We haven’t done a Namestorm in a long time! The last one we did was for coffee lovers, so let’s follow that up with one for tea lovers.
Here are some tea-inspired baby names for all the tea lovers out there:
The Camellia genus gives us not only flowers, but also tea: the Camellia sinensis plant is our primary source of tea. The genus was named by Carl Linnaeus in honor of Czech missionary and botanist Georg Joseph Kamel (1661-1706).
Thomas Garway was the first person sell tea in London, in 1657.
Thomas Twining founded Twinings of London in the early 1700s.
Thomas Lipton founded Lipton Tea in the 1890s.
Thomas Sullivan of New York inadvertently invented teabags in 1907 when he distributed tea samples in loosely woven silk bags and people started using the bags to brew the tea.
Catherine (or Catarina)
Portuguese princess Catherine of Braganza popularized tea-drinking among the British nobility in the mid-1600 upon her marriage to King Charles II in 1662. (FYI: The borough of Queens in New York City was named during Catherine’s tenure, so it was presumably named for her.)
Britain was obsessed with tea by the 1800s, but China controlled the tea trade. So in the late 1840s, the British East India Company sent Scottish botanist Robert Fortune (1812-1880) to China to learn the secrets of Chinese tea production and to smuggle tea plants and seedlings out of the country and take them to India.
Jasmine tea is a blend made with green tea and jasmine blossoms.
Grey (or Earl) (or Earl Grey)
Earl Grey tea is a blend made with black tea and oil of bergamot (a type of citrus fruit). It existed as far back as the 1880s and is thought to be named after former British Prime Minister Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey.
The famous song “Tea for Two” comes from the 1925 musical No, No, Nanette. It’s a duet sung during Act II by characters Nanette and Tom.
What other baby names with a tea association can you come up with?
The name Bear was just barely being used before adventurer Bear Grylls (birth name: Edward Grylls) came to our attention via the TV series Man vs. Wild (2006-2011).
Since then, usage has increased steadily — both among regular folks and among celebrities:
2017: English musician Liam Payne had son Bear Grey
2017: English musician Howard Donald had son Dougie Bear
2013: English actress Kate Winslet had son Bear Blaze
2011: American actress Alicia Silverstone had son Bear Blu
2010: English chef Jamie Oliver had son Buddy Bear Maurice
In the U.S., the baby name Bear is currently sitting just outside the top 1,000:
2016: 186 baby boys named Bear [rank: 1,055th]
2015: 134 baby boys named Bear [rank: 1,311th]
2014: 131 baby boys named Bear [rank: 1,327th]
2013: 84 baby boys named Bear [rank: 1,730th]
2012: 79 baby boys named Bear [rank: 1,845th]
2011: 85 baby boys named Bear [rank: 1,728th]
The England and Wales data for 2016 isn’t out yet, but Bear entered the top 1,000* there in 2015:
2015: 36 baby boys named Bear in E/W [rank: 859th]
2014: 19 baby boys named Bear in E/W [rank: 1,330th]
2013: 15 baby boys named Bear in E/W [rank 1,546th]
2012: 19 baby boys named Bear in E/W [rank 1,319th]
2011: 7 baby boys named Bear in E/W [rank 2,650th]
But this data only accounts for first names. The principal usage for Bear could be happening under the radar, with middles. Two of the celebs above used Bear as a middle, and so did this Canadian couple who hit on a bear on the way to the delivery room. And don’t forget American actress Zooey Deschanel, who didn’t opt for Bear, but did give her kids the animal-middles Otter and Wolf.
Do you like Bear as a baby name? How high do you think it will climb on the U.S. charts?
My name is Jennifer. My siblings: Heather, Michael, Lauren, Kimberly. None of them are stereotypical names you’d hear on the Top 60 Ghetto Black Names list. They are, however, found in the most popular names of the year list. I didn’t want my daughter’s name on either. My mother’s reasoning for her decision was different than mine. She would say “do you want to get a job?” Which sounds harsh but some research shows “black-sounding” names on resumes don’t do as well next to the same resume holding a “white-sounding” names.
