Tregothnan is the first and only tea plantation in England. Here, in a quiet corner of Cornwall, Camellia sinensis plants are cultivated for use in an impressive range of truly English teas (and tisanes). The owners of the private estate, which dates back to the 14th century, began growing ornamental Camellias 200 years ago, but only began experimenting with cultivating Camellia sinensis (the tea plant) a little more recently. Their first tea blend was marketed in 2005, and the positive responses have led to an expansion of the range of teas that they grow, as well as to a wider market for their teas, which reaches as far as China. (There’s a nice bit of irony in this fact, or maybe it’s just the tea trade come full circle.)
February 2014 marked an important development in the Tregothnan tea business, as they entered into a partnership with a British supermarket chain, Waitrose, who are stocking their tea in select branches across the UK for a trial period.
I decided to take advantage of the increased availability of Tregothnan’s tea to get my hands on some in order to sample it. Tregothnan’s range of tea includes four black teas, one green tea, and eleven herbal infusions (which they quite correctly refer to as such). The two blends that I managed to hunt down in Waitrose were two staples of the Tregothnan range: Classic Tea and Earl Grey.
Tregothnan’s Classic Tea was their first ever blend, and as such, the first tea to be grown and sold in England. The tea combines hand-picked leaves from the Tregothnan plantation with Assam leaves to deliver, as the name suggests, a classic breakfast blend.
Tregothnan sell both loose tea and bagged tea (or “sachets”), but the tea introduced to Waitrose is only in bagged form. Whilst this is perhaps slightly disappointing, their decision also makes complete sense: whilst many supermarket shoppers may enjoy loose tea, there are still many more bagged tea drinkers out there, and those looking for Tregothnan’s loose tea can always order it online.
I often have bagged tea when I am brewing myself up a good breakfast blend (think PG Tips, Barry’s, or Lyon’s), so having Tregothnan’s Classic Tea in bagged form did not particularly bother me. I boiled the water and let the tea steep for just over 3 minutes. This produced a brew with a full flavour, which was complemented very nicely by a dash of milk. A classic cup of tea indeed! For my second cup (some time later), I left the teabag in for just over four and a half minutes—black tea brewing times can vary between 3 and 5 minutes, depending on the specific blend and individual taste preferences. I enjoy a good strong cup of tea, and this longer steeping time brought out the flavours of the blend even better, without causing any bitterness. This may be too strong for some people’s tastes, but since I often like a good, strong cup of black tea in the morning, a slightly longer steep time would be my preference for this blend.
Tregothnan’s Classic Tea is exactly what it promises to be: a classic cup of English tea, which makes for a lovely morning brew.
Keep an eye out for my discussion of Tregothnan’s Earl Grey—coming soon!
See more of Elise Nuding’s articles here.
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