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Tea Tasting at the East India Company: Full Flavour Delicacy

Published 31 March 2011

The tea tasting event at the East India Company fulfilled the curiosity of tea-lovers. It was also a boost for the senses. Apart from the aroma and flavour, the tea tasting experience was visually appealing too.

Hosted by tea expert Jane Pettigrew and the East India Company‘s tea master Lalith Lenadora, the first tea on the list was Golden Tips, a rare white tea grown at 6000 feet in Sri Lanka. One can see that it is indeed Lenadora’s favourite as he described: “It is a gentle taste of sweet and flowery champagne coloured tea, rich in antioxidants and very refreshing.”

Lenadora is not the only fan of this white tea. Top-model Kate Moss is fond of it, too.

Tasting green tea was a delicate delight – and we tasted three great samples. The highlight of the three was Dragonwell or Lung Ching, a unique flat-shaped green tea leaf. Its delicate flavour makes it delightful because it leaves no bitterness in the mouth. On the contrary, it is pleasantly sweet and refreshing.

Chum mee is a total revelation. Produced in China and known as “Precious Eyebrows”, the leaves are carefully hand rolled to the shape of eye-brows. This tea produces a pale lime-coloured liquid and has a very plum-like sweetness in mouth. Jane Pettigrew recognised it’s ideal with Chinese food.

The chance for tasting a classic Japanese green tea came with a sample of Sencha. A more yellowish-coloured tea, very much alike to the Chinese teas earlier, despite the fact that it is steam-dried. Of course, it is a match for Japanese food.

The ultimate delight came with the blooming tea Sacred Heart. A darker liquor, very aromatic but above all, a tea that is a pleasure for the eyes. It’s a hand-made bulb with a jasmine blossom inside that unfurls with the brew into an amazing floral display.

The black tea was honoured by an Earl Grey blended with Bergamot. The combination of earl grey and bergamot is a standard one, but the East India Company followed the traditional recipe, which includes Neroli oil. It is indeed a full body, aromatic tea not to forget.

Tips and tricks

Tea expert Jane Pettigrew revealed the best practice to fully enjoy these teas.

For quantities, it is advised to add about 2.5 to 3 teaspoons in 200 ml water.

Brewing time and boiling temperatures varies according to the tea. Black teas or herbal teas are best brewed in boiling water. Do not use the same boiled water to top up your cup, as these leaves release the best flavour in freshly boiled water.

One would need a thermometer for green teas, as they don’t go well with hot, boiling water. Instead these leafs taste fantastic at 70C-75C. Boiling water is not an issue when drinking black tea, and indeed it is best to use boiling water to let the blossoming happen.

Brewing time is the last important step to consider. The general guideline is that the smaller the leaves, the quicker the brew.

One last secret told by the East India Company’s tea master. The best way to get a boost of caffeine is to drink a cup of black tea in the morning. Lighter teas, however, are best for any other time and occasion.

More pictures from the tea tasting event:

All pictures in this article copyright by Anders Stromberg