Red Rose Tea is a beverage company established by Theodore Harding Estabrooks in 1894 in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. It is considered an iconic part of Canadian culture and many Canadians have a strong emotional attachment to the brand. Its orange pekoe tea is said to be made from only the top two leaves of each tea plant sprig, thus ensuring the best quality.
Red Rose's old commercials introduced the catchphrase, "Only in Canada, you say? Pity..." (The catchphrase was transformed by Canadian popular culture to, "Only in Canada, eh? Pity...") Another slogan was "Red Rose Tea is Good Tea."
Red Rose brand tea has been available in the United States since the 1920s, but it is a different blend of black pekoe and cut black teas compared to the orange pekoe sold in Canada.
The brand is now owned by Unilever in Canada and is distributed in limited quantities by Redco Foods in USA. The brand was formerly owned by Brooke Bond Foods of the UK.
From the 1950s through the 1970s packages of Red Rose Tea included premiums, including at various times fortune telling tea cups with saucers, for use in tasseography; collectible tea cards; and small ceramic figurines by Wade Pottery, commonly called Wade figurines).
There were three white tea cups with gold designs in the series of fortune telling cups, numbered 1, 2, and 3 on the bottom of each cup and saucer. They were manufactured in England by Taylor, Smith, and Taylor of fine bone china. A small illustrated booklet about tea leaf reading accompanied them.
Red Rose collectible tea cards were issued in annual series of 48 cards each, from 1959 through 1975.
In 1967, Red Rose Tea began to give away miniature glazed pottery figures made by the Wade pottery company. The earliest giveaways took place only in Quebec, Canada as part of a short term promotion, but the promotion was soon extended to the entire country. During the 1970s, United States test markets for the figurines were opened in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and the Pacific Northwest states. In 1983 the promotion moved into the United States. The moulds for the promotions in both nations were the same, but the glaze colouring differed between the two runs.
During the promotion of each series, Red Rose Tea refuses to offer the figurines for sale, but at the end of each series' availability, the company offers a "closeout option" to consumers to purchase a complete set of figurines as long as supplies last. After each series is "closed out," availability is limited to trading among collectors.
According to the company's web site, "more than 300 million Wade figurines have been given away in packages of tea in America."
- Wade Red Rose American Series #1, 1983-1985
Monkey, Lion, Buffalo, Bush Baby, Owl, Bear Cub, Rabbit, Squirrel, Bird, Otter, Baby Hippo, Seal, Wild Boar, Turtle, Elephant.
- Wade Red Rose American Series #2, 1985-1994
Koala, Giraffe, Pine Marten, Langur, Gorilla, Camel, Kangaroo, Tiger, Zebra, Polar Bear, Orangutan, Raccoon, Rhino, Beaver, Leopard, Puppy, Kitten, Rabbit, Pony, Cockatiel.
- Wade Red Rose Circus Series, 1994-1999
Ringmaster, Human Cannonball, Strongman, Clown, Bear, Custard Pie Clown, Elephant, Teapot Monkey, Raised Elephant, Teacup Monkey, Lion, Poodle, Seal, Horse, Tiger.
- Wade Red Rose North American Endangered Animals Series, 1999-2002
Sturgeon, Manatee, Timber Wolf, Bald Eagle, Florida Panther, Polar Bear, Peregrine Falcon, Green Sea Turtle, Humpback Whale, Spotted Owl
- Wade Red Rose Noah's Ark Series, 2002-2006
Noah and Wife, Male and Female Elephant, Male and Female Rhino, Male and Female Zebra, Goose, Gander, Hen, Rooster, Ram, Ewe, Lion, Lioness
- Wade Red Rose Pet Shop Series, 2006-2008
Laborador Retriever, Cat, Tropical Fish, Parrot, Kittens, Puppies, Pony, Rabbit, Turtle, Duck
- Wade Red Rose Calendar Series, 2008â"2012
January - Snowman, February - Cupid, March - Leprechaun, April - Easter Bunny, May - Mother's Day Flowers, June - Graduation, July - Uncle Sam, August - Sandcastle, September - Scarecrow, October - Pumpkin Kitty, November - Turkey, December - Christmas Tree
- Wade Red Rose Nautical Wonderland, 2012-2014
Compass, Conch Shell, Crab, Diver's Helmet, Lighthouse, Mermaid, Sail Boat, Seagull, Seahorse, Ship's Wheel, Starfish, Treasure Chest
The figurines are no longer distributed in Canada.
The Marquis Chimps appeared in three television commercials for Red Rose Tea in 1960. One had the apes playing golf, and another showed them as cowboys. The most popular ad, "Rock and Roll Tea Party," featured the chimps as plaid-suited musicians, playing a swinging jazz number in praise of Red Rose Tea. Chimpanzees had been advertising PG Tips (another Brooke Bond brand) since 1956 in the UK, and would continue to do so until the late 1990s.
In 1968, Pittsburgh disc jockeys Zeke Jackson and Frank "Crazy D" DiMino played the "Rock and Roll Dance Party" soundtrack on their radio programs. Listener response was so enthusiastic that they licensed the song from Red Rose's parent company, Brooke Bond Foods, and issued it on a 45-rpm single. Record collector and producer Paul Mawhinney pressed 1000 copies of the tune for Jackson and DiMino on their own Gink label ("Red Rose Tea," Gink #9612, no artist credited); the record version extends the TV-commercial soundtrack by playing it through twice; and the "B" side is identical to the "A" side.
- Red Rose Canada site
- US site