Well as you may well know by now, tea is the second most consumed drink in the world, second only to water and with so much variety it’s easy to see why. From a good, strong black tea, to a light, refreshing green, to the tarty fruits and the more unusual Pu Erh - we've got you covered!
When most people think of tea they typically think of a brew of steeped dried leaves from the broad leaf perennial evergreen plant, Camellia Sinensis (the tea plant). However, the term in its true sense refers to the whole plant, not just the leaves.
Tea is often widely used to describe other drinks where ingredients are steeped in water, however these are more accurately known as Fruit Tisanes or Herbal Infusions as they do not in fact contain any tea leaf as an ingredient.
An often-surprising fact to people outside the tea industry is that all teas (Black, Green, Oolong, White, and Pu’erh) come from the same plant. Originally native to Asia, the traditional tea-growing countries are China, Japan, India and Sri Lanka but in recent years, it is now being grown around the world.
The tea plant grows best in loose, deep soil, at high altitudes, and in sub-tropical climates. According to the history of tea, the first recorded consumption was in China, as early as the 10th century BC. Once considered a drink for the wealthy upper classes, it wasn’t until the 19th century that tea drinking became a common pastime for all the social classes.
Loose leaf tea is known as ‘Orthodox Tea', is handpicked selecting only the two young leaves and the bud. The type of tea produced depends on what actions are taken next....
Did you know that we are growing our own Suki Tea here in Northern Ireland? Yes we are slightly mad, no actually we're curious, interested and willing to learn (we'll go with this!) - anyway check out this post for some video footage and the full story!
What are the different tea types
All tea comes from the same plant – camellia sinensis – it is how it’s grown, harvested and then crafted that produces the different types we see today.
White tea is the least processed as the tea leaves are simply just dried. It is the lightest, most delicate tea, retaining the highest levels of antioxidants. The purest and most delicate of tea types, with usually a lighter, hay like flavour.
This is our favourite white tea - delicate White peony tea infused with the delicate flavour of elderflower and decorated with pretty marigold blossoms, a sophisticated flavour, with a peachy, elderflower aroma this offers up a delicate blend will allow you to take that deep breath and relax. Perfect as an iced tea or with lemonade, also a perfect addition to that G&T you are dreaming of!
Green tea is fired or steamed at high temperatures shortly after picking. From Sencha green tea to Jasmine infused dragon pearls we have something to suit a green tea beginner and those green tea connoisseurs! Bursting with antioxidants (the stay healthy and young ones) these green teas are a must for every kitchen cupboard. Green tea sencha works wonderfully with seafood, salads, or chicken.
Oolong lies artfully between green and black tea, being partially oxidized. The lighter are green and fruity whereas the darker are roasted and nutty. A traditional semi-oxidized Chinese tea, a complex, intriguing and multi-faceted tea that holds the most delicate and soft flavours.
Black tea is fully oxidised to bring out the deepest flavours. Tanzania and Assam are the source for our Irish Breakfast Tea Blend, here there are machines that roll the tea to turn it from a leaf shape to a twizzled smaller leaf that can then be dried. These machines were all made in Belfast in the 1950's by Sirocco works, a leading manufacturer of tea equipment. Engineered in Belfast, a strong, full of flavour brew.
Teas can be scented with fresh flowers like jasmine or rose, or flavoured with citrus like bergamot oil, cocoa nibs can be added even coconut for a real variety of black teas check out our exciting list here; From the classic blends like Breakfast Tea and Earl Grey to the more delicate First Flush Darjeeling and the 4 Chocolate Teas, we have it all!
Pu-erh or Pu'er tea is a variety of fermented dark tea produced in Yunnan province, China. Fermentation is a tea production style in which in this case the tea leaves undergo fermentation and oxidation after they are dried and rolled, giving Pu Erh that unique earthy, woody character.
These aren’t really teas at all but infusions of dried herbs like chamomile, hibiscus, lemongrass and mint. Our herbal range is full of colour and taste, each blend offering a fantastic taste experience, from a Rooibos to a classic Peppermint, all naturally caffeine free. Some must trys include Spiced Pumpkin Pie, Ayurvedic and Lemongrass & ginger
Rooibos is harvested and processed in a similar fashion to the Camillia sinensis tea plant. When harvested, the bushy rooibos plant is cut by hand and its stems and leaves are bound, then cut or bruised to encourage oxidation. Oxidation, or exposure to oxygen, is what brings out the plant’s essential oils and helps the leaves develop their rich color and flavor. The more oxidized the rooibos, the redder in colour and sweeter and richer in flavour it becomes.
Rooibos is one of the healthy ones, plus it's naturally caffeine free so good alternative for many. Redbush Tea is all Organic and although there are little studies on the herb it is known that it carries very high antioxidants, more than that of green tea albeit slightly different types. It is also well known for its medicinal qualities, however as we are not doctors, we have decided that if you're going to drink this Rooibos Tea for health reasons it might as well taste as good as possible!