St Katharine Docks

“Tea was a luxurious commodity
handled at St. Katharine Docks”

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Tea dance at the docks

Summer 2016

It was ‘one, two, cha cha cha’ all the way as St. Katharine Docks celebrated National Tea Day with a tea dance extravaganza.

They say that everything stops for tea but that certainly wasn’t the case on Thursday 21st April, when St. Katharine Docks celebrated National Tea Day. The piazza was brought to life with a dance floor and the Ragaroof Players dance group, and the sound of vintage music from the 1920s through to the 1950s filled the air.

The band were accompanied by some energetic dancers in glamorous costumes, who hit the dance floor to provide instant dance classes during a fun-filled three hour stint. As the sun shone down on the marina, office workers, tourists and residents were encouraged onto the dance floor by the professionals. Everyone was handsomely rewarded for their efforts, with cakes provided by
St. Katharine tenants, Dockside Kitchen.

There is no escaping the provenance of holding a tea dance in St. Katharine Docks. At its height, approximately 32,000 tons of tea from China, India and Ceylon would pass through the docks in a single year, being mixed, sorted and packaged in the warehouses that sit on the water’s edge.

Today we don’t think twice about popping the kettle on and grabbing a tea bag – with a number of exotic blends and infusions readily available on supermarket shelves next to a good old builder’s brew. During the 17th and 18th centuries, however, tea was a luxurious commodity handled at St. Katharine Docks, considered in the same league as tortoise shell, ostrich feathers and perfume. Drinkers had to wait for the clipper boats to sail all the way from China before they could make a brew.

Dancers entertained passers by

Put the kettle on

There is no such thing as just a cup of tea anymore, with new exotic flavours and brews available.
Here are a few teas to try!

1. Rooibos 

A caffeine-free ‘red bush’ tea from South Africa that studies suggest is packed full of antioxidants. Naturally sweet, it has notes of vanilla, caramel and chocolate.

Use 1.5 teaspoons of Rooibos and steep in boiling water for 5-7 minutes.


Hovering somewhere between a black, white and green tea, low-caffeine Oolong is more a type of tea than a single brew. Flavours and strengths available transcend the spectrum, from light and sweet with honeyed fruity notes, to heavy with woody, roasted undertones.

Use 1.5 teaspoons of Oolong and steep in boiling water for 3-5 minutes.


A vivid green powdered tea from Japan that dates back as far as the 16th century. It’s a tea firmly in the spotlight thanks to its reputed antioxidants, and ability to boost metabolism and lower cholesterol. The powder is also used in sweet and savoury dishes. 

Use 1 teaspoon or less and add to very hot but not boiling water. Dissolve with a spoon or whisk.