April tea hero: Discover Tea and Terroir with LaKyrsiew

12 Apr

Stunning (image courtesy of Lakyrsiew Tea Co)

As you may know already we have been looking at how terroir determines a tea’s unique characteristics. This month’s loose leaf tea hero is one of our newest teas and producers but is already an all time favourite with us and our customers: Awakening.

Awakening is from the beautiful LaKyrsiew Indian boutique tea garden. It is an “addictively caramel-chocolatey sweet black loose leaf tea that oozes opulence.” Full of shiny tea tips, an opulent aroma and a smooth, lingering sweetness, this unique tea takes you on a journey of your senses in every way!

I chose Awakening for April’s tea hero because LaKyrsiew make stunning teas that take you on the most beautiful voyage to begin to understand terroir.

The story of the LaKyrsiew tea garden is fascinating! Two hundred years ago, the forest covered hills of Meghalaya, a province that lies between Darjeeling and Assam, were discovered to be perfect for growing beautiful tea. However, growing tea here was deemed too costly due to the remoteness and the high yields that neighboring Assam could reap, and so the land was left wild.

Two centuries later, the old tea garden plans were discovered, virgin scrubland and woodland was cultivated and LaKyrsiew “The Awakening” tea garden was born.

Organic from the start, working with the contours of the land to protect the ancient fertile topsoil from monsoon rains and watered by a spring high on the jungle slopes, the flavours produced by the tea garden are unrivaled.

Geert and Nayan, the owners of LaKyrsiew, are passionate about the beautiful loose leaf teas they produce. Their focus is quality not quantity; in 2009 only 650kg of tea were made. They carefully pluck the top two leaves and a bud then wither, roll and fire the tea themselves. They even have their own bespoke brass rolling table that improves the flavour of the tea!

Although comparable to teas made in neighboring Darjeeling, the slow growth, favourable weather and strict leaf picking, LaKyrsiew tea has its own unique character – opulent and smooth with a lingering sweetness.

Try both Awakening and their stunning white tea, Silver Tips and you’ll see what I mean!

Tea and Terroir: what gives tea its unique characteristics? Topography?

11 Apr

Wow! Where did the last week go? Sometimes in a small business there just aren’t enough hands on deck, hours in the day or days in the week! Well, this week was one of those so apologies for my delay in posting the next part of the Tea and Terroir blog. A little delayed, but here you go…

So we’ve already learnt that climate plays a huge part in the magic of a tea’s unique characteristics, but what else plays a part?

Topography (the relief of the land) – in a nutshell this takes into account how the altitude and latitude (the degree of the slope of the mountain) of a particular place determine the tea garden’s exposure to wind, rain, frost, sunshine, shade and drainage.

Having recently been to Sri Lanka I have been lucky enough to experience the diverse climate and topography and therefore flavour and characteristics of its tea, first hand. I loved chatting to the wonderful Herman, owner of the tropical Handunugoda tea estate, about Sri Lanka’s unique topography and how it determines how their tea is grown and therefore, how it tastes.

IMG_0173

 

Herman explained that Sri Lankan teas are not classified by season or climate but instead by elevations: low, mid and high-grown tea. Each elevation lends itself to unique flavours and characteristics - mellow and rich low-grown, aromatic citrusy mid-grown and intense high-grown – and even price point!

In the high mountain tea growing areas, the native China tea bush, the Camellia Sinensis, flourishes even on incredibly steep slopes as high as almost 8000 feet. At this height the thin air slows the leaf growth. This growth is focused around an optimum picking period so their yield is half that of the tea bushes grown in the much lower tropical tea gardens.

Sri Lanka tea

In the tropical Southern tea growing parts of the island where Herman’s beautiful estate is, the tea bush flourishes more consistently all year round and produces a more mellow and rich flavour and the teas are easier to harvest.

The lower yields, coupled with the difficulty in harvesting the tea in the highlands lead to a more intense flavour and a much higher price point for the high elevation teas.

Next time, the final focus will be on geology and terroir.

Link

Master the art of your favourite brew

10 Apr

Master the art of your favourite brew

A little update to my blog post on Monday (http://lahlootea.wordpress.com/2013/04/08/).

Here, the BBC investigate just how to master the art of brewing the perfect brew with me, Kate Gover (founder of Lahloo Tea) and The UK Tea Council.

Happy reading!

