In England, the first tea drinkers complained bitterly to merchants about the huge changes in taste and colour of their favourite beverage.
The good merchants, although absolutely agreeing with their customers, didn’t have a clue on how to fix this problem. Then, on a beautiful day of 1870, serendipity struck. Robert Twining, on the verge of nervous breakdown due to delayed shipment, decided to mix all the teas left in his shop. And then, lo and behold, miracle of miracles, delighted customers couldn’t get enough of this extraordinary blend! THE method to have consistency in a pot of tea all year round, was born, and with it, standardized teas. Among them, the famous English Breakfast tea, devised by a Scottish Tea Master and Earl Grey. Legend has it that it was specially crafted for Charles, Earl Grey. This bergamot-flavoured treasure conquered the world in no time.
Most commercial teas are blends of several teas of different origins. Only top of the range teas are non-blended, grown on a single estate by a single producer and top of the top, with single cultivar leaves from the same crop.
The first ever scented tea was born in China, during the song dynasty (960-1279). A little genius, totally balled over by the intoxicating fragrance of jasmine, decided to roll green tea leaves in the delicate flowers. The result of this prodigious and prodigal process was an exquisite and delicate beverage, with the added bonus of mega health benefits of both green tea and jasmine flowers. Today, the finest jasmine teas are made with first flush tea leaves, picked between early March and late April. They are stored till August, when the jasmine flowers blooms. The tight buds are picked around midday, In the evening, when it’s cooler, the flower petals open and the process of scenting the tea can begin. One the best is the Yin Hao, James Bond’s favourite.
The lovely flowering or blooming tea balls are made with tender tea buds, hand-wrapped and bound around jasmine, chrysanthemum or various other flowers. When steeped in water, they gently unfurls to release the flowers.
They are the Queen’s weakness. She watches, with royal delight, this splendid sight in her royal transparent teapot.
All teas can be flavoured with flowers, fruit, spices, chocolate or smoke like Lapsang Souchong. You can make your own by adding cardamom or vanilla pods, dried apple peels, rose petals, citrus peels, etc. to teas you find a little bland. This will boost them with extra aroma and added health benefits.