A Brief History
Discover the ancient origins and fascinating history of tea!
These are blends that can come from more than one country or region and popular on the UK speciality tea market. You may be the kind of person who blends their own tea or has had an unusual tea somewhere in the world, if you are we want to hear from you, click here to tell us about it.
Traditionally a blend of Assam and Ceylon teas to create a pungent and flavoursome tea to help digest a full english breakfast and give a good brisk start to the day. The essence of early morning tea, or as the Indians call it "bed" tea, is its strength and ability to wake and stimulate the metabolism. Many English Breakfast blends also include tea from Africa to give a coppery brightness to the colour.
A blend of delicate Darjeeling tea and high-grown Ceylon tea to produce a refreshing and light tea, Afternoon Tea also makes an ideal companion to cucumber sandwiches, cream pastries and fruit cake. The essence of Afternoon Tea blends is not their strength but their flavour.
Some tea places offer a 'pot of tea', others have a 'pot of house blend tea'. This tea is equivalent to - if not better than - the type of tea most people buy to use at home. In tea trade language, it is known as a 'popular brand leading blend' . In catering terms it will be a Quality Award tea. It may be a loose leaf or tea bag, either way it's a work of art and can contain 15-35 different teas. These are blended to achieve a consistent quality flavour.
During the year or plucking season, adverse weather conditions can affect the quality of any of the teas. The blender will then have to find other teas that will produce the same flavour and characteristics. To do this they will taste between 200 and 1,000 teas a day and adjust the recipe so we can enjoy our favourite cup of tea all day, everyday.
These are real teas (Camellia sinensis), blended with fruit, spices or herbs. Fruit flavoured tea such as apple or blackcurrant, is real tea blended with fruit peel or treated with the natural fruit juice or oil known as zest. Spiced and herb teas, such as cinnamon, nutmeg or mint, are also real teas blended with spice or herb. Tisanes such as Camomile, Peppermint or Nettle, or the misnamed "fruit teas", do not contain one leaf of real tea.
One of the latest emerging trends in the tea market is bubble tea. This drink originated in Taiwan over 10 years ago and is also known as Tapioca Tea, Pearl Tea, Milk Tea, Booboo, Hen Zhu NIA Cha and variations on these names. The two main ingredients of this cold beverage are tapioca balls and milk tea. Several varieties exist and can include exotic fruit flavourings such as Papaya, Honeydew and Taro as well as ice cream, but the "bubble" comes from the round, gummy tapioca balls that are boiled in the tea flavourings. Kids in Taiwan call these balls "QQ" which means 'chewy' in Chinese, in the West they are, the popular term is "booboo" which is slang for female breasts.
In the past few years, Bubble Tea has become increasingly fashionable in areas such as New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, Vancouver and the Bay area where it is drunk with large colourful straws.
'Chai', (pronounced as a single syllable and rhymes with 'pie') is the word for tea in many parts of the world. It is a centuries-old beverage that has played an important role in many cultures. Chai, from India is basically spiced milky tea and is becoming increasingly popular all over the world. In the United States Chai has caught on and is being sold as, 'Tea Latte' a popular alternative to its coffee namesake. It is generally made up of rich black tea, heavy milk, a combination of spices and some form of sweetener. In traditional Indian recipes the spices vary from region to region but the most common are, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and pepper.
Iced Tea was first drunk at the 1904 World Trade Fair in St Louis where the extremely hot weather and demand for cold drinks led Englishman, Richard Blechynden to pour tea into glasses filled with ice cubes.
More than 80 % of all the tea consumed in the US is served as iced tea. So, already a very popular beverage oversees, it is now becoming more popular in the UK. Iced Tea in Europe is one of the fastest growing soft drinks segments, with consumption tripling over the last ten years. To brew iced tea either Ceylon or China Keemun will show the best results.