At Wedgwood we know how to throw a tea party like no other, and part of that means knowing how to successfully embrace the art of tea. The perfect tea set can enhance the tea experience, but where do you begin when choosing the optimum tea blend to pair it with?
Tea Tasting Tips with Tea Expert, Angela Pryce
Tell us about you, Angela. How did you become a Tea Expert?
I’ve enjoyed tea buying from lots of wonderful places around the world, it’s lovely that tea is grown in so many beautiful places. The whole world drinks tea, but wherever you travel they drink it in different ways, from Japanese Tea Ceremonies to British Afternoon Tea, to a more casual Ice Tea in the US. It’s fascinating!
I’ve since moved on from buying teas, and set up my own tea consultancy business. I work with retail brands, tea growers and farmers, and most recently on a project with the United Nations helping tea businesses in East Africa exporting more products into Europe.
From all your years of tea tasting, do you think you have a favorite tea blend?
The home of Wedgwood is in the UK, as such, what do you find to be the most popular type of tea in the UK?
What is important to consider when brewing the perfect cup of tea?
- You should consider these three things in equal measure to begin - the quality of the tea, the water and (of course) the teaware.
- When you can, use loose leaf tea for maximum flavor.
- If you have larger leaves the tea will take longer to brew i.e. large leaf takes 3-5 minutes of infusion time.
- With regards to water, if you live in a hard water area you should use a filter to remove the impurities. It makes a huge difference to flavor and how the tea looks.
- Finally, tea is about taking time out and making time for yourself, and that can be a moment to celebrate. Whether it’s from your favorite mug or fine bone china tea service, it’s very important to consider the teaware!
Do you have any other simple tea tasting tips or rules?
Aside from those mentioned, I follow some other very simple rules. These include, using freshly drawn water, using one teaspoon of tea per person plus one for the pot, and the temperature of your water is critical.
For black tea use boiling water, whereas 80 degrees is ideal for green tea and white tea. Sometimes people say green tea is too bitter, but it’s often because the water is too hot.
Do you have any ‘tea rituals’, for example, a specific daytime tea or night time tea?
I can never start my day without tea. And it’s got to be a strong black tea with milk to get me started, typically an English Breakfast blend.
Later when I’m working, I like to have Jade Oolong just loose in a mug. I tend to keep topping up with water throughout the day. The best thing about Oolong is that you can repeat infuse them, up to 3-5 times, so it’s a very cost-effective way of using quality ingredients.
And finally, which tea is best for Afternoon Tea?
Traditionally afternoon tea blends are lighter in character than a breakfast blend. Origins that work well include Darjeeling, and high grown Ceylon because they have more liveliness and a lighter character.
For Afternoon Tea, something you could consider is a Matcha (powered green tea from Japan). Matcha is a good way to move through an afternoon slump – simply whisk one for an instant pick me up. Green teas are a great source of l-theanine, it’s an amino acid that destresses the body. Where caffeine gives you the buzz, l-theanine calms you down. So the combination of caffeine and I-theanine creates this wonderful alert feeling of calm. It’s one of the reasons why Matcha has been used throughout history in settings such as Buddhist Tea Ceremonies.