I am not British nor Irish. I only get to claim that heritage by marriage. However, I feel a great connection when I am there. London feels a bit like New York (home) to me. But that’s not it. It’s my love of tea. My favorite souvenir is a teapot and some new tea to try when I get home.
In order to brew the perfect cup, or “cuppa,” for you or your mom, there are a few things that you need. Here, in Part I of my series, is the focus on the most important ingredient: Great Tea.
Tea can be black, oolong, green, herbal, or any variety in between. I suggest trying a lot of varieties to find your favorites. I have a few favorites that I’ll share here with you. You'll see that I lean more towards the black teas (e.g. Assam, Ceylon, Darjeeling and Yunnan) than to the Green Teas (e.g. Green, Sencha, Matcha) or the herbals (e.g. Hibiscus, Chamomile).
My favorite British Teas are from Fortnum and Mason. While I enjoy many of their teas, my two go-to blends are their classic Royal Blend, and the Jubilee Tea. Both are smooth, black teas. I leave plenty of space in my suitcase when I go to England so that I can bring back as many boxes as I can.
Another tea I really enjoy is Harrod’s No. 30 Assam Tea from India. This is a bold black tea and I really enjoy the strong flavor, especially on chilly mornings. I tend to drink this one more in the winter than any other time of year.
And if you travel to York (which is one of my favorite destinations with so much history), please do visit one of my favorites: the Hebden Tea Shop on the Shambles. I bought so much tea the last time I was there, and I even let the kids pick out some weaker teas for themselves to try. The shop smells fabulous and was a great little experience. And my favorite was their Assam.
Yes – you read that right – French Tea. Another of my favorite tea shops is Kusmi Tea, of Russian descent and now made in Normandy, France. Originally founded by Pavel Kousmichoff in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1867, the brand moved to Paris at the onset of the Russian Revolution in 1917 and opened an outlet at 75 Avenue Niel, Paris that still exists today. While they do have other locations in Paris, this one is my favorite.
(As an aside, they have two locations in New York - you can find them at the Plaza Food Hall on 59th, or in the Westfield Center at the World Trade Center. And if you are in London, they have a location at 15 Marylebone High St.)
My favorite teas from Kusmi are: Russian Morning No. 24, Jasmine Green Tea and Anastasia (organic Earl Grey), and White Anastasia.
I was on a business trip to Portland, Oregon and the hotel I was staying in was showcasing local brands. The tea that they served was Smith’s Tea. As you might image I travel with my own tea, but I decided to give Smith’s a try and I am SO glad I did. My favorites from them are: Kandy, Big Hibiscus, and Lord Bergamot and Jasmine Silver Tip. It turns out that Steven Smith, who founded the company in 2009, had previously started Tazo Tea which he then later sold to Starbucks. Anyone who knows me knows that I usually have a few of Tazo’s Awake tea bags in my bag at any time so I was not surprised that I liked the Smith tea so much.
Stay Tuned for Part 2: Hot Water and Steeping.
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