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Membership of the prestigious Tea Guild is strictly by invitation only and when a tea outlet is interested in becoming a member they are made aware of the criteria and standards expected and subsequently visited by an incognito tea Inspector who checks them out. If the establishment then meets our standards they are invited to become a member and upon payment of our annual membership fee can enjoy the many benefits and advantages that membership brings.
Applications for Tea Guild membership can either be made on-line, by telephone on 01483 750599, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
To ensure that the criteria for membership set by The Tea Guild meets our high standards, the establishment must then pass an initial inspection by acknowledged, and always, incognito Tea Industry Inspectors. Following a successful inspection and payment of our annual Tea Guild membership fee, the outlet is invited to become a member and The Tea Guild maintains a watching brief throughout the year to ensure that standards of excellence are maintained.
Cleanliness and décor are taken into account. Beyond exacting standards of hygiene, our inspectors also look out for stains on teacloths, dust on decorations and generally anything that may be distasteful to a paying customer.
Pottery or China in good condition is expected, our eagle-eyed tasters will spot cracks, chips or stains on the crockery! Metal milk and water jugs are not favoured.
Staff should be friendly and well presented and staff that has a reasonable knowledge of the different varieties of teas on offer will score extra points.
Service should be efficient and attentive.
Lumped sugar (covered if possible) presented with tongs.
Offered & Served Teas should be listed on your menu. Try to include as many speciality teas as possible, we recommend that you use both leaf and bag tea.
Fresh, tasty home-baked foods are looked for, a wide selection on offer, served attractively and stored hygienically.
To cater to all tastes and diets, full fat, semi-skimmed and skimmed milk should be available; semi-skimmed milk being offered as the norm. You should also offer a slice of lemon.
Afternoon tea should be treated as an 'experience', therefore you should offer your customers a relaxing, interesting and enjoyable environment in which to enjoy it.
Inspectors give marks for the following tea criteria:
The teapots, cups and saucers, general crockery and cutlery chosen by individual tea places can vary enormously and should link with the overall style, theme and atmosphere of the venue. A top quality tea room may offer different brewing and drinking vessels according to the types of tea they serve.
Pots made from certain materials are not suitable for the successful brewing of tea. These are aluminium, pewter, enamel, uncoated iron and plastic. They may taint the tea or emit undesirable substances into the infusion.
The best teapots are made from porcelain, bone china, glazed stoneware, unglazed Chinese red earthenware, silver and glass. These lose heat slowly from the outside and maintain a good temperature inside. When the visual effect of the brewing of the leaves and the colour of the liquor is required, glass is excellent.
The size and shape of the teapot is very important. It is essential that the correct amount of tea and water are used in each pot and that the leaves have enough room to move around in order to absorb water and release their colour and flavour into the water.
There is no doubt that porcelain and bone china make the best teacups. They keep the tea hot, they are more elegant and they are easy to lift.
But depending on the style and theme of a teashop, different materials may be used. However, the heavy stoneware and pottery often used for catering tablewares allow the tea to cool more quickly than porcelain and bone china and are generally less acceptable to most people.
The shape of cups is also important. A wide top allows the tea to cool faster while taller, narrower shapes are excellent for piping the aroma of the tea. This is important with some of the fine China green and oolong teas.
For traditional British tea drinking, cups and saucers are best. For oriental teas (oolongs and green teas from China and Japan) little bowls or tall straight-sided cups with no handles are culturally correct and add an interesting and colourful element to the tea drinking experience.
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