If a name isn’t used much any more, no great calamity will result. Brangien and Althalos have been rarely used since the Middle Ages, but nobody has suffered as a result of Brangien deficiency, and no awful disaster has ensued from the loss of Althalos.
Furthermore, if we decided we’d like to see more of a particular name which has gone out of use, it costs no money or effort to bring it back. You simply slap the name onto your child’s birth certificate, and hey presto – you’ve got yourself a rare and beautiful specimen of an Althalos.
As long as we still know of a name’s existence from books and records, it is a potential baby name, no matter how many centuries or even millennia since it was last used.
There is hardly an account of Greenwich Village in the ’20s in which she does not prominently figure. Yet her roots in the neighborhood preceded even her fame. The poet’s unusual middle name came from St. Vincent’s Hospital on 12th St. Millay’s uncle was nursed back to health there after a sailing accident, and her mother wished to show her gratitude by naming her first-born child after the place.
This belief [in baby-name stealing] is ridiculous–after all, liking a name doesn’t give you ownership over it, and sharing a name with a friend or relative is, at worst, a mild nuisance. But the idea that names shouldn’t be stolen is not surprising. Over the past hundred years, naming has increasingly become an act of self-expression for parents, a way to assert their individuality rather than a sense of belonging in their community. With our names and selves so thoroughly intertwined, it stands to reason that parents would become increasingly protective of their children’s names.
As with so much of contemporary parenting, the drama surrounding name-stealing is ultimately more about the threat it poses to parent’s identities than their children’s. In practical terms, no child will be harmed by having the same name as a classmate or cousin. … Far more punishing than having the same name as another child is growing up in an environment where names are considered personal property and friendships end when someone “steals” one.
Naming your child was once simple: you picked from the same handful of options everyone else used. But modern parents want exclusivity. And so boys are called Rollo, Emilio, Rafferty and Grey. Their sisters answer to Aurelia, Bartolomea, Ptarmigan or Plum. Throw in a few middle names and the average birth certificate looks like an earthquake under a Scrabble board.
They’ve forgotten about ‘eccentric sheep’ syndrome.
This is the process, identified by social anthropologist Kate Fox in her book Watching the English, whereby something meant as ‘evidence of our eccentricity and originality’ ends up as ‘conformist, conservative rule-following’. Fox applied it to clothes, but the same thing is happening with names. In an attempt to make their children stand out, parents are only helping them to blend in. When everyone’s a Marni or an Autumn or a Sky, the rebellion has nothing to register against.
In England we find dogs that were named Sturdy, Whitefoot, Hardy, Jakke, Bo and Terri. Anne Boleyn, one of the wives of King Henry VIII, had a dog named Purkoy, who got its name from the French ‘pourquoi’ because it was very inquisitive.
Have you spotted any good name-related quotes/articles/blog posts lately? Let me know!
Today happens to be International Tea Day, so, in honor of Jean-Luc Picard, let’s talk a bit about Earl Grey.
Earl Grey tea was probably named after Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey (1764-1845), who served as British Prime Minister in from 1830 to 1834. His actual connection to the tea is unknown. Here’s one theory:
The tea was specially blended by a Chinese mandarin for Charles, 2nd Earl Grey, to suit the water at Howick, using bergamot in particular to offset the taste of the lime in it. Lady Grey used it to entertain in London as a political hostess, and it proved so popular that she was asked if it could be sold to others.
So has anyone ever been named “Earl Grey”?
Yes, so far I’ve found close to 90 people with the first-middle combo “Earl Grey.” Only three were born in England (the earliest in 1831, while Charles Grey was Prime Minister). The rest were born in the U.S. and Canada, mostly in the late 1800s and early 1900s. One was born as recently as the 1980s.
It’s impossible to know how many were named with the tea in mind, but I’m sure at least a few were. (Earl Grey tea was available commercially starting in the 1880s.)
Finally, I should mention that Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey, had a whopping 16 children with his wife Mary, and that 15 of the 16 lived to adulthood. The 15 surviving children were named Louisa, Elizabeth, Caroline, Georgiana, Henry, Charles, Frederick, Mary, William, George, Thomas, John, Francis, Henry and William.