The perfect tea time treat with a pot of Awakening: Little nutty tea cakes

9 Apr

Tea cakes

In the words of our founder, Kate, ❝bake these little nutty tea cakes off in yorkshire pudding/muffin trays and make a pot of tea for a simple yet perfect afternoon tea treat!❞

Ingredients

Makes one large round cake or lots of little ones

600ml perfectly brewed Lahloo Awakening or Tajiri

400g dried fruits

Zest of 1 large orange

1 large free-range egg

300g caster sugar

385g plain flour

4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp mixed spice

  1. soak the dried fruits and orange zest in the tea and infuse overnight or for at least 6 hours
  2. drain and save the liquid for later
  3. preheat the oven to 180C
  4. whisk egg and add to dried fruit with 2/3 of the caster sugar. Sieve the dry ingredients and add to the fruit, along with the juice of the orange. The mixture should be moist so add some of the reserved tea liquor if necessary.
  5. pour into a greased and lined large round cake tin or 2 muffin trays and bake for 25mins. Cover with foil and bake for a further 45mins. If necessary, bake until your skewer comes out clean.
  6. Allow to cool before topping.

Nutty topping

100g candied peel

100g flaked/chopped almonds

50g golden syrup

  1. melt golden syrup and add fruit and candied fruit. Simmer for 5 mins. 
  2. allow to cool and pile sticky mixture on top of cakes
  3. put the kettle on, make a pot of tea and enjoy!

Put the kettle on for a nice cup of tea with Victoria Wood

8 Apr

Since I was a little girl, I have been a huge fan of comedy legend, Victoria Wood. She never fails to have me rolling around in stitches! I’m also a massive ambassador for reigniting Britain’s love affair with tea.

I was really pleased to see that the BBC are showing a two-part documentary featuring Victoria Wood and her travels to discover just how this little plant changed the world.

From the back streets of Kolkata to the mega city of Shanghai, Victoria reveals how the cosy cuppa united east and west, triggered wars and helped us win them. Along the way she peeks into a fascinating world of chai wallahs, opium smokers, Assam tea pickers and grumpy elephants. She asks: how did this strange exotic leaf become such an important part of British life?

It’s a really fab program so put the kettle on for a nice cup of tea with Victoria Wood http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01rx1xc

I have my own ideas why we love tea so much in the UK, but what do you think it is about tea we love so much, and how did we all end up hooked?

Tea and terroir: what gives a tea its unique characteristics? Climate.

28 Mar

Last time we looked at what term terroir means. Despite having a broad understanding of terroir and how it affects tea, this series is giving me a whole load of fascinating new information. I have a naturally inquisitive nature and I love learning! So here’s what I have discovered…

So, what factors contribute to terroir? There are various trains of thought on what exactly makes up terroir, but there  is a general consensus that the following elements determine a tea’s unique flavour, aroma, health benefits and even its cost:

Climate: everything about a places’ unique climate – the temperature, how much the sun shines, how much it rains and how windy it is – affect how well and when tea grows.

Take the beautiful tropical island of Sri Lanka, I was lucky enough to visit recently, for example. Despite being small it has a really varied climate. This means that the island can produce an array of different teas in abundance all year round,  making it the fourth largest tea producer in the World!

Sri Lanka tea

In places like Uva in the eastern highlands of Sri Lanka there have very hot and dry Cachan winds from July to September that cause the tea trees’ leaves to curl up to protect them from the draught. This encourages the cells of the leaves to replace lost moisture, so the teas made in Uva at this time of year are really juicy and full fo flavour. Nowhere else in the world experiences this windy climate, it’s unique. Therefore these Uva teas are – understandably – very pricey!

Tomorrow, how topography affects a tea’s unique characteristics.

Tea and Terroir: what does it mean?

17 Mar
Tea leaves

Camellia Sinensis (tea plant)

You may or may not already know, that all tea – black tea, oolong tea, green tea, white tea, yellow tea and puerh tea- comes from just one plant, the Camellia Sinensis. The Camellia Sinensis grows all over the world so why, even when considering different production methods, does a tea grown in similar conditions in India and Nepal, which is just a stone’s throw away, taste completely different?

The secret lies in terroir. Terroir is a French term that comes from the word terre, meaning land. We don’t have a direct translation in English but in one word terroir perfectly describes the impact that geology, geography and climate and the variety and age of the plant has on the flavour of food and drink.

The easiest way to describe it is ‘the sense of a place’ where the magic qualities of that specific place and plant come together to produce the finest aromas and flavours. When terroir is applied to tea, wine, chocolate, tomatoes, coffee, spices, olive oil (and much more) you can really begin to explore the desirable nuances of each country.

I hope that helps a little. I’ll look a little more into why and how terroir changes a tea’s character in the next post.

 

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