Talking Tea: A guide to choosing the perfect cup of tea
Green tea? Black tea? or white tea? The array of choices can be baffling.
We’re huge fans of drinking tea and we’ve made it simple for you by putting together a guide for all you need to know about tea.
At Aimee Provence, we are proud to offer our guests a menu created with you in mind. Our Tea menu features the finest selection of teas from around the world alongside our own hand-picked blends. But a good tea menu, like a good wine list, can sometimes be a little daunting.
Relax, we’ve got you covered. In this post, we explain the seven key teas that will give you the confidence to talk tea like an expert and order your perfect cuppa.
Which Tea To Choose?
Our first four Teas are likely to be at the top of a good tea menu. That’s because they concern the most important aspect of choosing tea – the variety. There are lots of different varieties but they come down, mainly, to four main varieties. Once you understand these, talking tea becomes a whole lot easier.
Almost all green teas originate in China and, Japan, where tea has been cultivated for some 2,000 years so they really know what they are talking about when it comes to growing and drinking tea. Europeans drank imported green tea, with its fresh, slightly astringent taste, before the introduction of black teas. In recent years green tea’s health benefits have become recognized in the West. Its rising popularity is partly due to its reputed protection from heart disease and some forms of cancer. On our menu, you’ll find a selection of green teas: two delicious fruity Green Teas (Berry and Oriental Twist) and the delicately perfumed Pearl Jasmin.
With a darker, richer flavour than green tea, the majority of everyday tea drunk today is black tea. As tea drinking became more popular in Victorian Britain, the British decided to bypass the Chinese producers and produce teas within the British Empire: mainly in India and Sri Lanka
(then known as Ceylon). They mechanized the process and introduced an “estate” system; making black tea the first industrialized tea. Its affordability made black tea a huge commercial success – no longer the luxury it used to be, tea could be drunk by everyone, not just the very
wealthy. Today you can choose from our own selection of black teas – even a return to the exotic with our sumptuous Dark Chocolate and Black Tea.
You’ll also notice we have included this lesser-known variety on our menu, alongside our black teas. White tea is made from the same plant as the green and black varieties but is made from young leaves and buds. It also undergoes a slightly different process being uncured and less oxidized. White teas are thought to have the most health benefits as they contain less caffeine than teas made with mature leaves and contain higher levels of antioxidants. However, white teas such as our very own White Tea and Rose, need longer brewing to release their delicate, sweet flavours.
There’s one more variety to mention because it’s one you might come across: Oolong. Strictly speaking, Oolong is neither black nor green tea. Instead, it sits halfway between them and is best described as an artisan tea. Oolong’s flavour depends on the way the tea master chooses to process the leaves (in much the same way as a winemaker crafts a wine). In general, the leaves are rolled, twisted or curled to influence the flavour profile.
So, now you can talk about varieties like a connoisseur. More importantly, you pretty much have a handle on choosing your variety of tea depending on the flavours you like and their health benefits. There are two other terms you will often hear when it comes to teas that will prove useful: blend and speciality. Let’s take a quick look at these.
Like a wine or olive oil, tea can be a blend of leaves from several plantations.
Specialty teas are deemed sufficiently distinctive and of high enough quality to be drunk unblended. They are considered the aristocrats of tea. You have probably heard of Assam or Darjeeling; two specialty teas (like some wines and cheeses) named according to the specific region of India in which they were grown. In fact, Darjeeling is often called the “Champagne” of teas.
There are two exceptions that prove this rule. First, the popular English (or Irish) Breakfast for which the leaves might come from any number of plantations and are blended to achieve a particular taste. Second is the famous and much-loved Earl Grey. Infused with the pungent citrus taste of bergamot, this is another blend distinctive enough to have earned the status of a specialty tea.
Aimee Provence’s tea menu features several specialty teas for you to enjoy: Darjeeling, of course, along with English Breakfast and Earl Grey. We’d encourage you to try our own soft and fragrant French Earl Grey.
Lastly, our seventh word is Tisane; the word used to describe fruit teas and herbal teas. Some have a black tea base but many do not contain actual tea leaves but are infusions of fruits or herbs. Fruit and herbal teas are drunk either for their delicious flavours and/or medicinal benefits. Like other teas, they can comprise a single fruit or herb or be a blend. If these are more your “cup of tea” than the others, our Tea Menu features a wide selection of tempting fruit and herbal teas.
We hope you enjoyed this guide to our tea menu. When you choose your next cup of tea, either from a menu like ours or from the rows of boxes on the supermarket shelf, you can be confident that you can talk tea with the best of them. In fact, why not experiment – go on, try something new! We are delighted to offer our guests a range of fine teas to choose from in our luxurious hampers and our High Tea Parlour and are more than happy to advise and answer questions about all our delicious teas. It’s all part of our service at Aimee Provence.
- Now you know what types of tea to try, why not find out how to brew the perfect tea?