Our tea story
Bringing artisan tea to the University
According to Forbes, tea is still the UK’s favourite drink. Despite the popularity of coffee in British culture and the more recent increased interest in artisan coffee houses, this country remains a nation of tea drinkers.
What is artisan tea?
Artisan tea is essentially still tea leaves, as you might buy from one supplier or another, but according to Fresh Tea Stories the definition of artisan tea could come from the quality of the leaves used, or that production may be done by hand instead of by machine, or that the person preparing the tea, the skilled artisan, is an expert in their job.
The advantage of artisan tea is that the combination of these elements can produce superior flavour to that of machine manufactured tea. However, even the artisan can only create quality tea with quality tea leaves.
What’s wrong with tea bag tea?
The familiar tea bag has been a part of our lives for so long that it’s hard to imagine not popping one into a mug for a quick cuppa while you work - according to Stevie Ashurst; a tea obsessed member of staff who has been working with the Food and Drink team as an advisor on artisan tea - but the tea we get from supermarkets nowadays is so far removed from the traditional teas drunk centuries ago. Now people have demanded their drinks to be ready in seconds, and often don’t have the patience to wait up to five minutes for tea to steep (the correct term for brewing tea).
The Tea People have given a description of the basic grades of tea. This includes whole leaf, broken leaf, fannings and dust. Dust and fannings are what you will typically find inside regular supermarket tea bags. Although considered the lowest grade of tea, it is the only way to get a flavoursome cup of tea in ten seconds. This does not however guarantee that flavour to be a good one. Using whole leaf tea over a longer period of time will allow for the release of more pleasing flavours and aromas, without introducing as much astringency/bitterness.
This is where artisan tea comes in, to give tea drinkers the experience of enjoying the highest quality teas available.
Finding the right teas for Loughborough
The Food and Drink team worked with Stevie to find suitable suppliers who could provide the highest quality teas at a good price and be able to deal with the scale and demand of a University.
After a good deal of investigation and taste testing, the chosen supplier was Adagio Tea. They supply all their teas direct from the farmers across the world, from the usual locations such as China and India to other countries such as South Africa, Egypt and Argentina. You can read more about the farmers who grow the tea on Adagio’s Roots page.
After finding the right supplier, the right selection of teas needed to be chosen. In order to do this a tea tasting session was organised at Martin Hall Cafe, where students and staff were invited to taste a wide range of teas and vote for a selection of their favourites. There was a good turnout on the day, with lots of tasters very pleased with the drinks available. The results of this event have now defined the selection of teas currently on offer.