My first job in the City, 30 years ago, was in Plantation House. How things have changed! I look about the City today and wow, what a transformation. Cranes everywhere, glass and steel decked buildings replacing natural stone.
Lunch options were limited to traditional sandwich bars – the pressing need for healthy living and a work life balance shine through now with endless options – less mayo and more miso with soups, juices, salads – every diet and culture is covered.
Even Plantation House itself has been entirely rebuilt; the 1930s building, the second largest in the City in its heyday and considered one of the most elegant buildings in the City of London, with its ornate stone-carved entrance has metamorphosed into Plantation Place, lying in the shadow of the iconic Walkie Talkie building which is 92 meters taller.
Built to home tea, sugar, rubber and timber plantation companies, most of the traders, brokers and shipping companies were housed in Plantation House. But it is for tea trading that this building is still most remembered – the last London auction was held on 29th June 1998.
Due to the high prices and a tax rate in the 17th Century of 25%, tea was originally a luxury for the upper classes when first introduced into the UK, and tea was always drunk black. Half a kilogram of tea then would cost more than a skilled craftsman would earn in a week whereas now, the same amount can be bought now for around £4. During the Second World War, tea was rationed and tea tax duties were removed in 1964 and it became an affordable drink.
We have strayed from the black tea and have endless options; antioxidant green tea, delicate Earl Greys, Lapsang Souchong and one of my favourites Holy Basil with Ginger which not only sounds divine but as it says on the box “Take a Sip of True Wellness” definitely is restorative.
I love the fact that, just as some of the buildings from my first days in the City are still to be found, one can still get a lovely brew of Builder’s – and of course when you come to Aldrich & Company we have a vast selection of options to suit every taste!