As frequenters of the Wild Strawberry Cafe will know, our tea is pretty wonderful. Our top grade tea, supplied by specialist tea company, Canton Tea Co, and is enjoyed loose leaf in our lovely stumpy tea pots.
When we started the cafe last year we knew our tea had to be something special. In a place where every ingredient is either homegrown or carefully sourced from local farmers, and every element of every dish, from granola to chilli jam, lovingly homemade, we certainly did not want to tarnish the experience with an average cuppa. When we came across Canton Tea Co. we knew we had found our tea supplier. Founded in 2007 by Jennifer Wood, Canton Tea works directly with the small, family-run farms from which they source their teas. Jennifer refuses to compromise on quality, meaning that some teas are forced to change with the seasons- for example the “First Flush” of the treasured Darjeeling variety is at times better replaced by the “Second Flush”.
Once one ventures away from supermarket cheap blended tea, it becomes apparent that understanding tea is akin to understanding wine. From the determining factors that impact the resulting taste which include terroir, season, producer and variety, to the method by which the tea is brewed- one suddenly becomes slightly nervous in Jennifer’s presence of committing a serious ‘Tea Faux-Pas”. Milk is a touchy area- us Brits are pretty accustomed to the obligatory glug of milk in our daily brew, and whilst Canton would never say adding milk is wrong, upon savouring a cup of Canton it does become evident that adding milk would detract from the wonderful delicate flavour of the tea. The real reason that we are so used to adding milk to our tea is actually that our tea is so bad we need to disguise the harsh taste! Water temperature is another area that requires care- whilst the Black Teas such as Darjeeling can cope with hotter water, the more delicate Green Varieties including Jasmine Pearls and Jade Tips, benefit from a lower temperature (around 80 Degrees C).
We have gradually expanded our range of teas available in the cafe, and whilst the Canton English Breakfast tea is, of course a cut above your average “builders brew” (Canton blend Assams and Ceylon Black teas), the real treasures lay elsewhere. For those of you not willing to venture too far from the norm, the Canton Earl Grey is just superb- the blend of First Flush Darjeeling with Sicilian Bergamont Oil makes from a fragrant and delicate black tea, best enjoyed without milk. For the more adventurous we love the two green teas- Jade Tips and Jasmine Pearls. The Jasmine Pearls has been voted the best in the UK- hand-rolled young green tea buds are suffused with fresh jasmine blossoms in the traditional way. Most jasmine tea is artificially scented, but Canton’s is natural, capturing the delicacy of the jasmine flower without overwhelming the sweet, creamy softness of the green tea. Canton’s herbal selection, of which we stock Peppermint, Red Berry & Hibiscus and Rooibos, offer naturally caffeine-free alternatives to the traditional teas.
And so we find ourselves on a mission to encourage our customers to try something other than English Breakfast, with such beautiful teas awaiting in the yurt it seems a shame not to. For that reason we have started our “Tea of Week” campaign. Each week we will introduce a new tea, giving you some background and tasting notes, and if further encouragement is needed… a discounted price for that week only. So next time your gaze falls upon English Breakfast, why not read down a couple of lines on the menu to the world of tea below, and perhaps even order one, and perhaps even try it before adding milk and sugar… go on, we dare you!