Archive for the ‘loose leaf tea’ Category

Time for Tea – our monthly chat with someone who cares about tea

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

nikibakesThis month our Time for Tea chat is with Niki Behjousiar, Recipe Creator and founder of nikibakes. Niki has been blogging for over 10 years and has recently collaborated with Steenbergs on 4 special blog posts focusing on key Steenbergs ingredients, which we will share in the coming weeks.

  1. What is your favourite tea to set you up for the day first thing in the morning?

I love a good Persian tea in the morning; it’s so energising and so invigorating. ORGANIC GINGERBREAD CHAI TEA LOOSE LEAF is also a firm favourite of mine to have in the morning from Steenbergs, especially as the mornings are still quite frosty, it warms you up beautifully and gears me up for my morning commute to work, a true blessing for me!

  1. What is your favourite tea to relax you in the afternoon?

As the day progresses I love to switch to herbal teas, I really enjoy a good chamomile in the evenings.

  1. Which Steenbergs tea would you most like to try and why?

I would love to try the ORGANIC CHILLI CHAI TEA LOOSE LEAF as it seems like a unique blend and very warming, I haven’t seen anything like it on the market and I love a bit of chilli in my dishes so why not in a drink too!

  1. What other Steenbergs products do you most enjoy and why?

This is a very tricky question as I love all of the products I’ve had the pleasure to try. I particularly enjoy the happy hippy salt; it’s unique and so soft on the palette, the cardamom pods, the harissa with rose, smoked paprika, chermoula…we could be here for a while.

  1. Who would you most like to have a cup of tea with and why?

I would most like to have a cup of tea with Sophie Steenberg as she is inspirational and so creative with the spice mixes. She is a person I look up to as a food blogger for good quality spices.

About Nikibakes

nikiiinikibakes has been blogging for over 10 years and has a passion for gluten free and dairy free recipes. She’s a Persian chef who loves all things spice and particularly enjoys Asian and South American cuisine. She’s always on the lookout for fresh and delicious flavour combinations and uses our spices daily in her cooking and on her blog.

Website: www.nikibakes.co.uk

Facebook: www.facebook.com/nikibakes

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/niki_beh?lang=en-gb

LinkedIn:  https://uk.linkedin.com/in/niki-beh-99005ab7

Instagram: @nutritiouslynikibakes

Steenbergs Becomes Kosher Certified

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017

We’ve been working during the last few years on upping our game in our certifications.  It’s alright saying that Steenbergs is good at this and that, but quite another thing to prove it.

In 2016, we began working on both halal and kosher certification.  So far, we have completed kosher certification with the London Beth Din (Kosher London Beth Din) – finalised on 16 December and confirmed 3 January 2017.

After an audit visit and lot of paper trails to be proved, this has enabled over 250 products to achieve kosher certification.  At the start, we won’t have any logo showing that our products are kosher certified, but as new labels are printed we will be incorporating the KLBD logo for certified lines.  This will begin with a rebranding of the organic extracts range in the first half of 2017.

Now, we’ve started on halal certification with Halal Certification Europe.  Because of a different methodology , it means that only those products we blend can be certified and so it will be a much, much shorter list.

At Steenbergs, the key theme is that we must be able to demonstrate that we both appreciate and are addressing customer’s differing requirements for Steenbergs herb, spice and tea products.  This is not only about environmental (Organic) and social (Fairtrade; SEDEX), but also about religious and other ethical factors.

We will address vegan and/or vegetarian in the near future, but have slightly put that to the back of the queue because Steenbergs’ products are plant-based and we seek (so far as possible) to ensure no animal products are used in fertilisers.

Update on 11 Hallikeld Close

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016

Slow, very slow progress, since my June update.  Basically, it’s just been a staircase that meets building regulations and finishing off the mezzanine floor.

But the white food-grade walls were delivered today from Hemsec Panel Technologies, so the new tea-packing room should constructed by Friday.  All we’ll then be waiting for is to complete the rooms is a gully drain to be cut out and connected, then a blue resin floor can be laid and plumbing fitted.

The tea packing machine is due for early September.  I am not sure it will get through the doors into the building, but everyone is telling me it’ll be fine – let’s see what happens then, shall we.

