Is there anything more British than a good cuppa? It’s an interesting National icon, considering tea has never historically been grown in the UK. Globally though, Britain is known for the way we drink our tea, which is different to most of the world: the stereotypical black ‘builders’ tea - strong with added milk and sugar.
In honour of National Tea Day this Saturday, we thought we’d take a look at our iconic English Breakfast, as well as the teas that are now just as popular on our shores and see why in 2016, the Health Council of the Netherlands suggested that people should drink between three and five cups of tea a day.
English Breakfast Tea
Named for us, but traditionally grown in India, Sri Lanka and Kenya, English Breakfast Tea is a blend of black tea. It’s stronger than the other teas on our list and is more oxidized – meaning the leaves are left in a climate-controlled room to turn darker. Black tea doesn’t lose it’s flavour like many other, lighter teas (like green) and has been known to be used as currency in the 19th century. PG Tips and Lipton are the biggest producers of black tea in the world.
Earl Grey Tea
Traditionally, Earl Grey Tea is a black tea blend, which is flavoured with oil of bergamot (an orange / lemon hybrid fruit). Legend has it that a Chinese tea master first blended the tea for Charles Grey (2nd Earl of Grey and UK Prime Minister in 1830) and his wife, Lady Grey, who was such a fan that she would only serve the citrus-inspired blend when entertaining guests. There are a number of variations of Earl Grey Tea which are all slightly different.
Unimaginatively, Darjeeling Tea is simply named for the district in India where it’s produced, using a Chinese variety of tea plant. Traditionally, Darjeeling is made as a black tea but increasingly is being produced as an oolong (lighter tea) and green (less oxidization). 87 different tea estates in Darjeeling have the right to produce Darjeeling Teas. Each year, they produce 9 million kgs of tea.
Matcha Green Tea
We’ve spoken at length about our love for Organic Matcha Green Tea. Matcha contains as much as 10 times the antioxidants found in green tea and is made from grinding the whole tea leaf into a powder form. The bright green of matcha comes from the excess chlorophyll, which is encouraged by covering the leaves of the tea plants with shade. Matcha has a distinct flavour and can now be found in everything from chocolate to ice creams.
Rooibos / Red Bush Tea
Southern Africa started the trend for Rooibos Tea, which has an earthy flavour. It’s grown on the Western Cape of South Africa. Much like black tea, Roobios goes through an oxidation process to get its colour and flavour. Unoxidised Roobios is also produced and is known as ‘green’ Roobios. It’s pretty diverse and can be served as espresso, latte or cappuccino! Sadly, climate change is threatening the Roobios as it is unique to the region in which it's grown.
Hailing from China, Oolong Tea is available in an array of styles, all with different flavours. The flavour variation comes from the way they’re processed. Leaves are rolled or wrap curled, then bruised or browned. The name Oolong means ‘black dragon tea’ but is also known as ‘dark green teas’.
So next time you reach for your morning cup of tea, you know where its come from to get to your mug!