National Tea Day on 21st April is a day dedicated to the celebration of the nation's favourite hot beverage.
Many would be surprised to know that tea is grown here in the UK. The unique micro-climate on the Tregothnan estate in Cornwall has produced the world’s first true English tea which has been heralded as the ‘new Darjeeling.’
Home to the Boscawen family, Tregothnan is a living and working private Cornish estate, with a rich history dating back to 1334.
Located just eight miles from the coast, with the deep sea creek of the Fal Estuary running through Tregothnan, the warm and wet conditions are perfect for the thriving tea plantations which allow the estate to grow and produce the most British tea in history. The estate began supplying Britain’s ﬁrst homegrown tea in 2005.
There are five stages to the ‘bush to cup’ process and at Tregothnan it takes just 36 hours:
- Pluck: The first flush is picked by hand at dawn with just the top two leaves and the bud taken from branches of the Camellia sinensis bush. The leaves are then laid onto bamboo or straw mats to allow gentle withering.
- Wither: A warm, dry area is necessary for the leaves to become limp and pliable. The atmospheric conditions affect the amount of time required for the leaves to be withered.
- Roll: Rolling is a crucial stage in processing black tea. Traditionally rolled by hand (a circular movement between the palms), the more intense the rolling, the stronger the resulting flavour. The leaves should disintegrate in your hands and curl easily into balls as their cell structures become broken and bruised with rolling.
- Oxidise: The next step is oxidisation. This involves spreading the rolled leaves on a flat surface and keeping them at a controlled temperature. As the natural liquids in the cells interact, the colour changes from green to brown. Green tea varies in that oxidisation is replaced by steaming, retaining the natural green colour.
- Dry: The final stage is to dry the leaves to around 5% moisture. For small quantities of tea, a warming oven is ideal. Once the leaves have reduced to a darkened, crisp crunchy state, they are ready for drinking.
To view Tregothnan’s extensive tea range click here.
Five surprising facts about tea:
- Tea is made from the Camellia sinensis bush.
- Black, green, white, oolong, matcha teas all come from the same bush.
- By the mid 18th Century tea replaced ale and gin as the drink of the masses to become Britain's most popular beverage.
- It takes 10 years to train to become a tea master.
- The average time a British person waits for their tea to brew is 22 seconds. Tregothnan know a decent cup of tea needs at least three minutes!
UK’s Largest Charity Garden Opening 2018
The historic Tregothnan estate is open for only one weekend each year. This year it coincides with National Tea Day. People from all over the country and beyond flock to this quiet corner of Cornwall, likening the experience to a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory ‘Golden Ticket’, due to the normally private nature of the wonderland inside. Visitors to the charity weekend will not only be supporting the Merlin MS Centre near St Austell, but will also have the opportunity to explore 100 acres of botanical paradise including a record-breaking Camellia Maze and some of the world’s largest Rhododendrons. To purchase your ‘golden ticket’ click here.