Some photos:

Time for Tea with Food Writer Hattie Ellis

Thursday, May 12th, 2016

Our monthly chat with someone who cares about tea

This month we chat to Hattie Ellis, food writer and prolific cookbook author about the delights of tea.

  1. What is your favourite tea to set you up for the day first thing in the morning?

English Breakfast perked up with a spoonful of something fragrant put into the pot: sometimes Darjeeling, sometimes Lapsang

  1.  What is your favourite tea to relax you in the afternoon?organic-green-tea-lemon-verbena-and-ginger-loose

An oolong, without milk, drunk from a small-ish cup rather than a mug, which I replenish often from the pot. Something about pouring tea is relaxing.

  1. What do you like best about Steenbergs teas?

High quality, an interesting variety and fairly priced. I also like the fact your flavoured teas are so natural e.g. the organic green tea with lemon verbena and ginger.

  1. Which Steenbergs tea would you most like to try and why?

Any oolong eg the Milky Oolong and Baihao Oolong. I find their various fragrances bewitching and refreshing.

  1. Who would you most like to have a cup of tea with and why?

If only I could bring back Tony Benn, inveterate tea drinker, to discuss Brexit, Trump and Corbyn.

About Hattie Ellis

Hattie is a food writer and author of eleven books on food and drink that focus on where food comes from and the people who grow, farm, collect and produce it.

Her books range from independent shops (Trading Places); English food and England (Eating England), the honeybee (Sweetness & Light), the chicken and the chicken industry (Planet Chicken) and fish around the coast of Britain (Best of British Fish).

A passionate exponent of tea, Hattie has also written a book called A Passion for Tea, published by Ryland, Peters & Small, all about discovering, exploring and enjoying this delicious drink.a-passion-for-tea-hattie-ellis

Website: www.hattieellis.com

Facebook: Hattie Ellis

Twitter: @hattieellis

Time for Tea with Henrietta Inman

Thursday, February 18th, 2016

Time for Tea – our regular chat with a fellow foodie.

This month we’re delighted to chat to Henrietta Inman, who celebrates the publishing of her fabulous new cookbook Clean Cakes on Thursday 18th February. For some of her delicious recipes try her Chocolate & Hazelnut Torte with Honey Praline Ganache or the Rhubarb & Orange Polenta Cupcakes – all free from gluten, dairy & refined sugar.

  1. What is your favourite tea to set you up for the day first thing in the morning?

detox-herbal-tea-loose-leaf-infusionFirst thing in the morning, even before tea, I have a glass of water to rehydrate and mug of hot water with lemon, a little apple cider vinegar, a pinch of cayenne and a little turmeric to cleanse my system and wake me up, I love it. With my breakfast, I love having warm water with some slices of fresh lemon, ginger and turmeric. If I have tea, I love Steenbergs’ Detox tea, a beautiful blend of dandelion leaves, fennel, peppermint, red clover and nettle.

  1.  What is your favourite tea to relax you in the afternoon?matcha tea open

I love Matcha green tea in the afternoon. It relaxes me but also gives a great energy boost to push me through to the end of the working day.

  1. What do you like best about Steenbergs teas?

I adore Steenbergs teas because you have such an amazing array of them and your herbal infusions are like no other I have ever tasted. In supermarkets, one often finds quite similar blends of herbal teas, but Steenbergs are all so original and always contain those extra special ingredients; take Happiness, for example, you open the packet and you are hit by the most beautiful bright yellow marigold petals, gleaming red pieces of rosehip and shades of green from peppermint, lemon verbena and spearmint… it looks so pretty when it’s being brewed too and it tastes incredible with a delicate and soft floral flavour; it’s very calming and makes me smile as I drink it. One often finds digestive blends with peppermint and liquorice, but Steenbergs add anise seed and orange peel to their Digestive Delight making it so original and very good indeed… they all do what they say on the tin, so to speak, and that’s what I like best about them!

  1. Which Steenbergs tea would you most like to try and why?

New Herbal Tea selection HRWith my book coming out on Thursday 18th February, I’ve had a lot of work on over the last few months with promoting it and building up a buzz. It’s been great and I’m so excited about its release, but after all this work during the day, as well as regular cake orders, I find it quite hard to switch off in the evenings and sometimes when my head hits the pillow it’s still buzzing with thoughts. So I’d love to try Steenbergs’ Dreamtime to help me sleep. As soon as I read the ingredients out to my mother who knows a lot about plants, she said, ‘That will knock you out!’, with St John’s wort, valerian, skullcap and oatstraw to name just a few of the sleep-inducing ingredients! How lovely!

