THE ULTIMATE LONDON TEA EXPERIENCE

Are you looking for a special gift for your loved once or possibly an interesting and a bit out of the ordinary experience?

Are you coming to London and want to connect with the British culture and learn a bit more about the nation’s favourite beverage?

Do you know someone that really loves tea or possibly, you love tea yourself?

Then this post is for you!

Today I want to share with you my Twinings Tea Masterclass experience.

As you might have figured out already, this class is dedicated entirely to tea and its connection to Twinings.

IMG_20200130_121653_9
Tea tasting bar

WHO IS TWININGS?

Twinings is one of the famous English tea brands with over 300 years of history. Known for being master blenders of tea, the company also markets other beverages nowadays including coffee and hot chocolates.

Twinings was founded in 1706 by Thomas Twining. He was the son of a Freeman who saw the commercial potential of tea and took a personal interest in it. He abandoned his trade as a weaver and started a new job working for a wealthy merchant handling exotic products and shipments from the East India Company, including tea.

IMG_20200130_123237_7
Portraits of Twinings ancestors

Tea was introduced to England by Catherine of Breganza, a Portuguese Princess married to Charles II. She could not live in England without her favourite beverage and soon tea became fashionable among the rich and famous, the upper class. Of course everyone wanted to drink what the Princess was drinking.

Thomas purchased a coffee house, the very premise “The Strand 216” and turned it into a tea shop called “The Golden Lion”. Soon, many people visited his shop and purchased tea from him and the rest is history as they say!

INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT TWININGS – DID YOU KNOW?

1. Twinings holds the world’s oldest company logo that has been in use continuously.

IMG_20200130_124509_5
Old and current Twinings brand logo

2. They are London’s longest-staying ratepayer for a shop. They have been in the same premise, “The Strand 216” since 1706. That is a very long time!

3. Twinings invented the world famous tea blend Earl Grey. The story goes that in 1831 the Earl of Grey, back then the Prime Minister, received a tea from China as a token of gratitude infused with bergamot. He enjoyed this particular blend so much that he asked Richard Twinings to replicate it for him to get some more.

IMG_20200130_123050_5
The current Earl of Grey

In the old days, rich and influential people often asked to have their own and unique tea blends designed solely for them. However, the Earl of Grey agreed to make his favourite tea widely available to the public. The current Earl of Grey signed the Twinings Earl Grey package in 2011 to remake the mark from his ancestor.

4. Twinings are an official Royal Warrant for tea. This means they are an appointed tea supplier for the British Monarchs. Twinings received its first Royal Warrant in 1837 from Queen Victoria. The Queen gets her tea from Twinings. So, what is good enough for her majesty is surely good enough for us! πŸ™‚

5. The original entrance way, which was commissioned in 1787, still graces the door frame of the shop today.

IMG_20200130_124447_9
Protected and listed Twining shop entrance

The lion is connected to the original name of the shop and a sign of respect to the founder Thomas Twining. The two Chinese on both sides to the lion represent the history and the trade with China. For a long time it was the only country producing and selling tea. The entrance way is listed and protected.

THE TEA MASTERCLASS

The masterclass took place from 10 am to 12 pm (noon) and was divided into two parts.

The first part was dedicated to the history of tea. Who invented it? Where did it come from? The early forms of tea and preparation. And of course how it became popular in Britain. This lasted about one hour and was really interesting.

I already mentioned some of the things I learned during the class above in regards to Twinings and a brief introduction to the tea history in England. But there is so much more to it, which I do not want to give away in case you are interested in this tea masterclass.

I can say though,Β  I came out of this class a lot smarter than before and very, very happy.

IMG_20200130_122945_3
Old tea storage boxes from wealthy ladies

The second part was the tea tasting. The tasty and interactive bit of the class and certainly my favourite πŸ™‚

I was able to try many types of teas including:

  • White Tea
  • Yellow Tea
  • Green Tea
  • Black Tea
  • Pu’erh Tea

For the tea tasting, all the teas are chosen for you in advance and you just need to wait for the staff to brew it for you.

However, what I particularly liked about this class was that I was allowed to try teas that I was interested in and that I really wanted to try.

For instance, I saw a package on the counter with tea inside that looked like a little flower bulb. I asked my teacher if I was allowed to try that particular tea, as I have never seen tea in this form before and was very curious about it.Β  She kindly brewed it for me. This turned out to be my favourite tea of the session for two good reasons. First, it tasted great and second it looked amazing.

IMG_20200130_114922_2
Jin Zhan Mo Li – Green Tea with Marigold and Jasmine Flowers

Once the bulb opens up and releases the tea flavours, two beautiful flowers appear. This is really a feast for the eye. It is so pretty and makes the tea drinking experience really special.

I was also offered on several occasions some tea, especially during my tea history class. My teacher would lend me her expertise and also make recommendations. I enjoy fruit teas and green tea a lot, so she made me some mango and apple green tea, which was very tasty.

During the tasting, you learn how to taste tea properly to get the most of the aromas. You learn where the different types of teas come from, where they are grown, how green tea differs from black tea and how the different aromas are achieved, what tea leaves are being used and how tea taste can change from the same plant from one year to the next.

IMG_20200130_121746_1

For the tea tasting, you get special equipment, a spoon. πŸ™‚

The tea is being poured into a bowl and you scoop up some tea as if you were eating soup.

You smell the aroma and observe the consistency, colour and clearness of the tea. Clear teas are called liquors and teas that look a bit cloudy and thick are called broths. Again, something I learned that day.

Next, you slurp the tea as if it was super hot soup. This is not lady like and you make a lot of sounds, but you get totally different flavours this way from the tea as if you were just to gulp it down. It is similar to wine tasting.

You are also given a table with different categories such as tea colour, aftertaste strength, flavours that come to mind etc to note down what the different teas were like that you sampled. This is also good for comparison on the different type of teas.

FINAL THOUGHTS …

I have to be honest, I did not know what to expect from this Tea Masterclass before I attended it.

But I found it very fascinating, informative and totally different from any other experience day I ever had or attended.

Tea has become such a staple in our households and we drink it as if it was water. We often do not take the time to prepare it properly and therefore do not get the best out of it. Especially certain teas should be celebrated and prepared with care.

Next time you make yourself a cuppa, think about these things and really sit down and enjoy it mindfully to get the best taste from it!

If you are interested in the Twinings Tea Masterclass, here is the link to their website.

 

One thought on “THE ULTIMATE LONDON TEA EXPERIENCE

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s