Tea – The backbone of any British Gentleman

How could we survive without tea, the tea break or maybe high tea?

Coffee…ugh!! Much as I have tried to appreciate its distinctive flavour over the years I just can’t. I am a tea drinker through and through, from leaf to bag…my preference is fresh leaf, in particular Fortnum and Masons ‘Fountain’ Blend:

‘Northern India’s contrasting styles of tea – dark, malty Assam and the lighter Darjeeling – are not usually combined, but in the spirit of the innovative traditions of Fortnum’s Fountain restaurant, they have been united here to great effect. Light, yet stimulating, this is ideal after lunch as a post-prandial refresher’.

Taste and Strength
Light and bright, an unusual combination 

When to Drink
Best in the afternoon 

Origin
Assam and Darjeeling, India 

Brewing Information
Use boiling water and brew for 3-5 minutes depending on taste. Serve with milk or brew lighter and drink without milk. 

Storage advice
Airtight container, preferably a tea caddy

and for later the cold dark winter nights I would certainly recommned ‘Spice Imperial’ by Whittard of Chelsea.

Producer: 
Whittard of Chelsea, 184 Kings Road, London, England

Tea Type: 
Black – a blend of oriental teas with spice and orange

Tea Packing: 
Loose tea

Net Weight: 
125g

Remark: 
Flavoured Tea

Collection Number: 
1760

Both of these are from old well established Tea Houses, these are my favourites along with many other great blends and Fortnum and Masons is well worth a visit for the decor alone.

However Tea was first referenced in a London newspaper, The ‘Mercurius Politicus’ in an advert from September 1658.

The ‘China Drink’ as it was described was called ‘Tcha’ by the Chinese which soon became Tea but it was the marriage of Charles II to Portuguese princess and lover of tea Catherine of Braganza. She made the drink a very fashionable beverage first at court, and then among the wealthy classes as a whole. It was then that the East India Company began to import tea into Britain, its first order for 100lbs of China from Java being placed in 1664.

Tea is traditionally classified based on the techniques with which it is produced and processed.

White tea:Wilted and unoxidized
Yellow tea: Unwilted and unoxidized, but allowed to yellow
Green tea: Unwilted and unoxidized
Oolong: Wilted, bruised, and partially oxidized
Black tea: Wilted, sometimes crushed, and fully oxidized
Post-fermented tea: Green tea that has been allowed to ferment/compos

Since the 18th century Great Britain has been the largest per capita tea consumers in the world, with each person consuming on average 2.5 kg per year.

preparing for High Tea!

As tea spread though all classes in the 19th century, people started to lay out tea gardens and hold tea dances such was the Victorian fondness for the superior blend.

Afternoon Tea for the Victorians was held to be an upper class past time, even today if you have £55 spare you can experience a wonderful afternoon tea at Harrods but there are quite a few other venues in and around the capital that are a little cheaper if that is a little too rich for your taste.

Today drink 165 million cups a day and each year import around 144 thousand tons of tea. Tea in Britain is traditionally brewed in a warmed china teapot, I have a Brown Betty which was considered excellent in the Victorian era due to the design of the pot which allowed the tea leaves more freedom to swirl around as the water was poured into the pot, releasing more flavour. My grans advice was to heat the pot first and then add one spoonful of tea per person and one for the pot. Milk is usually added to the cups first to avoid any cracking of the porcelain.

And we finish with advice from the UK Tea Council on how to make the perfect cup of tea:

Use a good quality loose leaf or bagged tea
This must be stored in an air-tight container at room temperature
Always use freshly drawn boiling water
In order to draw the best flavour out of the tea the water must contain oxygen, this is reduced if the water is boiled more than once.
Measure the tea carefully
Use 1 tea bag or 1 rounded teaspoon of loose tea for each cup to be served
Allow the tea to brew for the recommended time before pouring
Brewing tea from a bag in a mug? Milk in last is best

Tea               From          Type                                      Brew           Milk

Gunpowder China Green 3-4 minutes without
Jasmine China Green flavoured with jasmine flowers 2-3 minutes without
Oolong China or Taiwan Oolong 5-7 minutes without
Lapsang Souchong China or Taiwan Black 4-5 minutes without
Sencha Japan Green 2-2 1/2 minutes without
Genmaicha Japan Green flavoured with popped rice and corn 3-4 minutes without
Darjeeling India Black 2-3 minutes without
Assam India Black 3-4 minutes with or without
Ceylon Uva Sri Lanka Black 3 minutes with or without
Ceylon Dimbula Sri Lanka Black 3-4 minutes with or without
Kenya Kenya Black 2-3 minutes with
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