  1. Who would you most like to have a cup of tea with and why?

My granny because she didn’t get to see my book before it was Tortepublished. I’d like to have a cup of tea with her, I’d make her my hazelnut and chocolate torte, she loved chocolate cakes, and we’d sit, drink, eat and read my book together for the most wonderful afternoon tea party a deux.

Contact details

Website: www.henscleancakes.com

Facebook: /henscleancakes

Twitter:  @henscleancakes

Instagram: @hencleancakes

STEENBERGS TEA TASTER PANEL

Monday, November 30th, 2015

Steenbergs organic Happy Hippy Herbal Tea

Steenbergs Rose & Bergamot Black Tea (Persian Style)

This time around our tea tasters had the joy of sampling two very different teas: one of our newly packaged herbal teas, Happy Hippy, to uplift and destress and one of our flavoured black teas Rose & Bergamot, a light brewing floral tea.

STEENBERGS ORGANIC HAPPY HIPPY HERBAL TEA

organic-happy-hippy-herbal-tea-loose-leafSteenbergs organic Happy Hippy Herbal Tea is an uplifting and stress busting blend of rose, chamomile and mint designed to lift flagging spirits and fight those wintry blues or mid-afternoon blues.  The rose petals smell and taste like a cupful of roses, uplifting for your nerves and spirit, the chamomile is light, mildly bitter and herbal (with hints of apples) and is calming, while the mints are soothing and refreshing.

One of Steenbergs’ organic teas, it contains organic chamomile flowers, organic rose petals, organic peppermint and organic spearmint.

Sophie comments: “This is one of my favourite teas. It looks beautiful with the chamomile and rose flowers but is also a delicious relaxing caffeine free herbal tea which we all drink in the evening.”

This tea was also a favourite with our taster panel, with 80% saying that they really liked at and 67% saying that they would drink it again.  One taster described it as ‘all of my favourite teas in one – awesomeness!’ Many commented that they loved the beautiful smell and colourful appearance of the tea, and with the new see-through panel on the packaging, we hope customers will be equally impressed.

The name of the tea was cause for comment with the majority of our panel (70%) really enjoying the uplifting and fun element to it.

Chamomile was one of the strong flavours picked out, along with rose and mint although strong hints of meadows, flowers and hay came though.  This was then reflected in where people imagined themselves to be with eyes closed, as 57% imagined themselves outside in a garden or meadow.

Overall 90% of our tea tasters really enjoyed the tea, with 90% describing it as ‘delicious’ (47%) or ‘pleasant’.  Drinking the tea also made 89% of our panellists feel relaxed and contented – so it seems to be doing its job!

Happy Hippy Tea

 

STEENBERGS ROSE & BERGAMOT BLACK TEA (PERSIAN STYLE)

rose-and-bergamot-black-tea-125g-persian-styleSteenbergs Rose & Bergamot Black Tea is a light brewing beautiful floral tea made with Ceylon and Chinese teas, which is ideal for the afternoon or evening.  Axel’s idea behind this tea was to make something evocative of classical Persia – tea and damask rose with hints of orange blossom.  “I imagine fun walking in gardens with tinkling fountains and peacocks strutting their fancy stuff.  So I have devised this recipe that uses light black teas, plenty of rose petals, cornflower petals and orange blossom, then added some cardamom and bergamot for that orange and sweet cardamom taste.  Relax and enjoy life with pleasant dreams.”

This was a very popular tea with our panel with over 90% really enjoying it, describing it as ‘a lovely afternoon brew’; ‘really very good and pretty’; ‘perfume is amazing’.  Interestingly only 58% of our panel were regular drinkers of flavoured black tea so maybe we have some converts!

It was definitely seen as an afternoon (53%) or evening drink (18%), with only 8% drinking it in the mornings.

When asked to highlight words that they felt best described this Persian style black tea, the favourite description was ‘floral’ (24%), with ‘delicious’ (21%) close behind. ‘Mellow’, ‘exotic’, ‘refreshing’ and ‘light’ all featured highly as well.

