Did you know that they grow tea in Devon County in Britain? No, not really. But there is a tea company there that bags and sells a tea which is just starting to make a splash (pun intended) here in the U.S. If you’re a Twitterhead like me, you already know that. You also know that they host an afternoon teatime tweet-fest. Of course, since Twitter is global and since it’s afternoon somewhere on that globe all day long, this tweet-fest has the potential to go on continuously. Wow! Teatime 24/7/365!
The company is Devonshire Tea Limited. Its owners, Gavin Sheppard and Debbie Kay, have to attend to tea business sometime. Sheppard and Kay have been co-directors of the company since June, 2006. Sheppard comes from a banking background, having worked as a commercial lending manager for five years. Both he and Kay dived head-first into the tea business by researching tea growing around the world until they found the perfect teas to use in their blend. For a tea that is only available in teabags, it’s one of the better ones. You definitely aren’t getting a bunch of tea dust swept up from the tea factory floor.
We know that the tea plant (Camellia Sinensis) originally came from China and that tea started to be grown in India during the time when they were part of the British Empire. Through the years it also came to be grown in Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon), Japan, and several other countries, including some on the African continent (it’s not all desert, you know). Sheppard and Kay get theirs from four tea plantations in Kenya. This area is high in the mountains and has great soil (bright red volcanic earth) and an ideal climate (hot days, cool nights, plenty of rain, and lots of sunshine) for growing tea. Blending teas from these four plantations results in a tea that is consistent in quality and taste while low in tannins and caffeine. It’s a combination that resulted from a lot of research.
Devonshire Tea is packaging their teabags in collector’s boxes for a limited time. They’re “1st Edition” packaging that feature a diagonal slash band with the words “1st Edition – Collectors Box”. Their company literature says they don’t use plastic, since it could taint the tea. That actually depends on the plastic. The better quality pouches don’t taint the tea nor allow aromas to “migrate” in or out.
Sheppard and Kay’s tea company is based in Plymouth, a seaside town in Devon County in Britain that’s famous for being the launching place of the Mayflower. The county is also famous, not for ships but for its Devonshire Cream Tea, featuring scones with Devon Cream and fruit jams. It’s also one of the tourist spots of Britain, with lots or restaurants and sites of interest. The tea company has been a participant in several local events, a recent one being the Devon County Show, where local products were featured. In 2009, they were award presenters at the Devon Life Food and Drink Awards. Now, they are selling to us here in the U.S., giving us the opportunity to serve a tea befitting that Devonshire Cream Teatime.
Hubby and I like to do our own version of that style of enjoying tea:
- Mr. Kipling Apple & Black Currant Pies (more like little tarts but with a top crust)
- Some whipped cream (didn’t have any Devonshire Clotted Cream on hand)
- Lots of Devonshire Tea with milk and sweetener
- Good company, including hubby and some friends who appreciate good tea
One down note to all of this. That little pyramid-shaped teabag is looking a little sad and somewhat forlorn sitting in the background. His days may be numbered now that the new tea is in town. A taste test will have to decide this, but it will wait for another day.
Get more information on all the latest teas over on A.C.’s blog, Tea Time with A.C. Cargill!