15 Jan 2013

Exploring loose leaf tea - why is coffee cool and tea isn't?

I've decided to explore loose leaf tea at the start of this year. Try a few different varieties, taste something a bit different.

It's interesting how fresh coffee has taken over so much on the high street but a similar thing hasn't happened with tea - perhaps especially surprising in England, given the history of tea tied in with its colonial past.

Why does the thought of a mega-chain of Costalotabucks tea shops on every street corner seem odd? It's partly a marketing thing - coffee's successfully been sold as a lifestyle choice for the Apple-toting backpacker generation. Tea in comparison seems so last century. It's amazing what marketing can do. Just think of food trends - is there a traditional working class food that hasn't been gentrified in the past year or so in London? If some bare brick, stripped wood and pendant lighting (and good quality meat and cooking, obviously) is all the hotdog and burger needed, then why hasn't tea fully got in on the act?

Or is it not down to marketing so much - is it simply because the difference in flavour between instant and fresh coffee is much greater than the difference between a teabag and loose leaf tea?

The tea in the picture is an Assam. My first impression is there are definitely flavour notes you don't get in teabag tea. A maltiness, a fruitiness almost, and also more of a green tea type feel to it. That's not to say it's necessarily better - some people might prefer one or the other - but it is definitely different.

There's also the ceremony of it: you're giving your drink and the occasion a bit more respect. And there's a lot to be said for that. Although obviously there will be times when thirst trumps ceremony.

I'm looking forward to trying more.

1 comment:

  1. Just chanced upon your post while doing some research for a blog (I write about tea). Glad to hear you've been converted! I'll pop by again soon :)