Regarding the flavours and aroma, rose and bergamot were predominant tastes and smells but cardamom also ranked high up on everyone’s taste buds.  Some of you did find that a bit strong but the majority could be summed up by this comment: ‘The balance of flavours is spot on. I don’t like Earl Grey but I love this’.

WordItOut-word-cloud-1288233

STEENBERGS TEA TASTER PANEL Morning Brew herbal tea & organic Fairtrade Earl Grey Tea

Monday, October 5th, 2015

Our tea taster panel had a delicious choice of teas this time, with a delicate organic Fairtrade Earl Grey and one of our new herbal tea blends, Morning Brew.  We had some great comments on both teas, although 63% of you did prefer the Earl Grey.  Read on to find out more…

STEENBERGS MORNING BREW HERBAL TEA

About Morning Brew:

morning brewSteenbergs Organic Morning Brew Herbal tea is an organic caffeine-free herbal blend created for Sophie as a decaff morning herbal brew. It is hand crafted and packed by us to Axel’s special recipe from organic redbush, organic oatstraw, organic ginger, organic cardamom, organic cinnamon and organic orange peel. The redbush provides the body, the oatstraw is uplifting and the spices add a zing and a spring to your step.

“I start every day with a mug of this tasty morning brew without milk – it starts my day perfectly,” says Sophie.organic-morning-brew-herbal-tea

Since we sent out the samples to our lovely tea taste panel, we have made a couple of changes to our Morning Brew.  Firstly we have managed to find organic oatstraw so we can make Morning Brew completely organic – hooray!  Secondly, we have relaunched our herbal teas in brand new practical packaging to make it easier to see the delicious blends.  We’d love to know what you think…

What did you think of Morning Brew?

Given the name ‘Morning’ Brew and the blend of uplifting herbs, it was interesting to see that only 29% would drink it just in the morning, with the majority happy to drink it at any time of the day (56%) and 9% in the evening.  Only a tiny minority didn’t like the blend.

morning brew worditout

The vast majority of our tea tasters enjoy herbal tea on a regular basis (88%), with 77% rating it excellent or good. When asked to describe how it made you feel we were delighted to find that ‘refreshed’, ‘invigorating’ and ‘energised’ were frequent words, as though was ‘relaxed’ – how good to feel both at the same time!

morning brew descriptions

Although very positive about the tea, it wouldn’t be the majority of our panel’s first drink of the day, many of you preferring a caffeinated drink such as coffee or black tea to give you that much-needed kick start.  Maybe it doesn’t go well with toast which it what the majority of our panel have for breakfast.  We particularly liked the sound of ‘toast with a savoury topping – goats cheese & honey or peanut butter & black pepper’ – delicious!

STEENBERGS ORGANIC FAIRTRADE EARL GREY

About Steenbergs Earl Grey:

organic-fairtrade-earl-grey-tea-loose-leaf-125g-tiSteenbergs Organic Fairtrade Earl Grey Tea is a deliciously light and fragrant classically scented organic black tea.  It comes from the Greenfield organic Tea Estate which lies between 5000ft and 6000ft above sea level in the Uva Highlands in central Sri Lanka. We pay a premium for the social welfare of the 770 people on this Greenfield Tea Estate. Visit our About FAIRTRADE  page for more information.

Sri Lanka is a jewel of a tropical island, located just above the equator with perfect growing conditions for organic Fairtrade tea, the climate is temperate, but rainy. Uva tea is regarded by the Japanese as the best of all Ceylon teas and we tend to agree. It produces a pale liquor with a slightly astringent taste that works very well with the flowery Bergamot flavour.

We use Greenfield organic Fairtrade Orange Pekoe grade tea leaves as its base, which compliments the sweet, citrus flavour of bergamot oil. We only use 100% organic bergamot oil for flavouring. The story is that in 1830 the second Earl Grey was presented with the recipe for this tea during a diplomatic mission to China.

What did you think of our Earl Grey?

With 78% of our panel rating the tea either Excellent or Good, here were some of the lovely comments you gave us on our Earl Grey:

“Wonderful!”

“Earl grey is a winner in my books, again down to the taste but I loved it!

