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Infusion Society Meeting

Infusion Society Meeting:
Darren Williams (Fortnum & Mason)

On Tuesday visiting was Fortnum & Mason’s Head Tea-Buyer, Darren Williams. Although he came to speak about particularly their best white teas, he also expanded into the other significant single-estate teas that are on offer there.

He opened his visit with an interesting, and very funny talk about Fortnum & Masons politically incorrect history, and the history of tea in Britain since 1707 (the founding date of Fortnum & Mason). He also covered some tea trivia, including that 96% of tea consumption in Britain is in fact from tea bags, and that the opium wars between China and Britain is the reason we drink mostly Indian tea. 

After the talk, we began on the teas; first a set of white teas, which are the rarest type of tea for the general market, and have most subtle flavours. Their production and picking is monitored by strict rules, to maintain white tea quality all over the world. We opened with “Mao Feng” and “Yunnan” white tea (Both from Yunnan province in China). The second was particularly notable for its distinctly sweet taste. We then continued onto “Grey Dragon,” (an Indonesian white tea whose leaf was black, with a fine white line down the leaf) which had a darker liquor than the previous two, and was by general consensus the best in taste.

We then tasted some non-white teas, from Fortnum & Mason’s best collection. These included “Long Jing,” one of the most famous green teas in the world, from Hangzhou in China and some novelty gold-plated Assam. It was a very successful evening and we were generously left by Darren Williams with a selection of other teas for the next meeting.

 Niklas Halusa (MNF)


DATE POSTED: 23 February 2010

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