“Tea, Earl Grey, Hot… and whoever this ‘Earl Grey’ fellow is, I’d like a word with him..”
-Jean Luc Picard, Star Trek The Next Generation
This week one of our glorious customers ordered some Garden Grey Black Tea. This is a tea we blend ourselves with organic lavender grown in the wilds of Tibet. What an aroma! While this is not one of our more popular teas, it did get me thinking about Earl Grey in general.
Most tea lovers are familiar with Earl Grey. One whiff of this tea reveals the distinctive aroma on the nose and in the cup. This is a very traditional black tea with the addition of oil extracted from the rind of the bergamot orange, a very fragrant citrus fruit.
What about the man behind the tea?
Charles Grey (1764-1845) descended from a long established Northumbrian family seated at Howick Hall and was educated at Eton and Trinity College and Cambridge. He became the 2nd Earl of Grey, was a politician in the Whig party (Democrats) and he became Prime Minister at the ripe old age of 22! His first parliamentary address as PM was in 1787 and concerned a recent free trade agreement made with France, to which he was very opposed. He was involved in four years of political reform, the author of the Reform Bill of 1832 (which saw the reform of the House of Commons) and had an enormous impact on the development of democracy in Britain, abolishing slavery throughout the British Empire in 1833.
The Whig historian T.B. Macauly wrote in 1841,
‘At an age when most of those who distinguish themselves in life are still contending for prizes and fellowships at college, he had won for himself a conspicuous place in Parliament. No advantage of fortune or connection was wanting that could set off to the height his splendid talents and his unblemished honour.’
Outside of his political achievements Earl Grey enjoyed the life! He was said to be tall, slim and strikingly handsome, had 10 sons and 6 daughters with his wife and fathered at least one illegitimate child! Earl Grey enjoyed gallivanting around the country, breeding dogs, playing cribbage and also found time to have an affair with the Duchess of Devonshire.
There are several tales as to how the tea was named after such a noble and colorful figure! According to the most popular legend a grateful Chinese mandarin whose son was rescued from drowning by one of the Earl’s men, first presented the blend to the Earl in 1803. This legend seems to have little basis as the Earl apparently did not set foot in China and the use of bergamot to scent tea was then unknown in China. Jackson’s of Piccadilly claim they were the originators of the recipe, which was given to them by the Earl himself.
While the truth is not known, like the very popular Earl himself, this tea is one of the most well known flavored teas in the world. Many people who I chat with over the years claim not to care for the very distinct flavor of Earl Grey. I have found by offering samples of Earl Grey, that most people have never experienced a good quality, loose leaf tea and the quality of both the tea and the bergamot is paramount! Any deviation can result in an unpleasant tea with a residual taste on your palate.
When brewing a hot cuppa Earl Grey, we infuse for only 2 minutes or so, and then enjoy multiple infusions from the same leaves. It is the perfect accompaniment to tea sandwiches and cakes (Mmmm!) but just drinking alone is fine too. ‘Gallivant’ with your Earl, and find your favorite way to enjoy.
Along with the Garden Grey, we offer two version of Earl Grey Black tea, one is our premium blend Earl Grey and we also offer an Organic Earl Grey. Our Organic Earl Grey is the tea we offer in the silk tea sachets and can be found served from nearly all of our serving partners.
You may be surprised to find you like the Earl, now that you know a bit about the man behind the tea.
I like this quote. When I went to find someone to attribute this quote to, I couldn’t find anybody so I’m claiming it for myself. That may be right, wrong, maybe morally questionable, but the truth is, life is way too short to drink bad tea. And there is no reason to drink bad tea when so many great options exist, everywhere.
Perhaps the quote should be, “Life is too short to drink anything except loose leaf tea” Loose tea is the better tea, fresher and allowing for the best flavor, the deepest, resonant, complex and any other word you can think of to describe awesome flavor. There are superb teas in bags or sachets, seek them out and stop drinking bad tea. The difference is immense.
