Did you know that 90% of the tea drunk in the UK is a blend of teas, and that tasting and blending tea, like blending whisky or champagne, is a fine art, and takes years of training?
When I read that, I sat up and took notice! Tea is something that I take for granted – I like a cup in the afternoon and I like drinking green tea after dinner. So when I received some Tetley Tea to sample along with a fact sheet, I began to look at tea in a new light. There are over 200 ways to describe tea! It takes 5 years of training to become a Tetley Tea Blender, fluent in the art of tea blending and the vocabulary that comes with it. There are 60 different tea blends sold by Tetley and each blend is taste tested 8 times before it can be judged good enough to called Tetley! Phew – now that is something to consider as we get through the 165,000,000 cups of tea that are drunk daily in the UK!
These are the top 20 terms used by Tetley’s tea tasters, bearing in mind that there are many more…
- Aroma: an important consideration in cupping teas is the smell that is given off. A favourable aroma is most often associated with a flavourful taste.
- Black tea: the most commonly consumed tea in the world. One of three major types of tea, the others being Green and Oolong.
- Biscuity: a desirable trait usually referring to a well fired Assam.
- Bite: a very brisk and “alive” tea liquor.
- Blend: a mixture of teas from several different origins blended together to achieve a certain flavour profile.
- Body: describes a tea liquor possessing fullness and strength.
- Colour: indicates useful depth of color and strength.
- Dust: a term which is used to describe the smallest particles of tea leaf.
- Flat: not fresh. Tea tends to lose its characteristics and taste with age, unlike some wines which mature with age.
- Hard: a desirable quality suggesting pungency, particularly applied to Assam teas.
- Jasmine: a green tea to which Jasmine flowers are added.
- Leaf: a tea where the leaf tends to be on the large or longish size.
- Malty: desirable character in some Assam teas. A full, bright tea with a malty taste.
- Nose: a term used to connote a good aroma of tea.
- Powdery: ‘fine, light dust’ as the tea people say, meaning a very fine, light leaf particle.
- Pungent: describes a tea liquor having marked briskness and an astringent effect on the palate without bitterness.
- Sparkle: clarity and purity of colour from grey to pure colour.
- Toasty: a tea which has been slightly overfired during processing. It may be a desirable characteristic in some Darjeeling teas.
- Woody: a characteristic reminiscent of freshly-cut timber. This trait is usually associated with teas processed very late in the season.
- Zing: overall quality impression of the tea on the palette; the balance of character and taste in the tea.
Well, after all the hard work that has gone into producing your blend, you want to be sure to treat that tea with a little respect! Here are Tetley’s Master Blenders’ top tips for the perfect cup…
The tea should be made with boiling water and only once-boiled water with a low mineral content if possible. This is because reboiling reduces oxygen levels and affects the taste, whilst water with a low mineral content allows the tea notes to come through better.
If you’re making black tea, stand by the kettle to ensure you pour as soon as it’s boiled. Black tea tastes best when brewed in water as close to boiling point as possible. That’s why your cuppa may taste different on a plane. In the reduced pressure environment, the boiling point is lowered to 90°.
But if you’ re making green tea, allow the kettle to cool for up to two minutes. This will make sure that your tea doesn¹t over-infuse and develop a bitter taste. Green teas are more delicate after all.
When using a tea bag in a cup, always add your milk after the water, otherwise the milk will cool the water down and hinder the all important infusion process. If using a tea pot, try adding the milk to the cup first. This traditional technique stopped the delicate porcelain cups from cracking.
We advise leaving the bag in for at least two minutes to provide sufficient time to let the flavour of the tea to infuse. This is more of a guideline though; the perfect brew is down to personal preference. But do not poke or prod the bag while it is infusing be patient and let the process happen naturally!
After removing the bag, leave the brew to cool down for around two-three minutes. As the temperature reduces, the flavours will develop for a better quality taste.
