Our meeting on 28th June invited members to bring a favourite herbal or fruit tea for others to sample. Ann hosted the event beautifully, laying out her table with a tea cup and saucer for each member. She made the teas one at a time for us to sample. Prior to this we watched a video clip to learn all about the origins of tea with the earliest written record dating back to 59 BC in China. The drinking of tea was developed for medicinal purposes and as a refreshing pick-me-up.
We started our sampling with Chinese tea, called Good Luck Tea and found it to be refreshing, slightly sweet and perfumed. Next came Camomile Tea which had a strong distinctive, slightly pungent aroma and tasted a little like daises which purportedly aids sleep. A visit to India for some Assam Tea followed. This was very strong and chocolatey with a slightly bitter taste. We enjoyed it more with a drop of milk but felt we could taste every leaf.
The next set of teas had us sampling Earl Grey Tea named after the second Earl Grey in 1830. The story goes that he was given a gift of this tea by a Mandarin whose life was saved by one of Earl’s envoys. It is made from large leafed China tea, Darjeeling, and oil of bergamot. We found it to be fragrant and delicately scented. A move across to the African continent had us sipping Ajiri Tea, a full-bodied Kenyan black tea. For its preparation it suggested that you combined milk and water in a pot, heat and then add the tea leaves with sugar and leave to simmer. However, we enjoyed it just with boiling water added to the leaves and found it to be smooth and slightly oily with a smoky flavour.
Finally, Ann brought out her delicious cake with cream to eat and we finished off by sipping Three Mint Tea made up of peppermint, spearmint and fieldmint. This reminded some of medicine and had a minty after taste. It is reported to aid digestion and has antioxidant, anticancer, antibacterial and antiviral properties.
The teas generated much discussion and opinion as well as the sharing of many anecdotes. To culminate the evening, we voted for our favourite tea: a tie between the Chinese Good Luck Tea and the Ajiri Tea from Kenya. Our least favourite tea: a tie between Camomile, Assam and Mint teas.