A tea lover’s life is not complete until they create their own tea. I’ve tried several times but it was not until attending a blending class at Smith Teas that I made a good cuppa.
It feels like a cross between being a mad scientist and creating your own work of art…
We tasted 14 different teas in various combinations (talk about caffeine jitters!) We learned the correct words, like wine, for tea’s characteristics. Things like astringent, biscuity, strong, vegetative…
As a lover of strong black tea with milk, it’s no surprise I stuck mainly to Assams. I selected a mixture of 3 Assams, a dash of Ceylon Nimbula and a pinch of Nilgiri. With the addition of black currant and peach skin essences, it’s a delicious and strong cuppa for the summer.
I call it “Garden Party” – hearkening back to British summer picnics, croquet, and a beautiful 1920s short story by Katherine Mansfield.
I highly recommend taking a tea blending class, especially at Smith Teas if your plans take you near Portland. ☕️
#TeaTuesday is here! And helping me wake up is No. Six Depot's English Breakfast. No. Six Depot is a small-batch café and gallery in the Berkshires, Massachusetts. They make and serve their own tea and coffee, and what looks like amazing food.
The gold tin is modern and simple. Once you open it, you see a mound of dark tea with hints of red. There are only a few leaves, most of the tea is "Fannings Grade", possibly mixed with "Broken Leaf Grade".
The brewed tea is incredibly strong. I'd suggest using less than a teaspoon per 8 oz cup as a little goes a very long way. The flavor is good but it has none of the nuances you'll get in a "Whole Leaf Grade". It finishes with a bold, astringent mouth feel.
Overall, a strong tea to wake you up, very much suited to milk and sugar. This would probably be a good tea to use for making tea-flavoured ice cream, as the flavour is quite concentrated.
Today's #TeaTuesday features an Earl Grey from Sing Tehus. This tea came all the way from a shop in Kompagnistræde (Copenhagen's Latin Quarter). They specialize in green teas, but they do have a few black teas.
Inside the elegant box is an equally elegant tea tin. The tea itself is dark with a few golden pieces. I'm guessing it is Golden Broken Orange Pekoe (GBOP), which means it is a higher quality broken leaf tea.
Tea goes from Dust grade (tiny particles) to Fanning Grade (dust and some small broken leaves) to Broken Leaf Grade (high percentage of broken leaves) to Whole Leaf Grade (high percentage of whole leaves with tips).
Brewed up, this is a fairly strong Earl Grey with bright, citrusy notes. The bergamot is more lemony than floral, but it still pairs nicely with milk.
A good tea for morning or afternoon, and can be paired with mild to medium flavoured food.
Are you a black tea and milk kinda person, or a green tea lover?
Today’s #TeaTuesday is Bellocq tea atelier’s The Earl Grey. Bellocq’s a luxury tea brand with many unique blends. The gorgeous tins will set you back a bit, but I have a weak spot for tea tins.
Bellocq’s take on Earl Grey pairs 100% Ceylon black tea with blue cornflowers and bergamot essence. Bergamot is an Italian citrus fruit. Cornflowers don’t add flavour, they’re purely aesthetic.
Earl Grey is said to be named after Charles Grey, the 2nd Earl of Grey and Prime Minister of England (1830-1834). Rumours say that a Chinese tea master blended it for the earl as a gift. No one knows if the bergamot was added just because or to counteract the water at Howick Hall.
Bellocq’s tea looks high quality. I’m going to guess it is Flowery Orange Pekoe (FOP), which has a high proportion of tips to whole leaf. A leaf that includes the tip has the greatest flavour and nuance, so they’re the most expensive.
Brewed up, The Earl Grey No. 35 is a delicate tea that would be great for an afternoon reading a book or a tea party. The bergamot brings a lovely perfume and flavour without being overwhelming.
It is not robust like an Assam, so I suggest enjoying it with a splash of milk and a plate of mild food. Perhaps a dill cucumber sandwich or a Victoria sponge with fresh raspberry jam… mmm…