Swimming in milk, a slice of lemon, heaps of sugar, just plain or with the bag left in; we all like our tea to be prepared in different ways.
It was being sold in British coffee shops in the 17th century, but it was mainly the wealthy who enjoyed a nice cuppa as it was still considered too expensive for the majority.
By the mid 18th century, tea had become Britain’s most popular beverage, replacing ale and gin as the drink of the masses. Before long, the East India Company was using fast ships called ‘Tea Clippers’ to bring back leaves from India and China.
Some of the popular teas we know and love today, are scarcely recognisable from the leaves that first landed in the UK over 400 years ago. From a white tea, elderflower and apricot brew, to kombucha, a fermented, slightly effervescent black or green tea drink, we are experiencing a new love affair with tea.
It became more readily available and as a result, dedicated tea shops began popping up on high streets up and down the country. Although still popular today, what is being drunk inside them is changing all the time. The typical strong ‘builder’s’ tea is losing popularity to its trendy, younger siblings: green, herbal and fruit flavoured varieties.
Here in Portsmouth you can find a company so passionate about tea, that they are the self-proclaimed ‘saviours of the cuppa!’ Andrew Gadsden is the founder of All About Tea and has revived the times where each city would have had its own tea merchant with their own standard blend, suitable for the local water and the tastes of their customers.
The tradition faded with the introduction of supermarkets who could offer tea at much cheaper prices, thus losing the area-specific blends, making room for tea for everyone, regardless of where they are and the hardness of the water.
All About Tea blend and pack the finest teas for both businesses and the public alike, including a speciality tea for Portsmouth which is a rich, strong, full-flavoured tea that is specially blended for Portsmouth’s harder, chalky water.
As a wise Japanese proverb once said “If man has no tea in him, he is incapable of understanding truth and beauty’’. We’ll drink to that!