When I first moved to ol’ Blighty, I was very much a coffee kinda girl. The lack of decent coffee shops was seriously frustrating as was my colleagues’ habit of asking if I wanted a cuppa for any time and occasion.
7 years later, a lot has changed. Not only has London embraced coffee culture in a big way (Time Out’s London v New York coffee wars made me chuckle), but this Kiwi girl has also begun to drink a bit of tea. Flavoured teas, Earl Grey, some Chai, an occasional black tea and very very rarely Green tea.
The masterclass is held in a cosy private room at the Paramount, overlooking a very pretty lit up London. We’re greeted with a cup of what I originally think is a different kind of white wine, perhaps non alcoholic white wine, when I’m told it is in fact a cold infusion of Jing Silver Needle tea. I’m sold already. It’s one of the teas we will be sampling a little later, but I already know this cold infusion is one I’ll be wheeling out for summer BBQ’s as my entertaining secret.
We’re here to try 3 teas, with a special bonus number at the end – the Silver Needle White tea, Anji Green Tea, the Phoenix Honey Orchid Oolong tea and the rarest of them all, the Jing Wild Wuyi Gold tea.
We are starting off with the mildest of the three teas and working our way up. So first up is the Jing Silver Needle White Tea, which I’m already pretty sold on.
There’s a really short space of time that this tea is picked – only about one week a year in early spring as it is picked when the tea leaves are in individual buds. It makes for a really light mellow tea, perfect without milk and delicious when cold.
There’s a real ceremony to making the tea, the gorgeous glass teapots you see are specially made for Jing (And can be found on their website here) and lend an air of calm and elegance to the tea making ritual.
Next up, we try the Anji Green Tea – this too is a ‘young’ tea, picked at the beginning of spring, a little later than the Silver Needle, but still fresh and therefore suitable for anytime of the day. You know it’s ready to drink when your tea turns the colour of champagne!
I’ve never really warmed to green tea, but on drinking this, I see why people are fond of it – I’m not entirely persuaded but I can certainly see their point!
We now move onto trying Oolong tea – Oolong teas are rolled and lightly oxidised and make for a more intense flavour. We’re trying Phoenix Honey Orchid Oolong tea and it’s recommended you have this one without milk also as it allows you to really taste the flavours of the tea.
We have a little break to sample some Dim Sum and come to the piece de resistance. We’re lucky enough to try the Jing Wild Wuyi gold, one of the world’s most expensive teas. How expensive can tea be you ask? Well, a 10g bag will set you back £90, equating to about £30 for a cuppa!
This is a connoisseurs tea, there’s no mistake. It has a rich malty, nutty flavour, discernable even to my heathen tastebuds. It’s prepared in extremely small batches hence the price tag!
Jing Tea is served at some of the best hotels and restaurants worldwide, only fitting given the care and ceremony they attach to their beautiful teas. Our hostess for the evening is a real tea aficionado, her passion for tea is obvious in everything she says and does and I think it might be catching on, even to this one-time tea hater.