“Even the last cup from the pot is lovely.” “It hits the spot.”

“Rarely drink Earl Grey – but this is amazing! Love the large tea leaves.”

However some of you were less enamoured and felt that the tea was not as intense or flavoursome as you would have liked.

Here are some of the flavour and aroma descriptions that you came up with.  It’s interesting to see that both ‘strong’ and ‘mild’ featured heavily, although ‘delicate’, ‘light’ and ‘citrus’ were definitely the main adjectives used.

Earl grey worditout

Of our taster panel, 59% were already regular Earl Grey drinkers, enjoying Steenbergs but also several other brands.  Over half of our panel drank the Earl Grey without milk and of those, 26% drank their black tea with lemon, with a small handful added sugar or honey to their tea.  If milk was added is was most likely to be cows milk (76%) although a variety of other milks were drunk including soya, almond & goat’s; although of those who drank both, several preferred cow’s milk in their tea but non dairy on cereal.

It was interesting to see that the vast majority of our panel enjoy their tea from a tea pot, with 72% feeling it is a ‘must’ for an enjoyable tea experience.  A tea bag versus loose leaf tea was another interesting debate and really boiled down to time.  54% definitely prefer loose leaf, with 20% preferring bags and 26% using either depending no how much time they had.

58% of our panel also enjoyed tea as their evening drink of choice, although 76% of those chose a decaffeinated herbal tea to wind down.  14% though felt that a glass of wine or a G&T was a much better way to spend an evening and 12% chose a soothing milky drink.

In conclusion, loose leaf tea in a lovely tea pot at the weekend with friends, or whilst reading or watching TV, was agreed to be a very relaxing way to enjoy a cuppa!

My Thoughts on Wages of Tea Pickers in India

Saturday, September 26th, 2015
Tea Picking In Darjeeling

Tea Plucker in Darjeeling, India

I have prevaricated about writing about the recent BBC investigation into conditions on some Assam tea estates, but felt that I really had to write something.  I did give a 2 minute response on BBC Radio York, but that was a tongue-tied minute or two.

I was dismayed by the conditions and experiences of tea workers shown in File on Four’s investigation.  But I was not surprised.  We (that’s everybody) all know, deep down, that tea is a product founded during colonialism and continued under unequal power relations.

Isn’t that why Fairtrade was started in the first place? Isn’t that part of the rationale behind the Ethical Tea Partnership, Tea2030 and the Rainforest Alliance?  Doesn’t Oxfam campaign on policies of unfair pay, unequal power and poor conditions within the tea industry all the time?

Yet tea remains an industry dominated by multi-national corporations, many with their own plantations – Twinings and Fortnum & Mason by the Weston Family; Lipton and PG Tips by Unilever; and Tea Pigs and Tetley Tea by Tata and so on.

However, while Oxfam released a report on wages in the tea industry in 2013, not much seems to have happened since.  Tea workers in Assam earned INR 115 versus a minimum wage of INR 177 (BBC, 2015), as against INR 89 and INR 159 respectively in 2012 (Ethical Consumer, 2013).  I think the ideas of the tea industry are sensible but far too gently paced, and the tea majors could work much quicker to transform the social conditions of the tea industry.  Tea2030 includes all the key UK players, so it is not as if they don’t have the power nor the management know-how to undertake change?

I must admit to a feeling of powerlessness ourselves . Firstly, as a micro-tea business, we sell less tea than your average Starbucks outlet.  So we must rely on the social standards set by outside agencies when buying our teas – Fairtrade, Organic and UTZ.  And I did naively think that by buying mainly Fairtrade teas we would be automatically protected from low wages, but this only requires a minimum wage to be paid with the commitment to move towards a living wage.  But what we don’t want, or expect to be providing, is certified poverty through Steenbergs-branded products.

So I have double-checked wages, conditions and child labour at the main suppliers of the teas we buy tea; these are summarised below.  We have been assured that no children are employed in any of the plantations, and that Indian law requires that no-one under 18 years old can be employed on plantations.

