A few weeks ago, I met with the team from Grand Central shopping centre in Birmingham and reviewed Caffe Concerto. I left there with a gorgeous goody bag and one of the things it contained was a little pot of strawberry mint tea and a tea infuser from Whittards. Since then, I’ve been enjoying both the tea itself and drinking from an infuser. So when Whittards asked if I’d like to go for a tasting experience, I couldn’t say no. In fact, anybody can just drop in to Whittards and experience tea tasting themselves. So if you’re passing you can call in and discover your new favourite flavours.
Josh took us through the tea tasting, timing the brews so each cup was brewed to the ideal strength. We started with five different types of Darjeeling. Josh wanted to demonstrate how different they were – and he was absolutely right. He explained that there was a big difference between the first flush – the earliest harvest of the year – and the second flush which is picked slightly later in the season. My favourite of the Darjeelings was the Margarets’s Hope First Flush Darjeeling. This was light and fresh and tasted quite fragrant – ideal for drinking without milk. My sister preferred the Badamtam First Flush Darjeeling which just had a slightly different taste.
The Castleton Darjeeling that we tried was Josh’s favourite and this is a second flush tea, making it much stronger. There was also another Margaret’s Hope tea, the Moonlight Darjeeling which is a white tea. Josh explained that the tea leaves are treated differently and not mashed so much when making white tea. This made the flavour a lot less intense, and I personally didn’t find it had as much flavour as I would have liked.
After tasting the different types of Darjeeling, we moved on to some of the speciality teas. We smelt the little pots of tea at the back of the shop before deciding which ones to try. Interestingly, my sister didn’t like the Strawberry Mint one that I love so much, despite the fact that she usually enjoys mint tea. We both loved the Shanghai Chai flavoured green tea which tasted of cardamon and mint. Another one I loved was the Elderflower Earl Grey. My husband drinks Earl Grey tea as well, so I decided to buy some to take home. I also bought Earl Grey biscuits. These are shortbread biscuits with Earl Grey tea in them. They are some of the nicest biscuits I’ve ever tried and they’re really quite addictive.
Tea tasting was a great experience and something I’d never even thought of doing before. Next time I’m in Birmingham I’ll definitely call in again and try some different flavours. Another top tip I learnt was that if you’re drinking black or green tea from an infuser, you can reuse the leaves several times because they don’t lose their flavour. This tip is going to save me a fortune! Whittards in Grand Central offer complimentary tea, coffee and hot chocolate tasting to all their customers and you can call in without an appointment.