Time for Tea
'Tea' to most of us means black tea, a blend taken from various regions of India, often served with milk, sometimes with sugar, to offset the bitterness. These days we're lucky to have access to an extensive range of flavours, and like wine, there's a tea to match every food, time of day or occasion. Here are a few of our favourites...
A wonderful palate refresher, Earl Grey is tea gently flavoured with bergamot, a citrus oil extracted from the Seville orange. If you like Earl Grey, then Lady Grey is a natural step – in addition to bergamot are oranges and lemons, for a really refreshing, zingy taste, best drunk black.
A single origin tea that's quite different from Darjeeling, Assam boasts a stronger flavour with almost malty notes and works splendidly as a first-thing-in-the-morning tea or after a meal. There's also something about Assam that lends itself well to balancing sweeter foods, and it goes exceedingly well with chocolate cake.
Green & White Teas
Subtler in flavour than black teas but boasting higher levels of antioxidants, green tea is tea that hasn't been oxidised (which turns it black), whereas white tea is made from unopened buds, resulting in a golden tea with very little caffeine that's the healthiest tea of all. Best drunk without milk, both come in a wide variety of flavours. Green tea with spearmint is a wonderful digestif after a meal.
Few teas divide opinion like Lapsang Souchong, a black tea traditionally smoked over pinewood, resulting in a smoky tea, quite unlike any other. Something of a love-or-hate tea, instead of viewing it as an alternative to your regular cuppa, try it as a drink in its own right; black, with milk or with lemon. Irresistible with smoked salmon sandwiches.
A single origin tea named after the area in north-east India where it grows, Darjeeling is a delicate tea, lighter than the average blend and a versatile beverage that perfectly complements a range of foodstuffs at afternoon tea, including canapés, mini sandwiches and cakes. Exclusively grown in Darjeeling, it is often referred to as the 'champagne of teas' and with good reason.