I have been enamored by Donwton Abbey lately. Apart from unconsciously influencing my manner and use of English (much to the bewilderment of some friends), it dramatically spiked my intake of tea.
Being a purist, I refused to limit my selection on readily-available teabags in the supermarket. I decided to explore something that seemed a bit more “proper” to me, TWG.
Okay, honestly. I did not try TWG in Manila, given the length of the line it had when it first opened its Greenbelt branch. A few weeks after it opened here, I had to fly off to HK for business (I have a client for my wine consultancy there), and ended up having my first TWG in IFC mall Hong Kong. To make my trip more meaningful, I decided to order a pot of their “Weekend in Hong Kong”, and a love affair between me and loose leaf tea was born. I of course did not limit my selection to the name, so I decided to figure out what my preference is.
I got home, still daunted by long lines in TWG. Then, I got to Santis, and I found the Twining’s tea I mentioned in a previous post. Sitting through an episode of Downton Abbey, I decided to experiment on adding cream and sugar (okay, non-dairy creamer and Stevia).
It was BLISS. I found a little patch of heaven on a rainy afternoon. I looked at the back of the tea’s can and it said it “combines the rich, malty second flush Assam from the Brahmaputra Valley in North Eastern Assam, with the smooth, mellow Yunnan from South Western China”.
I decided to try to find a similar option in TWG. Unfortunately, the Assam TGFOP1 tea was not available then, and neither was the Yunnan. So I settled for the romantic option of their Paris-Singapore tea and reminisce about our honeymoon in Paris through Singapore. Made me feel better. Being the beverage geek that I was (and am), I found a TEA BOOK and decided to buy that.
I went home and on reading the book, I found out that both Assam and Yunnan teas fall under Black Tea, one of the 10 varieties. There are also white (refreshing), yellow (expensive, sweet and flowery), green (good for your metabolism), blue (has the fragrance of green tea but with the richness of black tea, something I’m keen to try soon), red, matured (improves with age), tea flowers (buds that bloom in a cup; transparent tea pot HIGHLY recommended), compressed (more often used in bathwater for medicinal and relaxation purposes, something I also want to try), and blends.
Since I seem to be into black tea, I looked closer into it and found a few tips:
1) They are classified according to strength and leaf grades
2) Easy tip: The number ‘1’ when added to the grade defines the tea as of the finest quality within that grade
3) Orange does not indicate the flavor nor fruit; but originated from the Dutch royal family, known as house of Orange
4) It’s not easy to memorize the grades, but apparently the longer the acronym, the better the quality. They found S.F.T.G.F.O.P. (Special Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe) as the “most exquisite”.
What I also found interesting in the book is that there are other uses for tea (apart from beverage consumption):
1) Facial Toner
2) Blond Highlights
3) Oily Scalp Treatment
4) Treatment of Chapped Lips
5) To Soothe Skin Post-Waxing
6) Tanning Sans Sun
7) To Deodorize Shoes and Feet
8) To Strengthen Teeth and Nails
9) To Relieve Tired Eyes
Not bad, tea… Not bad.
Do let me know how you like your tea. I shall get back to watching Sherlock. 😉 Cheers!