Finding your signature tea
With so many loose leaf teas to try, it’s hard to know where to begin. Our Tea-Lady Henrietta Lovell from the Rare Tea Co. shares her top tips.
Not sure where to start in the world of loose leaf tea? Henrietta has plenty of advice for those looking to find which tea will suit them best:
• If you already drink tea, the first thing to do is try two cups of tea side-by-side: one made with a tea bag, one made with loose leaf tea – the first will be flat and one dimensional, the second will have layers of flavour.
• Not a tea drinker? Start simple with a white tea, as these are delicate in flavour and are perfect for those who aren’t fans of the strong flavours and aromas in black tea. Rare Tea Co.’s Jasmine Silver Tip is a firm favourite with first-time tea drinkers.
• Experiment with different teas. Hotels are the perfect place to do this, with knowledgeable staff to guide you through the menu and the opportunity to try a variety of teas in small quantities.
• Don’t rely on organic and Fairtrade marks – these are not always indicators of quality. The red tape and money required for farms to be certified mean that small producers can’t afford to qualify. The small suppliers used by the Rare Tea Co. have been making tea for thousands of years – so they must be doing something right! Henrietta ensures that the tea is only picked in the spring, so there is no need for chemicals (while not being certified organic, Henrietta requires all of her tea to be tested to ensure if meets the same standards); and by trading directly, she ensures full traceability and knows the famers aren’t being exploited.
Five teas to try
1. Jasmine Silver Tip – this silver tip white tea is scented with fresh jasmine flowers over six nights. Once the preserve of Chinese Emperors.
2. Green whole leaf tea – made in the mountains of Fujian, China the leaves are fired in a wok over charcoal. Green teas aren’t all about being health consciousness – most people think green tea is bitter, but if you buy whole leaf tea, you’ll get so much more flavour (and remember, don’t add boiling water, otherwise you’ll burn the leaves).
3. Longjing – translated as ‘Dragon Well’, this tea is pressed into the shape of a feather. Chillies are a popular ingredient in the region’s food, so the tea needs a robust flavour to stand up to it.
4. Nepalese Himalayan Hand-Rolled – made in small batches at high altitude, the tea’s natural sugars give flavours of dark chocolate and butterscotch.
5. Malawi Antlers – an incredibly rare tea (in fact, the farmer only releases 40kg a year – all of which is bought by the Rare Tea Co.). Only the stems are used and these provide stunning flavours of apricots and peaches.
Find out more about the Rare Tea Co. on their website.