Tables on (i) Wages at Tea Plantations from which Steenbergs sources its main teas; (ii) Social conditions at those tea plantations

Analysis of Daily Pay Rates At Indian And Sri Lankan Tea Estates In 2015

Table describing social and environmental conditions at certian tea estates in India and Sri Lanka

It is up to us to address these issues by how we (in Britain, Europe and the USA) trade.  We must be mindful of that the rules and laws in India, for example, are for them to determine rather than for us to seek to impose any neo-colonial views onto them from outside.Which begs the questions: (i) why were 14 year olds working on Assam tea plantations if the law is no-one below 18 years old can work.  I accept that extreme poverty was the underlying reason given, which relates back to the inadequacy of wages paid and insufficient safety nets when wage-earners become ill or incapacitated; (ii) how are wages calculated?; (iii) where are the unions to protect the workers on  the tea estates in the BBC report?

My suspicions are as follows:

  • Minimum wages for plantation workers are lower than normal workers because they are meant to be provided with housing and ancillary housing-related and social benefits. However, these social benefits are expected to be on top of the minimum wage rather than deducted from it.  This means that some workers are being hit twice, i.e. by a lower minimum wage then having benefits-in-kind deducted, meaning very little cash is actually earned.
  • Many of the workers are regarded as itinerant, casual or whatever you wish to call them, so perhaps they do not have the benefit of trade union representation. Perhaps worryingly pickers are so poor that they cannot pay the unions anything, so fall even outside their interests.  It really would be worrying if workers could be regarded so poor that they were not getting union representation on a pro bono basis.  Unions are important to act as a bulwark against potentially stronger interests of the tea owners.
  • There is no living wage calculated for tea workers. While I accept that Britain is only just moving to a living wage in 2016, why has neither Fairtrade nor the Ethical Tea Partnership come up with a figure for a living wage?  This would at least underpin any criticism of pay in the sector.  Even saying that all pluckers must be paid the minimum wage in cash without deductions and all benefits to be on top would be a big protection.  Much of the issue seems to lie with how the benefits are valued – so a house is worth so many rupees, but who values it? and what value does it have without a working toilet, no potable water and a leaking roof – little or none?
  • Perhaps we are all guilty of normalising the status quo. Quaint, picturesque pictures of pluckers in local dress are good photos (as above), but like farmers in Africa or Eastern Europe these pretty images hide the poverty and hardship of actually toiling on the land.  Perhaps we feel this is how it is and feel powerless to change the system.  Perhaps we feel disconnected from the pluckers in India, Sri Lanka and Kenya, yet we are connected directly to them through what we pay for the tea on retailers’ shelves.  Should we just accept we pay too little for our cuppa?

Overall, I know this is a very complex area, with many nuances, but we should all feel more responsible for how we spend our money and the impacts our purchases can have on those who make the products in China, India and the UK.  We cannot always shrug our shoulders and say it is someone else’s problem.

What we will do in the short term is make sure we ask the right questions of our suppliers, which I admit we have naively not been doing.

So it will not just be questions about the environment, but also about pay, working conditions and union representation, because even if Steenbergs is a relatively powerless micro-business we can at least make do better in making sure our tea comes from sources that seem to be addressing wages and treating their people humanely, seriously and responsibly.

Top 5 tea picks – chosen by Axel Steenberg

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

Axel’s top 5 tea picks – loose leaf

We (Sophie and I) both drink a lot of tea – all loose leaf and Steenbergs. We take our current favourites away with us on holiday and when we are away for the weekend. (Although depending where we are going we also may take the odd loose leaf tea infuser). What we drink varies on the day, how the day is going, the time of day and who we are with.

Axel’s top picks for tea at the moment are:

Organic English Breakfast tea – I start the morning early with a large pot of our organic and Fairtrade English Breakfast tea. It sets me up for the day

Organic Gunpowder green tea – a traditional Chinese green tea – whose leaves look like little shots of gunpowder before they are immersed in water. You only need a few grains to make a wonderfully refreshing cup of tea. I drink this for a large part of the day, along with jasmine tea.

Organic Jasmine green tea – another traditional Chinese green tea – this time flavoured with jasmine. Again, you don’t need much of the leaf to create a wonderful infusion. I can drink this all day long, along with the gunpowder tea.

Organic 1st Flush Darjeeling Puttabong tea – It’s one of the most delicious Darjeeling I’ve tasted for a couple of years and is a real treat.

