have shown that flavonoids are the most powerful antioxidants found in nature. While there are five major types of dietary flavonoids - flavonols, flavanols, anthocyanins, hydroxycinnamates, and flavanones. " Red wine and green and black teas are especially rich in the flavonol family of flavonoids. Fruit and vegetables vary in their constituent flavonoids, with berries as sources of anthocyanins, while fruit is rich in hydroxycinnamates. Fruit and vegetables are also major sources of the key dietary nutrients, vitamins C and E, and the carotenoids."

The Brooke Bond Story

In 1869, Arthur Brooke opened his first shop in Manchester. He sold tea, coffee, and sugar over the counter for cash. This was a new idea since most people bought their groceries on them were always in debt. He was the first to sell tea in packets - in paper bags of two sizes, half pound and one pound. He also invented an early precursor of point of sale advertising using window cards advertising his teas in flowing prose and describing his selection of blends as " deliciously rich " and " ripe, juicy and fragrant." In 1930, Brooke Bond launched PG Tips - a brand name based on the idea that tea is a vital ingredient for good health and apparently deriving from Latin for ' to aid digestion.' Various blends were launched in the 1930's and 1950's; 1985 saw the launch of the One Cup tea bag; and in 1996, the pyramid tea bag added a new approach to convenience brewing. As well as being the year of the new French-British entente cordiale, 1999 marks Brooke Bond's 130th anniversary and the launch of two Ch'a tea bars and of Tchae, a range of four different flavors of green tea, and single estate, non-blended teas from Sri Lanka and India.

The Bordeaux Wine Region

During the 1st century AD, the discovery of a new type of vine that was resistant to harsh winters changed the history of Bordeaux wine. Between the mid-12th century and the mid-15th century, a steady wine trade built up between England and France. The 17th century brought new customers from Holland and other northern European countries. The Bordeaux region began to supply them with dry and semi-sweet wines to be distilled into brandy. Trade with the Caribbean grew during the 18th century and the region enjoyed great prosperity until the French Revolution. By this time, England accounted for only 10% of Bordeaux wine exports, although fine wines were sought by London's high society who made them fashionable. In the 19th century, the vine disease odium (or powdery mildew) attacked the vineyards, but once that had been brought under control, a period of success and wealth followed and it was at this time that some of the Gironde's most famous chateaux were classified (including Medoc, Sauternes and Haut-Brion in the Graves). The Industrial Revolution, the development of free trade, and the spirit of enterprise among Bordeaux wine growers and merchants contributed to the period of prosperity, which reached its peak between 1865 and 1887. At the turn of the century, Bordeaux faced a new crisis - widespread fraud and a drop in prices. In order to protect themselves, Gironde wine producers were instrumental in developing new French wine laws in 1911. This legislation delimited appellations for the first time and prevented wine from anywhere other than the Gironde department from using the name ' Bordeaux.' The notion of quality control was added to that of geographical origin, resulting in the comprehensive " appellation d'origine controlee" system of today; such wine accounts for 97% of Bordeaux wine production. New classifications were made in the Graves and Saint Emilion areas after 1955 and after terrible frosts in 1956, producers gradually recovered their commercial dynamism which has been helped by increased demand from around the world.

A Touch of Show-Biz

To add a glamorous and up-beat dimension to the Brooke Bond/Bordeaux alliance, one of the high-profile faces at public events and promotions will be that of French actor Max Douchin who is best known in Britain for his role as " Papa" in the Renault Clio commercials. In France, he has a long and distinguished acting career to his credit, and is particularly well-known for his performances in Chekhov, Strindberg, and has even persuaded his rugby team in Paris to drink tea rather than beer. The joint communication efforts are being carried out in the light of modern mass distribution and new consumer expectations and are expected to have added impact because of the fact that the two beverages are the symbols of British and French cultural history.

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