Product Review – Kenyan tea
I recently met up with a friend who described Wrap Your Lips Around This as ‘a blog for restaurants and, weirdly, tea’. I suppose it’s a bit overt and he has a point, but there just aren’t that many things as satisfying as a cuppa. It’s a simple thing that doesn’t require a lot of effort, and there is so much variety and history to become immersed in. To add to my collection, I’m trying out a few of the teabags from Williamson Tea, a family business now in its fifth generation of farming tea.
Williamson Tea grow and blend all of their tea on their own farms in Kenya which are all UTZ and Rainforest Alliance certified, using knowledge accumulated over more than 140 years of harvesting tea. Their ability to control the process from tea bush to tea bag is unique, and as a consumer I appreciate and have faith in that sort of accountable, short chain, cradle to grave approach, which is so often missing from the food industry.
Each of the four Williamson Tea farms in Kenya have distinct weather and geographical conditions that result in tea varieties that have their own diverse characteristics. Parameters such as the intensity and frequency of rainfall, sunshine and elevation above sea level have a part to play in determining the character of the tea leaves, as well as soil acidity and the age of the plants harvested.
The Kapchorua farm, located on the eastern slopes of the Nandi hills, is spread over around six square miles and bisected by the Timobo River. Kapchorua has high points that stretch to an altitude of 7,000 feet, and farmlands that sit adjacent to the indigenous rainforests of the region. The Kapchorua farm produces plants whose leaves are processed and used in the Kenyan ‘High Grown’ tea varieties, that brew to a characteristically hay-toned hue and bright, strong taste. One of the High Grown teas I’m trying today is the ‘Traditional Afternoon Tea’, presented in a limited edition ‘Stained Glass’ Elephant Caddy. The Elephant Caddy range feature blown out metal canisters that are printed with striking elephant motifs, that are eminently collectible.
Williamson Tea also offer a premium Mini Cru range of tea bags, featuring the best tea leaves from each of the four Williamson farms. The Mini Cru range is made up of four canisters of tea, including the ‘Earl Grey with Blue Flowers’ which is a blend of fresh black tea from the Kaimosi farm mixed with bergamot oil and blue cornflowers picked from the Nandi hills; the ‘Pure Green with Earl Grey’ blend, which uses tea from the Tinderet farm; ‘Purple Blush’ from the Changoi farm, a tea that changes colour when you add a slice of lemon; and lastly the robust ‘Zinga Black’ tea picked from Ejulu tea bushes that grow on the edges of the Nyayo forest.
The Mini Cru range are presented in handsome brushed metal canisters, with a double protective seal to preserve the tea leaves inside. Whilst there’s nothing better than a good loose leaf tea, the convenience of using tea bags is undeniable and the high quality nylon used at Williamson makes for a good alternative.
The Mini Cru range is available from £6.50 at Selfridges and through the online Williamson shop, and the limited edition Elephant Caddies are available from £9.50.
I was sent the products to review