Is tea the new wine?
London Wine Week is a wonderful celebration of all things wine and dine in the capital. Increasingly, however, the trend and demand for the 'non-alcoholic drink' continues to rise. Along with a lunchtime drinking ban imposed by the city on corporate entertainment, and many Eastern clients to host throughout the year - especially the summer - the need to innovate not only to delight your guests, but to maintain a profit in the absence of alcohol sales, has surged.
In many cases, restaurants already on the ball are turning to rare and seasonal tea menus to achieve this with Club Gascon, for example, reporting a 400% increase in tea-related revenue in a recent Times article.
There are many ways to innovate with tea, including tea and food pairings, but these take time and development. If you're looking for rare and seasonal teas to impress right now, here are just four that might pique your interest, as recommended by our tea buyer, Tom Price.
Oriental Beauty Supreme Oolong Tea
Our Oriental Beauty is highly aromatic with notes of apple, grape and fragrant wood. The beautifully shaped, white tipped leaf is testament to its carefully controlled oxidisation, keeping the leaf whole and intact. This is the most delicious Oriental Beauty we have tasted. Picked in September from Qixing Garden in Er-Mei, Hsinchu County, this tea is incredibly fragrant and sweet. The dry leaves display the classic '5 colour' characteristic of traditional Oriental Beauty, with rusty brown, matte black, caramel brown and light green leaf and downy silver tips.
Li Shan Oolong Tea
Our Li Shan is a lightly oxidised and tightly rolled oolong, grown on one of the tallest mountains in Taiwan. On infusion, the tea has a pristine bright yellow colour and an amazingly floral and sweet aroma. Due to the altitude at which Li Shan oolong is grown, and the slow growth that this allows, the leaves of the tea are very large and often separated by large, long stems. These large leaves expand and fill the teapot after each infusion. This is the ultimate experience of a lightly oxidised and fired Taiwanese oolong.
Pre Rain Jun Shan White Tea
Pre Rain Jun Shan Silver Needle is one of China's most famous teas composed of perfectly formed, tender buds. A rare and highly sought after tea, only produced on Jun Shan Island on Dong Ting Lake, Hunan Province and only for a couple of weeks a year. Yellow teas are processed in a similar way to green teas: picking, withering, firing...but there is an extra step, unique to yellow tea production, in which the tea is wrapped in paper and gently warmed (40-60 degrees), which softens the flavour of the tea and removes the vegetal flavour present in green tea.
Anji Bai Cha Green Tea
Settling for nothing but the best in our quest to find delicious teas of authentic origin, we proudly bring you the freshest, sweetest 2017 Anji Green. Picked right at the start of spring from Yu Lan tea garden in Anji County, Zhejiang. This Anji Bai Cha combines spring floral scents, sweet sappiness, and a lush, creamy texture. These plump two leaf and bud sets are are expertly picked and processed from the very first growth of the season. Harvested so early in the year, in China this tea carries the accolade of Pre-Qing Ming (pre-rain), a hallmark of excellence and rarity.
Discover why understanding fine tea is akin to understanding fine wine with Decanter's Andrew Jefford.