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Tea not just a commodity…

Tea is an ever present component of British and global culture. According to the UK Tea Association Britons consume an average 2.6 cups of tea each day, making a staggering 165million cups countrywide per day!

As a nation a tea break is an essential part of everyday life but despite our obvious affinity for the beverage some might argue that by viewing the a cup of tea merely as an everyday commodity, with most tea sold pre packed in teabags, prepared quickly in a cup for only around 10 seconds and often with reboiled water, the British consumer is missing out on enjoying the benefits of a well researched, high quality cup.

Williamson Tea, tea farmers since 1869 certainly believe this is the case. Inspired by over 140 years of experience in the art of growing, selecting and blending fine teas, Williamson tea forms part of a growing trend of tea retailers who are seeking to develop the consumers understanding of the product, the story and chemistry behind it and how they can get the most from their cup.

Edward Magor, fifth generation of the Magor family to work in Williamson Tea states that it was when he joined the business and started to learn about blending teas from Master Blender Peter Badurdeen that he began to appreciate the unique characteristics and benefits of different teas. From high and slow grown floral flavours to the briskness of dry weather teas. “I underwent a pretty intensive learning period” says Edward, “tasting around 100 or more teas a day to develop my palate and understand the nuances of different blends.”

Sipping a cup of and unusual blend of Pure Green Tea Earl Grey, Edward goes on, “We like to be thorough, I studied agriculture at university to better understand the science and theory behind tea growing. I feel that it’s the intrinsic knowledge we have of our farms, build up over generations, that allows us to produce such high quality teas.

Our approach to producing tea is simple, we care for the soil and the tea bushes ensuring that the fertility is not just preserved but actively improved. Good soil structure is essential to the health of a plant, tea bushes can live for decades and the ‘terroir’ they grow on directly influences the liquors their teas produce. Our Mini Cru range for example features teas not just from single farms, but from specific areas on each farm, where the specific micro climates the bushes are exposed create unique teas and flavours.”

Kenyan teas are characterised by their brisk bright liquors and rich, red colour and are the mainstay of the British tea market’s blends. “Our farms specialise in producing bright liquoring teas, essential for punching flavour and colour through a teabag. Some producers make a much blacker leaf than ours, great to look at and favoured in some markets around the world but for us it’s all about the liquor, after all you drink a cup of tea rather than look at it!”

Hard or soft water can also have a huge effect on a cup of tea, with some brands retailing specific blends for different water types. “Our office in Newbury has terribly hard water” says Edward, “but we know that if a tea tastes good here, it will taste good throughout the country. It’s a great base line test!”

The future of teas, as with all products is buying direct from the source sustainably grown products. Removing excess ‘food miles’ and insuring that the consumer knows exactly what’s in their cup, where it’s from and how it’s grown.

#whatsinyourcup #sustainabletea #tea #futureoftea