On Tuesday 16 May, the Infusions Society visited Thompson Lloyd and Ewart, the only tea brokers in the UK today. Founded in 1760, they are the world’s oldest tea brokers and sell over 40 thousand tons of tea a year to countries all over the world. The Infusions Society was privileged enough to try some of the teas they sell including various types of Assams and Darjeelings.
First of all, the boys were introduced to the complex method of producing the perfect tea leaf, including the processes of withering, crushing, oxidation, and drying. Through these processes, 30% of the leaf’s moisture is removed, allowing drinkers to rehydrate the juices when drinking tea.
They were also given the opportunity to taste some tea. Taking a large spatula, they dipped it in to various teas, make a loud slurping noise as it did so, before running it through their mouths and spitting it out, some rather dramatically! There was a variety of teas on offer, from a first flourish Darjeeling worth £135 per kilogram, to a red tea from Uganda worth under a pound. Universally, the favourite of the crowd was the first flourish Darjeeling, which was gentle on the pallet, tasting of various different herbs.
Last but not least, the boys were shown that if one tried hard enough, it was possible to get tea wrong. The so-called ‘broken teas’ had various issues, the most common being overdried to the point that they were burnt, or not being dry enough. The group were eager to try these and quickly had their expectations shattered. They were not impressed.
Overall, it was an absolutely wonderful afternoon, from which we learnt a lot about producing the perfect tea and broadened our tastes beyond the average teabag. Many thanks must go to Mr Fussey for organising the visit.