Tea for You

A few weeks back,
I hosted a group traveling through London

(... does that sound really random...)

After weeks in India, Morocco, and Boston,
they were on the final leg of their trip...
and what better place to end a pilgrimage for tea than London?

And, boy, did we do it right.

We had fancy high tea at St. James
in the historic department store, Fortnum & Mason.

Not for the everyday treat
at £45 per person...

but with lunch offering like Lobster Salad
or the Crab & Saffron Tart,
you definitely are paying for quality.

look at that delicious hunk of lobster. mama mia.

The main course is served between 
savoury amuse bouches
and the delightfully obtrusive tea cakes & scones.

Heaven help me.

The next day, we went to Twinings 
(the original storefront along the Strand)
for a tea tasting.

Holy cow.

I mean, I drink tea.

I drink a lot of tea.

To be honest, 
I kinda consider myself a bit of a tea expert.

After our tea tasting, 
I realized I am actually just ignorant.

The making of tea is a bit complex.

It was like a visit to a vineyard
hearing them describe the method & process 
behind each variation.

I had no idea so much thought & work went into my daily drinks.

Who needs champagne when you can have 
20 cups of Darjeeling for half the price?

Ok... I guess it's not exactly the same.

Maybe you are smarter than me 
(this is very possible),
but just in case you're as clueless as I was,
here are some things I learned during my morning at Twinings:

1. Most tea comes from the same type of plant.
Green tea, black tea, white tea... you name it.
The variation of color comes from different parts of the tea leaves 
and the differed time of fermentation.

Yes! Not all, but black teas are.
However, unlike wine-
it's only fermented in hot air for a matter of hours.

3. Tea is marked up about 3000x from the fields to the store.
Isn't that crazy?

4. When tasting tea, 
you make a very loud slurping sound
to allow half tea/ half oxygen in your mouth.

It's not very proper sounding, but proper form it is!

Twinings did an amazing tasting for us,
and I would highly recommend them for groups traveling through London.

I mean, if they have been the official purveyor to the monarchy for centuries...
I'm sure you might like them, too.

*All Twinings photos are taken by Noah Darnell, The Fledging Photographer.
Posted on June 23, 2011 and filed under "London", "hot tea", "tea time", "work".