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Tea, Popular Regions and flavours

  Tea, Popular Regions and flavours:

Assam: Strong, full-bodied tea – that has been compared to the tea equivalent of red wine. Can be drunk black or white.

Ceylon: This is an an assertive tea, with a fragrant flavour – coming from what is now Sri Lanka. It can be drunk black or white, and is particularly good iced.

Chai: a modern blend, that has re-introduced an ancient name for tea. Blends vary, but generally include cinnamon, cloves, ginger and star anise. Can be drunk with or without milk.

Darjeeling: This delicate (as are all teas grown at high altitude) – and has a light golden colour.. It’s been called the Champagne of teas’ Can be drunk black or white.

Earl Grey and Lady Grey: Both are flavoured with citrus, the former, strongly, with the essential oil from bergamot (Citrus bergamia) – a small citrus fruit mainly grown in Sicily and Calabria; the later more delicately with Seville orange and a little bergamot.

Both are better black, perhaps with a twist of lemon. Earl Grey was invented by Earl Grey and now produced by most tea blenders, the leaves simply being sprayed with the flavour during processing – tea bags give unscrupulous blenders, generally supplying the cheaper end of the market, the chance to use very small leaves, one up on dust. Lady Grey is just made by the reputable firm of Twinings.

English Breakfast: a blend designed to have a strong ‘lifting’ flavour. Good with milk.

Green tea: This is made with unfermented tea leaves, and has a clear fragrant flavour and gold liquor. This was the original type of tea drunk over many hundreds of years – ‘black’ tea, produced by fermenting the leaves is a fairly recent innovation. It has a delicate flavour and should be drunk black.

Lapsang souchong: This is unique in the fact that the leaves are smoked – producing a distinctive flavour. Like Earl Grey, the quality of the leaves can vary enormously. Drink black.

White Tea: The rarest of all teas, with a very delicate flavour, and suitably expensive. Authentic white tea is only produced in the Fujian province of China. After picking, the leaves are slightly withered with great care and left to dry – the exact process is a closely guarded secret, but raises small white/silver 'hairs' on the leaves and buds.

It is considered to have excellent anti-oxidant and detoxifying benefits, and larfely because of this it has recently become very sort after in the West.

Only a few shops and Mail Order outlets offer white tea varieties (see our Mail Order & Shop sections) – the price is such, that you might need professional advice.

See 'Chah': 'Grey, Lord'; ‘Tisane’; and Web sites: ; or; or Hattie Ellis’s book ‘Tea’ (Ryland, Peters & Small,

If you enjoy cooking take a minute to look at ‘Simon Scrutton French Cookery Classes’ on Google – and learn how to make top class bistro-style dishes. Suitable for beginners upwards. Small classes.

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