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The Tea Guide
Tea is at the heart of Harrods’ heritage, so it is only fitting that we share our knowledge. Charles Henry Harrod began his career as a grocer and tea merchant, founding the Knightsbridge store in 1849, where the tea counter quickly established a trade of £200 per week – a formidable amount for the era – and Harrods’ tea trade has continued to flourish.
Brush up on your tea trivia below and shop the exclusive teas from our famous Harrods Food Halls.
Black, green and white tea all comes from the same leaf; as with wine, the variation comes from the time period and conditions of the fermentation process. Once the tea leaf is picked, it is withered, rolled, fermented and fired – a short fermentation period produces a green tea, while black teas are left longer to develop.
Soil, altitude and climate all influence the subtle flavours of a tea; the finest teas grow at high altitudes and should be plucked before the sunrise, when the natural fragrance is at its peak. The Indian tea season begins in March – teas plucked at this time are known as ‘first flush’; ‘second flush’ teas are picked in the prime season from the end of May to the beginning of June and ‘rain teas’ are harvested at the end of the July monsoon that produces a rapid growth of new leaves.
Once harvested and fermented, teas are blended to create the unique flavour profiles you can find across the world: teas from different regions can be blended to vary in strength and flavour, or natural oils can be added for subtle variations.
Storing tea in an airtight container is imperative to prolonging the delicate flavours, particularly with green and white teas.
Loose leaf teas are best served in a small teapot of no more than 300ml; be generous with the leaf and use around 5g per 300ml pot. Green teas, white teas and yellow teas taste best when infused with 60°C-80°C water so that the delicate flavours are not lost, while black teas, oolong and puerh require near-boiling water. Infuse the tea for three minutes and serve. Pour all of the infusion into your cup or into a new teapot to ensure that tea leaves are not left to stew in the pot, which will result in a bitter flavour.
Taking tea with milk is a personal preference. Historically, milk was poured first into the teacup, as boiling tea causes delicate bone china to crack, signifying that your tea service was indeed made from pure bone china.
1950s Red Seal Puerh – an exceptional tea that has been aged for more than 50 years, this blend from Xisuanbanna in China’s southern Yunnan province produces a deep, ruby liquor believed, by some experts, to present the palate with more than 400 different flavours. Available exclusively from Harrods Tea & Coffee Hall, Ground Floor.
Opulence Darjeeling Ambootia Tea – nestled high in the Himalayas, this tea is nourished by the pristine rains and pure mountain air, with lively flavours and a lingering hint of peach; picked exclusively for Harrods.
Opulence Assam Dikom Tea – a full-bodied blend with zesty flavours, Assam makes an ideal morning brew or afternoon pick-me-up.
Strong Breakfast Tea – a blend of Kenyan and Assam teas gives this breakfast tea a robust kick; available in teabags for when you’re short on time.
Why not try…steeping Earl Grey tea in a small amount of boiling water and fold into buttercream icing; works wonderfully with lemon or lavender-infused sponge cakes.
See yourself as more of a coffee connoisseur? Brush up on your skills with our Style Insider Coffee Guide.