Tea is an emotional beverage. What other drink conjures memories, alters moods and makes you a better person. Yes, there is a similar quote, “Life is too short to drink bad wine”, but tea is healthy and can be drunk every day. And you should drink tea every day. We all want to extend our time on this planet, and get the most out of each and every day. So drink tea and drink great tea.
Motivating? I’m not sure, perhaps I’m just trying to get to the end of this blog post. But how about this?
“Make the most of every day” I won’t try to claim credit for this adage, but if you are going to drink the world’s most popular beverage after water, make the most of it and drink a great tea.
Drink great black teas. A robust, strong Assam or Darjeeling with a splash of fresh almond milk or a rich cream. Drink a great breakfast blend like our Organic Sarasotan Breakfast Blend, Or a mild, sweeter Nilgiri. Or if you want more flavor, a spicy chai might be the perfect option. I almost forgot to mention Oolongs! Especially our ‘milky smooth’ Dung Ding Oolong.
Drink great green teas. Froth a pinch of a matcha green tea, or gently steep a pure Organic Sencha. Add a touch of flavor, maybe strawberry or gojiberries or any other subtle sweetness that brings out that cool wonderful green tea flavor. Yes, white teas too. Drink them!
Drink great rooibos teas. Drink a lot of rooibos. This is wonderful in the afternoon when there is no fear of caffeine stealing sleep from you. Drink Rooibos or Bush Tea when faced with solving a mystery ☺☺ This is not only a lovely, mild flavor, rooibos takes on other flavors like vanilla and orange peel (Selby Select) or Lavender or Rose (Mable’s Rose Rooibos). Drink Honeybush, and Chocolate Honeybush and the list goes on.
Drink great herbal teas, peppermint, Yerba Mate or hibiscus or tulsi. I just saw this weekend that Roselle blossoms were available at the Sarasota farmers market. They are they’re blooming in Florida and they make incredible tea as well as a gorgeous jams and jellies. Drink a fabulous chamomile tea from Egypt and dream of Cleopatra or floating down the Nile.
Drink great fruit teas. Share them with a young person. Introduce a child to the joys of tea. Start with the anticipation of the kettle boiling, then take a moment to select a tea to fit the mood, watch when hot water meets tea leaves and the flavors release. This called the ‘Agony of the Leaf’, what does it conjure in your imagination. Heat the mugs with hot water while you wait for all the flavor to extract, and then pour two mugs full, and blow cool air over your brew.
Start a young person on a tea journey, drinking tea as a part of a ritual, after dinner, before bed, in the morning, later in the day. There are so many opportunities to drink tea. This ‘Tea Journey’ will last a lifetime and you will be responsible for the the very first steps.
And then there is the perfection that are Mote Beach Tea or Little Monkey fruit teas. Make a cuppa either of these herbal gems before you go to bed. I promise you that your dreams will be finer, they’ll be sweeter and your sleep will be deeper and richer and better. I can’t promise that your dreams will come true, but a great cuppa tea can bring hope.
Share that idea with everyone, a life of sound sleep and fantastical dreams. You are never too old to begin a ‘Tea Journey’. And what a wonderful community to be a part of, drinkers of great teas!
Appreciate all that goes in to a great cuppa tea. Where the tea was plucked, how far it might have traveled, who else might be enjoying the exact same cup at this same moment. How many years or decades or centuries have people been drinking this same tea. Or how much progress has been made in heating up the water. Before electricity, 200 years ago or 2000 years ago, how did they boil water, what was the mug like or bowl or the cup. There is much to consider in a simple cup of tea.
And be sure to steep your tea for the correct time. Not too short, robbing yourself from a fully expressed cuppa. And not too long, for the bitterness or astringency might distract from the beautiful flavors intended for you.
Give the gift of tea. Nothing can be so easy to share, so thoughtful, so considerate for either a tea lover experienced in drinking great tea, or introducing someone to your favorite tea. Tea elevates the idea of a gift to a new level.
