Last week I was delighted to attend a tea blending workshop being held as part of Newcastle Gateshead EAT Festival. I’ve been to various EAT events over the last few years and always had a great time, so I was really looking forward to this! My friend Katy and I tried to solve the riddle as to the location of the workshop which was being held in the Speak Easy & Salon – a venue with a 1930’s prohibition vibe. However we failed miserably, but did find the venue in the end thankfully – The Lit and Phil on Westgate Rd.
There was also a cupcake decorating class and a coffee workshop going on which I wish I could have also attended! The venue was all low lighting, so I apologise for the photos! Anyway, we took our seats and then the lovely girls from Tea Owl, a pop up tea room provider took us through some tea facts. I found it all very interesting, here’s a few facts…
- There is only one tea bush, the different teas we get such as white, green and black tea, are all from different parts of the plant
- The various varieties of tea are named after the region they are grown in if they are from India, or if from China, the actual plantation
- India and China are the two main producers of tea
- White tea is the very tips of the tea bush picked before dawn. Green tea comes from the fresher buds near the top of the tree and black tea is the older leaves
- Black tea became most popular as part of the British Empire because it is the most robust and could handle being transported over long distances, either by tea ships or by caravans that would travel from China across Russia to Europe
- High tea has become popular again, but did you know that we confuse the traditional names for afternoon tea and high tea? Traditionally, afternoon tea was enjoyed mid afternoon with sandwiches and cakes and high tea became popular at the time of the industrial revolution when workers would come home and have a large meal with a big pot of tea at about 5pm, followed by a later light supper. Now, the tea and cakes served in lots of cafe’s is incorrectly called high tea.
I know that in the North East a lot of us still call dinner ‘tea’ and now I see where that has originated from!
We were then taken over to a table full of different teas and other things we could add:
Katy and I had a lot of fun playing about with different blends. The two most successful blends were:
- Hojicha green tea
- Dandelion leaves
- Assam tea
- Star Anise
- Orange peel
- Peach slices in the tea cup
That last one was delicious, so naturally sweet!
I was very inspired after the workshop to make some blends of tea at home. I was intrigued by the use of dandelion leaves, we talked about how they are useful for water retention, bloating and detoxification. I know that when I was a child, we would joke with one another that if we touched a dandelion we would wet the bed – an old wives tale linked to its diuretic effects! Considering I have a (rather embarrassing amount) of this ‘weed’ in my back yard area I just had to experiment.
- 1-2 bags of green tea (or use loose leaf)
- 1 thumb size piece of fresh ginger, chopped
- 2 large dandelion leaves
- Add all the ingredients to a tea pot. Pour over freshly boiled (but not boiling) water. Allow to brew for 3-5 minutes. Drink from your favourite vintage tea cup!
Are you a tea lover? Any favourite blends?