I’m not sure if it’s a cliché or some sort of Anglo stereotype or what, but I was born in England and yes, I do love a good “cuppa”, though most of my tea drinking seems to be of the iced variety, not hot, poured into a fine China saucer with a splash of milk already at the bottom. As a fan of Asterix too, I also suspect that tea was brought to the British Isles by the Gauls, but I could be on shaky ground basing my history on a comic book. 🙂
Whatever its history, us humans have really taken the idea of boiled dried plant leaves and elevated it to both a fine art and a remarkable range of olfactory and taste experiences, a true sensory journey for your palette. There are also far more different types of tea than there are coffees, in case you prefer your caffeine from a bean.
When the team at Finest English Tea.com reached out to me and asked if my family and I would be interested in some of their proper English teas, I was definitely intrigued, as I’m always on the lookout for a good, strong, robust English Breakfast tea and some interesting new blends to try. They sent us a substantial care package that included two lovely additions too, a Mist Glass Ice Tea Jug and a Bola Glass Teapot.
Betraying my East London roots, I might well have said “Blimey, that’s a lot of bleedin’ tea!” when I opened up the not one, but two boxes that they sent along. And it is a lot of tea, a sampler of both their herbal and traditional teas.
Me? I’m a traditional tea drinker, but my girls like herbal teas. It’s all good.
And here’s the slightly ironic part: I live within a mile of one of the most popular tea companies in the United States – Celestial Seasonings. So close, in fact, that on certain days I can smell the lemongrass or mint that they’re cooking from my front porch. Very nice, actually!
Let me show you a few pictures of what the Saratoga, California-based FinestEnglish Tea sent me, however, starting with the teas:
From left to right, back to front, this is the Pure Chamomile, Kenyan Gold, Orange and Mint, Earl Grey, Peppermint, Lemon Ginger and Ginseng and the Northumbrian Blend. The Northumbrian Blend is loose tea while all the others are foil-sealed teabags, fresh and wonderful to smell even before you brew them up.
My 19yo is, of course, completely infatuated with the beautiful Bola Glass Teapot:
If you look closely, you can see that it’s an “infuser” pot, so the center is a (removable) stainless steel holder with a very fine mesh, letting you drop in loose tea or teabags, but avoid having the bits in your tea when poured.
Here’s an overhead shot to see how it works:
The long and short of it is that you can brew up just about any tea or combination of teas you’d like, a teabag and some loose tea, mysterious leaves you find in your yard (not recommended) or whatever you’d like, quickly and easily, then pour with the knowledge that the final tea is lovely and pure.
I actually like loose teas because then I can make it as strong or weak as I like — and it’s rarely weak! — by simply measuring the amount I want or even just estimating. Nice.
The other tea device that Finest English Tea sent along was the elegant Mist Glass Ice Tea Jug, which I just adore. You can see it here:
It works opposite to the smaller glass teapot in that the tea is floating in the jug with the water and the mesh filter is on the top so that it also filters out the tea leaves upon pouring, but doesn’t constrain you to only using a couple of teabags or relatively small amount of tea.
FinestEnglishTea.com is the West Coast distributor for the premium English tea brand Rington’s, a company that’s been purveying tea since 1907. That’s a lot of cups of tea, I’d say, and likely a variety that my family has enjoyed for generations, though I can’t exactly ask any of ’em for confirmation without a handy Ouija board, alas.
But they’d have had their tea hot, I’m sure. Me? Ice. Give me ice…
You may look at the particulate matter floating in the tea and be alarmed, but to me, it’s the sign of a real tea, a strong, robust and remarkably tasty Northumbrian Blend that I might have been a wee bit overly heavy-handed with when I poured it into the pitcher. As per their directions, I then added about 20oz of boiling water then filled it up with filtered cold water. Poured over ice it was sublime.
My thanks, props and kudos to FinestEnglishTea.com for distributing such lovely tea making gear and the Rington’s brand of fine English teas. So far every single tea we’ve tried has been truly splendid, a strong, delicious cup of tea, hot or cold. But now, seriously, we have a bloody lotta tea. I need to get drinking!
Disclosure: FinestEnglishTea.com sent us a sampler of various teas, along with the teapot and cold brew pitcher to try out their tea. For which we’re quite grateful!