As part of the Brighton & Hove Festival of Food and Drink, Jennifer Wood of the Canton Tea Company held a tea tasting workshop upstairs in the restaurant at Thornes today. It was much more than tasting different teas with some rather nice cakes however, [although it was that as well]. Jennifer held us spellbound as she took us on a verbal tour of the history of tea, and such is her obvious love of the subject we were hardly aware that we were absorbing a wealth of knowledge. The history encompassed geography, botany, climate, culture and politics spanning centuries and continents, with the most wonderful tea related anecdotes bringing it all alive for us. I gave up drinking any tea but herbal a while ago, but after tasting some of these teas I may well review that decision - particularly as the loose Puerh tea that Thornes stock has a remarkable similarity of flavour to my favourite Springback 15 year old single malt whisky!
We progressed from the lightness of Jasmine Pearls, sweetly aromatic Jasmine Tea through a White Tea - Silver Needle [Yin Zhen] with its light delicate flavour, Green Tea - Pouchong with its delicate bright fresh flavour, on to Oolong Tea -- the famous Iron Buddha [Tie Guan Yin] that is lightly roasted to give a fuller flavour, popular throughout China, and on to two very special teas: Superior Bai Lin Gong Fu, a rare and delicious Black Tea with a rich smooth flavour and finally onto the Canton Tea Co Puerhh Beeng Cha, of which we tried two different versions, the loose Puerr and the 2011 Special Yi Wu Big Tree Raw Beeng Cha. This special tea from Yunnan is made exclusively for the company. It has a very distinctive flavour and is believed to have extraordinary health giving properties. Which for something that tastes so good can't be right surely?!
You can taste some of these teas yourself in the restaurant at Thornes, or buy some to take home with you in the shop.
For more Brighton & Hove Festival of Food and Drink event details check out
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