You can’t drink Champagne every day! Even the wealthiest lotto millionaire needs a cuppa every now and then. But where do ‘moneybags’ go to buy their teabags? Well, Whittard of course. Whittard has been supplying quality tea to discerning tea drinkers since 1886.
Bags! Forget bags. Loose leaf is how real aficionados drink their tea. What’s more, we take our favourite beverage in a multitude of ways. Black tea, green tea, herbal and speciality teas, we English drink it all. But what is the difference, and what is the best way to get a brew on? Here are a few tips from the guys at Whittard themselves. Don’t forget the cucumber sandwiches!
Black tea is fully oxidised, meaning that molecules in the tea react with oxygen to give the leaves a rich, robust flavour. Aside from that, black tea can vary hugely in taste: a delicate Darjeeling could hardly be more different from a sweet, malty Assam or a smoky Lapsang Souchong.
Black teas are unique for being the only completely oxidised type of tea, giving them a distinctively full body and rich, malty taste.
More mature leaves are usually chosen for black tea. The leaves are laid out on racks to dry for several hours. Rolling the leaves in large drums triggers oxidation. Enzymes in the leaves react with oxygen, changing their taste. Finally, the leaves are dried, sorted and packed.
How To Brew
Black tea is more robust than other tea types, so don’t hold back: Whittard recommend brewing in freshly boiled water for 3–5 minutes. An exception is First Flush Darjeeling, which is unusually delicate for black tea and should be brewed at around 90°C for no longer than 3 or 4 minutes.
You Should Try
The core difference between green and black tea is oxidation. While black tea is oxidised to change its flavour and appearance, green tea is heated to stop oxidation – preserving that fresh taste and green colour that makes it famous.
Many of the best green teas are found in Japan or China, whose different methods of steaming and firing to stop oxidation can have a big effect on the final cup. A fired green tea like Gunpowder Green tends to have a slightly nutty or smoky flavour, while steamed Japanese Gyokuro has a peas-in-a-pod freshness. Whittard got creative with many of their green teas – why not try a flavoured blend like Goji Açaí?
Unlike black tea, green tea is heated before oxidation can take place – preserving its delicate, refreshing taste.
The delicate bud and top two leaves are best for green tea. The leaves are laid out on racks to dry for 1–3 hours. To prevent oxidation, the leaves are fired or steamed and “fixed”. Most green teas are rolled to release their aromatic oils. Finally, the leaves are dried, sorted and packed.
How To Brew
Green tea is more delicate than black tea, and should never be brewed with boiling water: the heat extracts tannins, giving your tea a bitter, astringent flavour. Whittard recommend using water off the boil (around 80°C) – leave the kettle after boiling for five minutes, then pour and infuse for 2–3 minutes.
You Should Try
Fruit & Herbal Infusions
Whittard’s fruit and herbal infusions don’t technically contain tea: instead, they’re blended from fruit, herbs, spices and flowers. This means that all of their infusions – with the exception of yerba mate infusions – are naturally caffeine-free.
There’s an extraordinary range of flavours possible in a fruit and herbal infusion, from the natural sweetness of camomile flowers to bright, tart berries and hibiscus flowers. Yerba mate is a South American herb with a natural caffeine buzz; you’ll find it in some of Whittard’s more unusual blends, alongside inventions like Strawberry Mint, Liquorice Twist and Red Velvet..
How To Brew
As Whittard fruit and herbal infusions don’t contain tea, there’s no tannic bitterness associated with overbrewing – how you infuse is largely up to you! Whittard recommends using double quantities (around 2tsp per cup) and freshly drawn and boiled water, then brewing for at least 3 minutes to get the most flavour possible out of your cup.