Chillax infusion – a calming herbal tea we designed to dissipate life’s stresses. We developed its unique relaxing herbal blend with oatstraw, St John’s wort, lime flower, skullcap, chamomile, red clover, catnip and lemon balm. Lemon balm, oatstraw and St John’s wort lifts your flagging spirits, while the catnip, chamomile, lime, red clover and skullcap soothe those angsty nerves.

For more views on teas, look at the Steenbergs Time for Tea columns, where we talk to people about what they love most about tea. Alternatively we also have the feedback from the Steenbergs tea panels – where customers are asked for their views on different teas throughout the year.

TEA TASTER PANEL Steenbergs English Breakfast Tea & Steenbergs Jasmine Green Tea

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015

Many thanks to our tea taster panel who this month had the delights of tasting Steenbergs English Breakfast Tea: a strong, aromatic blend of organic Fairtrade teas from Sri Lanka and Assam, Kerala and Darjeeling in India; and Steenbergs Green Tea with Jasmine: a delicately flavoured green flower tea from China.  Two very different teas with unique flavours and we loved hearing how, when and why you enjoy drinking them.

Steenbergs organic Jasmine Green Tea 

organic-jasmine-green-tea-loose-leaf-tea-caddy

We asked you to describe the flavour and aroma of the tea and the predominant descriptions were floral, sweet, light, fresh, delicate and (luckily!) jasmine. Interestingly one of you who wasn’t keen on the flavour of scented teas still loved the aroma! We did love the fact that one of our panel likened the tea to ‘coming home – similar to a pair of cashmere bedsocks!’

We were also fascinated to find out how it made you feel, with many of you saying relaxed, refreshed and healthy – what more could you want from a tea!  Other notable quote included: ‘both myself and my 2 year old give a big thumbs up to the Jasmine Green Tea'; ‘much nicer than jasmine flowers which I find too heady or sickly’; ‘warm climes with jasmine abundant on every corner’; ‘evokes holiday & summer memories’; and ‘floral with perfect level of bitterness’.

Around half of our tea panel were already green tea drinkers with a wide scope of brands and varieties regularly enjoyed, including long jing and gunpowder. Brewing of the tea averaged 4-5 minutes but again it was often down to personal preference.

When assessing the overall preference for teas, the Jasmine was more popular than the English Breakfast. However, other interesting teas were mentioned such as Silver Needles, Gingerbread Chai, Redbush, Rose & Bergamot & Happy Hippy, all making it into your top tea choice.  It shows the great range and variety of teas available to us now, with green, white and herbal teas vying for position with our traditional black teas to be your favourite.  We certainly had an expert panel though, with 76% of you championing tea as your favourite daytime drink.

 Jasmine Green Tea

Steenbergs organic Fairtrade English Breakfast Tea

english-breakfast-tea-in-caddy-organic-fairtrade

With comments such as: ‘good balance of high & low tones’, ‘good subtle flavour’ and the ultimate accolade of being ‘better than PG’, many of you enjoyed the flavoursome qualities of this black tea, although a few of you did feel that it could be more intense and fuller in flavour.

Our tea tasters were evenly split in their desire to try it with or without milk, with 63% preferring to drink it in the morning than any other time of day.

Half of our tea tasters use a pot to brew their tea, with 27% preferring a mug and the rest going with the flow.  The majority of our panel do have a favourite mug from which to drink their tea with all sorts of shapes and sizes to choose from.  Porcelain was popular as were some personal favourites: an Emma Bridgewater mug saying ‘Best Friend’; a tall thin Disney Princess mug or a big wide green stoneware mug.  On average the tea was brewed for 3-4 minutes, although anywhere between 1 and 8 minutes was noted.

For that first drink of the morning, many of you always go for tea (60%) with hot or cold water (24%) being increasingly popular than coffee (12%).  A luxury for some, a newspaper is only standard with your cuppa for 40% of you, with The Times and The Guardian featuring as the most popular reads.

Have a look at some of the words used to describe Steenbergs English Breakfast Tea – the larger the word the more times it was mentioned.  Do you agree?

English Breakfast

Although a rather unfair comparison with two distinct teas, 70% of you did prefer the Green Jasmine to the English Breakfast.  Are we becoming more international with our flavours? More health conscious? Or, as with many things, is it just down to our own personal preference.