“a hardened and shameless tea-drinker, who has, for twenty years, diluted his meals with only the infusion of this fascinating plant; whose kettle has scarcely time to cool; who with tea amuses the evening, with tea solaces the midnight, and, with tea, welcomes the morning.”
Dr Samuel Johnson’s review of an essay by Jonas Hanaway (a tea hater!) 1757
Anar-Tea in the UK
Tea is revered as a traditional British beverage; there are around 165 million cups drank daily and has a history spanning nearly 350 years. In our culture, there is always time for a cup of tea. Tea is associated with breaks, parties, meals, conversations, solitude, TV and books. Everything. Even when you go walking in the hills you bring a flask of tea with you. It is THAT important. The Chinese regard tea as one of the 7 necessities of life in terms of spiritual and social levels. When everything else fails, there is tea. Tea is a drink that brings about peace and comfort. There is something mystical about this humble drink that enables us to disconnect us from the world.
Alongside the rise of craft beer and locally roasted, ethically sourced coffee, local tea brewers are enjoying popularity.
How to brew the best cup of tea
- Use fresh water only. Re-boiled water will inhibit the taste of your tea.
- Pre-heat your teapot – this will keep your tea warmer for a longer amount of time.
- Bring water to a boil for black teas, oolongs and herbals, 80℃ for white and green teas.
- Add one teaspoon of tea leaves into a tea infuser – don’t squash it in as it needs room to move and enhance. Of course, if you are using bags this doesn’t matter.
- Pour water OVER the tea leaves – allow to infuse depending on the infusion time of the tea you are brewing.
- Remove tea infuser from the water, after about 3 -5 minutes. Then sit back and enjoy.
Find your blend in Northumberland
Bari Tea is located in Castle Quarters in the old market town of Alnwick. It all began in 2011 with a tea lover who had a dream. The dream is achieved by the array of teas they offer; there are about 30 loose leaf teas to choose from! The tea leaves are ethically sourced and chosen for their quality. Their unique blended tea, Breakfast Bari Tea, combines characteristics of both English and Scottish breakfast teas. Think full-bodied and rich with woody, smoky notes.
In order to produce a bari cuppa, they follow a simple 3 step set of rules: tea, temperature and time. They use fresh water for each tea and make the correct temperature depending on which leaves are used. For instance, with classic black tea leaves you can use boiled water, but with white tea, the delicate leaves need water off the boil at about 85c. Timing is also important, each individual tea needs a certain amount of time to brew to unleash the natural oils in the leaves to release its true tea potential.
Loose leaf is used as it seen as more beneficial than bagged tea. It is more economical as loose leaf tea and can be brewed multiple times. Loose leaf tea has more space to brew, the oils are released as is its aroma. This reflects in the flavour creating a less bitter taste. It is important to remove the tea leaves once it has been brewed for the suggested time.
Founded in 2013, The Northumberland Tea Company has taken great strides to become a national player against the likes of Yorkshire Tea. Northumberland Tea, based in Corbridge, are resolved to produce ethically sourced tea from plantations in Kenya, Assam and Ceylon. A contribution from every box sold is donated to the Bobby Robson Foundation, to support cancer treatment and detection, since they teamed up with Jack Charlton and the slogan ‘the best cup since 1966’! The tea comes bagged, making it convenient and quick to make a coosty cuppa. Northumberland Tea is produced without reducers, which affects the quality and taste, unlike many big company brands.
Tea & Kin is the sister of Coffee & Kin, the family-run bean emporium, based in Alnwick. The 100% speciality loose-leaf tea is bagged into pyramid infusers, allowing convenience and flavour to shine through each tea. Tea & Kin offer 5 varieties of tea; English Breakfast, Earl Grey, Green, Chai and Peppermint. Like Coffee & Kin, Tea & Kin is committed to being environmentally-friendly. For example, all the teas are sourced through the Ethical Tea Partnership and the pyramid bags are biodegradable. They also offer monthly subscriptions and sell tea accessories. They offer an insightful description of each tea and give helpful suggestions on how to enjoy. Check out the Sencha Green Tea from Japan, to be brewed up to 4 minutes with water just off the boil. Although it can be enjoyed any time of day, Tea & Kin recommend enjoying this tea with seafood and spicy fares.
Although technically a coffee roaster, seller and coffee maker, Mocha Mondo, based in Amble, sell Coffee Cherry Tea. Coffee Cherry Tea, also known as ‘cascara’, a Spanish word meaning ‘peel’ or ‘husk’, is technically a waste product from the production of coffee beans. The beans are inside the fruit and the skins are generally disposed of and used for things like fertiliser. Coffee Cherry Tea is making popular leaps around the world, especially in the USA, and now it has come to Northumberland. In countries where coffee grows, Coffee Cherry Tea is ubiquitous as it is cheaper than coffee. After the beans have been removed from the fruit, the skins are left out to dry like raisins.
It is still undecided whether it is a tea or a coffee. It is a caffeinated beverage, although less than coffee and tea. It smells, looks like and is brewed like a tisane (herbal tea) but it is a coffee derivative. Like tea and coffee, Coffee Cherry Tea is full of antioxidants, anti-inflammatories and polyphenols. The ‘tea’ has red fruit hints and an earthy rich flavour. Like other tisanes, you can add cinnamon, lemon or honey as extras.
Mocha Mondo’s Steps for a Refreshing Cup of Coffee Cherry Tea
- Take 1 dessert spoon (2g) of Coffee Cherry Tea and put into a teapot
- Fill with water just off the boil (about 400ml)
- Leave to infuse for 3-4 minutes
- Choose any additional flavourings – recommended by Mocha Mondo slice of root ginger or cinnamon stick
- Add additions, if having, and let it infuse for 1 minute
- Pour over lemon or Northumberland-made honey if desired
- Sit back and enjoy. It can be re-used throughout the day and the flavour can change.
Back to Reali-Tea
There are many tea varieties out there to try. There is a tea for every time of day. Wake up with a Northumberland Tea brew, have a Coffee Cherry Tea after lunch, enjoy a sustainable Tea & Kin green tea with your dinner and wind down before bed with a Peppermint loose leaf tea from Bari Tea, maybe even read the leaves when you’re finished. The allurement of tea is hidden inside its mysticism. It is part of a spiritual journey as part of everyday life and a warming comfort no matter what.
“If you are cold, tea will warm you; if you are too heated, it will cool you; if you are depressed, it will cheer you; if you are excited it will calm you.”
William Ewart Gladstone