Yes, I want you to buy my teas, and we have plenty of options for you. But find a new place to buy tea, a wonderful loose leaf tea. You will recall the moment later, when you are drinking or serving this tea. Tea comes with its own story, you just have to be a bit creative about it. The story is available and there is joy to be had.
Serve a great cuppa tea in a fine piece of China, in a cup that needs a saucer. Take a moment and make it special. You will enjoy the experience even morel, or help someone else feel special. That’s where this big thought started, with living your life to the fullest. Life is too short and so find the moments, the joys to extract a bit more than you may have expected. Surprise someone, delight them. Give that gift or treat yourself. You deserve it.
So drink up, Life is too short to drink bad tea.
Local Tea Company
Tea is a wonderful way to show your love, appreciation, respect or that you are thinking about someone. Perhaps the universal gift, as age, gender, geography, time of year, relationship status or any other boundary can be crossed safely, without confusion. While the gift of tea can be personal, the truth is everybody has a tea they like or love, some just don’t know it yet.
We recently added a Tea of the Month program, either 3 months or 6 months. That got us thinking about “gifting” tea. Here are a few thoughts to consider when giving the gift of tea…
1. Caffeine or Herbal (caffeine-free)
Caffeine is an important consideration, especially sensitive as we are here in Florida. Caffeinated teas are a great way to begin the day or a superb lift in the late afternoon, but to the novice or the beginning tea drinker, caffeine can create problems. A wonderfully flavored black tea like our Organic Strawbango might not be the best tea to drink after dinner. I always ask the server for their home number, when ordering herbal or caffeine free beverages, so if I am awake at 2:30 in the morning, I know who to call. When in doubt, go with an herbal, rooibos or fruit tea. You can’t go wrong with our Organic Peppermint, Selby Select Rooibos or Siesta Tea (fruit tea)
2. Loose leaf tea or teabags
We are quite partial to loose leaf tea at Local Tea Co, tea lovers and experienced tea drinkers tend to prefer a loose leaf tea. The tea typically will be of a better quality, fresher and a much better value. It cost money for the convenience of bagging tea! Loose leaf teas also provides more flexibility in how much tea you might want to brew; tea for two or three or a big pot for your sewing circle. That said, teabags especially biodegradable ones we offer, SOILON sachets, are very convenient for anyone traveling or those interested in trying a new tea. Check out the many options of our tea samplers available in loose leaf or in sachets. If they don’t love the tea, it can always be served to guests when they come over for a cuppa.
3. Flavored tea or and pure blends
Would you rather a gift of Organic Sarasotan Breakfast blend (an unflavored pure blended tea) or our Organic Earl Grey (flavored with the oil of Bergamot), this may be the easiest comparison. Though there are so many spectacular blended teas from our Goji Green or Jasmine green tea with flowers to our Cochin Masala Chai or our many rooibos blends. What is better than a strong cup of pinhead gunpowder green tea or a pure Organic Sencha. Maybe a pot of our ruby Organic Red Berries that you can share with the kids or enjoy as an iced tea later in the day. Tough one, but that is why you are an expert gift giver, and you really can’t go too wrong!!
Is the gift for a serious tea drinker, someone loaded with tea accessories? Do they really need another tea ball with an elf Fob? Go with an expensive porcelain mug with painted flowers. Our cat mugs sold incredibly well at our Selby Gardens Tea Shop, and they still sell floral mugs in the Garden Shop. Or for a more modern gift, one of the newer steep-in-one traveling mugs. There are lots of options for tea lovers, and for the newbie just starting their tea journey, a box of tea bags or a few mesh balls of different sizes or tea spoons will spark a conversation. Or get them an inspired gift, maybe a bamboo tea basket and challenge them to figure it out! And there is also the whole category of things that can be added to tea that make for a wonderful gifts, honey or jams are always welcome.
Most important is not to overthink your gift. The person you are gifting is going to appreciate the gesture you are making, and the thought behind this gift. They will love it as much they love you. Find a clever and creative tea, we recommend our Mable’s Rose Rooibos or the tropical fruity Mote Beach Tea. Find a tea that has some meaning, or to be realistic, something that can easily be ‘Regifted’.
