Tuesday, August 29, 2017

A Tete a Tete With Tetley Tea

The minute I arrived at the Tetley "Tea Party", I could hear the melody of RULE BRITANNIA playing in my head.  It's about as English as you can get, and Tetley tea is the 2nd largest tea brand globally, and is only JUST making its debut in Malaysia in a big way.

All that was missing really was a Monarch in a crown, sitting on one of these and sipping tea from fine bone china.

We were privileged to have with us that morning, Tea Master, Sebastian Michaelis, the world-renowned tea expert, who was VERY informative, and it really did turn out to be quite an interesting session.  For starters, I did not know that basically comes from one type of leaf, the young buds and unopened buds of the plant, Camellia Sinensis.  I always assumed that the myriad tea variety meant they were from different plants altogether, but lo and behold, from the classic English Breakfast to the exotic Assam, all nipped from the same bud so to speak.

Sebastian took pains to explain the different types of ways of cutting the leaves, and how the quality of a blend is graded by assessing the tea leaf and tea liquid using a unique language called UHURU.  It almost sounds like these tea people are from a Star Trek series.

A tea party table was all set up as well for after the briefing.

What's ethical tea partnership?  Well, Tetley is one of the founding members of the Ethical Tea Partnership, helping create a thriving, global tea industry that is socially fair and environmentally sustainable.  Considering the painful process of plucking only the young buds, it's not really a job that can be easily mechanised, so it is exceedingly labour intensive.

The other thing I found quite fascinating, by Tea Blender Sebastian was the fact that for black teas, to ascertain the correct blend, one uses MILK as the constant to bring out the colour.  Obviously one uses a fixed ratio,...it's all very scientific, not just jiggling a tea bag and lifting your pinky as you drink tea.

This however applies to black teas only.  Green teas are not given the milk treatment.

Another FASCINATING thing I learnt was that once you achieve your Master Blender level, you are awarded your own monogrammed SPOON, but these spoons are property of Tetley, so we were allowed to use these tasting spoons, some belonging to very dead people, from the 1800s....

And every Tetley Master Blender tastes 40,000 cups a week.  Their bladders must be flushed!!

At the end of the session, we were given some additional stuff for a blending competition, to see who could come up with the most original enhanced blend, given the four ingredients shown below (Basil, Ginger, Strawberry and Lemon) plus honey and sugar, and milk.  Of course, it was amusing to see some people add milk to their lemon, which curdled the mixture.

Anyway, out of the media group of 10 or so people, Sebastian chose ahem, MY Blend as the winning blend, which won me at least a years supply of Tetley teas.

Time for a tea party ...

To end it all, a typical English High Tea spread, sandwiches, prawn cocktail, scones with cream and jam and sweet cakes... all washed down with any Tetley tea of your choice.

The inevitable groupie shot..   I have to say it was a pleasant way to spend the morning.

No comments: