Leaf Tea – A missed Opportunity?
Along with Turkey, Russia and Ireland, the UK is at the top of the league table for tea consumption per capita, but unfortunately most of the tea consumed is average to poor quality, presented in a teabag and drowned in milk. The celebrated builder’s tea!
It is important to add that 130 million cups a day are consumed in the UK. With 92% of those drinks made from a teabag. The remaining 8% is made up of leaf tea (5%) and herbal, along with fruit infusions (3%).
What Tea is or What it is Not
And it gets worse. Most consumers don’t even know what tea is, or what it is not.
So, for anyone who doesn’t know, there are six categories of tea, all coming from the Camellia sinensis plant: white, yellow, green, oolong, black and dark or fermented. Same bush, different processing methods. And following on from that, camomile, peppermint rooibos etc. are not tea, we call them botanicals.
Quality Starts at the Tea Plantation
Tea should be handpicked with only the bud & top two leaves collected.
In India it is recognised that women from the south are the very best tea pickers. They will move around India moving to Sri Lanka for six to eight months of the year.
Several criteria should be considered when choosing leaf tea and these include.
- Great tea comes from a well-established tea plantation
- Ensure the plantation has a robust and contented growing system and
- That rolling and withering is not rushed and
- The tea pickers wages are fair.
Therefore, it is important to work with a tea business that has good working relationships with plantations.
David Pogson, MD of Northern Tea Merchants said “By preparing good teas and adding value as an operator of a coffee shop, hotel or similar catering establishment you can serve your customers a choice of many different teas from around the World”.
He continued, “The marketing and sales of leaf tea out of home is different to the ‘builders’ tea you might drink at home. Therefore, research is important and ensure supplier has a very good understanding of leaf tea and how to prepare it”.
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Tregothnan Tea Plants