‘The naming of teas is a difficult matter,
It isn’t just one of your everyday games—
Some might think you mad as a hatter.
Should you tell them each goes by several names.
For starters each tea in this world must belong, to the families Black or Green or Oolong;
Then look more closely at these family trees—-
Some include Indians along with Chinese.”
T.S. Elliot, The NAMING OF CATS with liberties taken by Local Tea Company :>
The naming of this tea was very difficult too and you have every right to think the name was taken straight from a T.S. Elliot book! We are very excited about our Organic Strawbango Black tea and know many will love this blend as much as we do. Read More
November 5th is the perfect time to talk about our Pinhead Gunpowder green tea. For me, this tea conjures up images of Guy Fawkes, a very celebrated and notorious fellow in Great Britain. Born in Yorkshire, I am sure you have seen the mask below on Halloween or in the “V for Vendetta” movies or comic books, but do you know what Guy Fawkes was notorious for besides drinking Yorkshire tea?
“Remember, remember the Fifth of November, Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I see no reason why Gunpowder Treason should ever be forgot.”
In 1605 a group of conspirators including Guy Fawkes attempted to destroy the House of Parliament by filling the cellar with explosives. Known as the “Gunpowder Plot”, the conspirators wanted a Catholic King rather than the protestant King James I. The plan did not work and Guy Fawkes was captured, hung, drawn and quartered for his part in the plot, but his name lives on. Guy Fawkes Night is a festival in Britain remembering the Gunpowder Plot and the King’s survival. Read More
“All true tea lovers not only like their tea strong, but like it a little
stronger with each year that passes”.
We answer a lot of tea questions at Local Tea Company, and the most popular inquiry is about what makes for a good cup of tea? This tea quote is taken from an essay published in the Evening Standard in 1946 by the English author George Orwell. He directed his keen wit and passion for clarity in language to the topic of the perfect cup of tea.
A favourite book of mine offers an interesting quote or excerpt about tea, and I would like to share it with you. Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome was first published in 1889, and was intended as a serious travel guide about a boating holiday on the Thames between Kingston and Oxford. However, it turned out to be a very humorous account detailing the adventures of the three friends Jerome, George Wingrave and Carl Hentschel along with a fictional dog called Montmorency!
When I read this excerpt today, it seemed so clever and witty, evoking powerful thoughts about the beverage I so love…. tea. Enjoy.
‘It is very strange, this domination of our intellect by our digestive organs. We cannot work, we cannot think, unless our stomach wills so. It dictates to us our emotions, our passions. After eggs and bacon, it says “Work!” After beefsteak and porter , it says “Sleep!” After a cup of tea (two spoonfuls for each cup and don’t let it stand for more than three minutes), it says to the brain, “Now rise, and show your strength. Be eloquent, and deep, and tender; see, with a clear eye, into Nature, and into life: spread your white wings of quivering thought, and soar, a god-like spirit, over the whirling world beneath you, up through long lanes of flaming starts to the gates of eternity!”
Jerome K. Jerome, Three men in a Boat.
What type of tea does it take for you to rise and show your strength, be eloquent and deep or indeed spread your white wings of quivering thought? It would have to be a good strong cup of Yorkshire Harrogate for me! Here is a earlier post about Yorkshire. Please share your comments and take time for tea.
“BREAD AND WATER CAN SO EASILY BE TOAST AND TEA’
This is a lovely quote (author unknown) that came to mind this morning. I was actually making some Lemon Curd at the time but I also had a visitor in the Carriagehouse Tea Room at Selby Gardens that told me he would not drink tea because his mother always made him have toast and tea when he was sick! Of course she would, mothers know what is good for you.
I also felt sorry for him! Toast and Tea is a custom most of us have such good feelings about and I for one can sample this pairing at any time of day. There is nothing as simple or as tasty as toast and tea, unless you add a little lemon curd that is!