If you would like to know more about the art of tea blending, take a look on Tetley’s website for a much more in-depth overview.
My recipe for Roast Pumpkin and Walnut Squares compliments and showcases the fruitiness of one of one of Tetley’s latest blends – Green Tea with Peach and Apricot.
I soaked some sultanas in a very strong brew of the tea which absorbed the fruity flavours perfectly. I roasted the seasonal crown squash that was in my Sutton Community Farm veg box along with some butter, brown sugar and my Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice mix.
I whizzed up a buttery, oaty, nutty base & topping, layered up and baked it then drizzled the squares with a lemony yogurt glaze. The result reminded me a little of the flavours of a baklava – sweet, spicy and nutty! I found that it sets up best overnight and even tastes better as all the flavours mature.
I am taking these delicious Roast Pumpkin and Walnut Squares over to Angie’s to share with the revellers at her popular Fiesta Friday party – it’s the 45th one – can you believe it?! Our talented first-time co-hosts this week are Michelle @Giraffes Can Bake (I don’t know about giraffes but Michelle is an extraordinary baker!) and MB @Bourbon & Brown Sugar (MB has some fantastic bakes on her blog but her savoury food is pretty fabulous too!) Welcome to co-hosting, ladies – it is quite the blast!
Roast Pumpkin and Walnut Squares
For the roast pumpkin
- 300 g crown squash diced into 1 cm pieces (about a ¼ of a squash)
- 1 tbsp butter cubed
- 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice mix
Mix and roast in a single layer at 200C/400F for 20 minutes, stirring once or twice. The pumpkin pieces should be cooked through but still a little firm. Set aside to cool
For the sultanas
- 75 g sultanas
- 1 Tetley’s Peach and Green Tea teabag
- 1 Tetley Redbush (Rooibos) teabag
- 1 cup of just boiled water
Make a very strong brew with the two teabags, then remove and stir in the sultanas. Soak for 20 minutes at least. Drain when ready to use.
For the base and topping:
- 125 g Digestive biscuits (about 8)
- 20 g walnuts
- 190 g plain/AP flour
- 50 g oats
- 20 g ground almonds/almond meal/almond flour
- 1 ½ tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice Mix
- 180 g cold, unsalted butter, cubed
- 50 g chopped walnuts – reserve for the topping
- 2 Tbsp pumpkin seeds – reserve for the topping
For the filling:
- 1 large egg
- 150 g light brown sugar
- 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice mix
- 300 g roast pumpkin
- drained sultanas
- 1 Tbsp ground almonds/almond meal
For the glaze:
- ½ c golden icing sugar
- 2 Tbsp vanilla yoghurt
- 2 tsp Yuzu Citrus Seasoning
- Pre-heat oven to 180 C/350 F. Line a 9 inch square tin with greaseproof paper so that the base and sides are covered – use a few dabs of butter to get the paper to stick to the pan.
- Place the walnuts and digestive biscuits in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
- Add the flour, oats, ground almonds and pumpkin pie spice mix and pulse a couple of times to combine.
- Add the cold butter and pulse until the mixture looks like coarse, damp sand.
- Set aside 1 generous cup of this mixture for the topping and tip the rest into the prepared tin. Pat it level – don’t press down too hard or the base will be tough – then bake for 15 minutes.
- While the base is baking, get the filling ready; combine the pumpkin and the sultanas.
- Using an electric mixer and a medium sized bowl, whisk the egg, sugar and pumpkin pie spice mix until thick, coffee coloured and creamy – about 2 minutes. Fold in the pumpkin, sultanas and almond meal..
- After the base has been in the oven for 15 minutes, remove it and top with the filling – covering the hot base as evenly as you can with the pumpkin filling
- Sprinkle over the reserved topping, walnuts and pumpkin seeds.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown.
- Cool completely before glazing.
- Combine glaze ingredients together until smooth and drizzle over the top.
Stores brilliantly, covered in the fridge for 4-5 days.