Lemons are in abundance here at the moment and as they keep arriving by the bagful at my house I just keep churning out the Lemon Curd! I got myself a cup of jasmine tea and Lemons at the ready. Want to have a go too?
This is a very easy recipe and method to follow. You will need preserving jars which have been sterilized in boiling water. I put the lemons in same water as it makes the juice release easier. I usually double up the recipe, but to make one batch you will need:
Juice and Rind of 1 lemon (I have been adding rind of an extra lemon too!), 2 eggs, 2oz unsalted butter, and 3oz sugar.
- Place sugar and rind in large bowl.
- Whisk eggs and lemon juice together. Add to bowl.
- Cut butter into small chunks. Add to bowl.
- Place bowl over a pan of simmering water. Stir until butter melts and whisk lightly over heat until mixture thickens. (It may seem like mixture is never going to thicken but it will.)
Place in jar and refrigerate.
It tastes delicious and is so worth the effort. I love giving to friends and of course, the suppliers of all my Lemons! Lemon Curd is also the perfect accompaniment to scones, so maybe next time we will make scones.
I recommend putting on the kettle and making a pot of Yorkshire tea and sit down to enjoy some toast and tea. Mmmm!
I cannot believe it has taken me so long to write about Rooibos tea. Maybe that is a good thing though, as I have now reached a stage where my love of this tea is such that I cannot imagine life without it!
As an orthodox tea drinker, black teas and mostly unflavored green teas, you will have heard me say many times that I just love the taste of tea. However, like many women before me I seem to have reached an age where too much caffeine (even in my beloved tea!!) seems to be disruptive for my body.
Enter ROOIBOS (Aspalathis linearis) a broom like shrub and member of the legume family found in a small area of the Western Cape Province of South Africa. The word rooibos (pronounced roy-boss) is Afrikaans for red bush and has been popular in South Africa for generations.
Rooibos has a huge following all over the world due to the many health benefits as well as Mama Ramotswe, a certain lady detective. If you are one of the few people not to have seen or read the No 1 Ladies Detective series by Alexander McCall Smith then do so soon. Like the tea, these books are compelling, very relaxing and worthy of your time.
So, what does Rooibos have to offer? Rooibos has very high antioxidant levels (aspalathin), in fact some claim that Rooibos has more antioxidants than green tea. And I advise anyone not caring for green tea to drink Rooibos. The tannin levels are low (responsible for causing astringency in true tea) and there is NO oxalic acid which makes this tea good for anyone suffering from kidney stones. Relaxing and restful, rooibos can assist with nervous tension, allergies, dermatological issues and anti-spasmodic properties making rooibos helpful for digestive problems.
In South Africa, rooibos is used to aid infants suffering with colic and is added to baby’s bath water (and yours) to soften the skin. Research continues on possible anti-cancer properties and I think we will hear more about the benefits of drinking Rooibos for some time to come. Perhaps most important, you will find NOTHING about the adverse effects of rooibos, which is quite amazing!
Rooibos is an herb and is NATURALLY caffeine free, which makes it the perfect tea for my sleeping predicament. This tea quite simply tastes and feels so good and I have become a huge fan. I have found many tea lovers dislike pure rooibos, though it blends so well with fruits and flowers.
At Local Tea Company we have a wonderful collection of Rooibos teas. Our best selling (of all our teas) is Selby Select, an orange peel and yogurt blend we created for Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. The list continues with Van Wezel with black and red currants (see post), Lemon Sunset with lemongrass and lemon peel, Bertha Palmer with licorice, peppermint, verbena and fennel, and finally Mable’s Rose with cherry and rose. I hope you agree that is quite a line up and if you are an iced tea drinker, do not despair, all are beautiful iced!
One of our rooibos teas is especially nice too share with a loved one. Sweet Sin combines raspberry with vanilla and is always popular around Valentine’s Day.
What a versatile and special tea this is and if you haven’t discovered Rooibos already then I hope you do so soon.