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* * Ashbys Teas of London Est-1850: * *
James Ashby, a traditional family man, established the Ashbys Tea firm in London in 1850. Importing and packaging only the highest quality teas from the most prestigious tea growing areas of the world. Ashbys Teas have become a standard among fine English teas. Ashbys Teas offers quality, freshness and packaging that reflects the heritage the English have come to expect of a great tea.
Ashbys Teas of London are an excellent way to start or end your day. Enjoy the finest quality of teas the world has to offer.
Although it was the Dutch who first brought tea to Europe early in the 17th century, it remains the British who hold the reputation as “Tea-drinking nation”, at least in terms of quantity.
Their five o’clock tea parties would hardly be complete without the traditional cream, sugar lumps, and biscuits or scones.
Admiring the aura that the average British household manages to create around a pot of the simplest tea.
The British taste in tea is for the rougher, more robust, quick brewing variety of teas such as English Breakfast, Afternoon and Earl Grey.
Did You Know...
New research at Harvard University shows people who drank five cups of black tea a day for 2 weeks transformed their imune system cells to pump out 10 times more cold and flu virus-fighting interferon.
Tealeaves produce organic compounds that help defend the plant against infection. These same compounds are preserved in both green and black tea, and have been shown to inhibit the spread and growth of the flu virus. Numerous studies have found that both tea and tea extracts significantly reduces the incidence of flu in the young, elderly, and healthcare workers who are at higher risk of infection.
AFTERNOON TEA - A delicate blend of Ceylon teas that's perfect for the traditional afternoon tea hour. This tea goes very well with pastries, cakes or freshly baked scones with Lemon Curd.
In the history of tea, Black Tea is a comparatively new arrival. For a long time after the Dutch traders brought the first leaves to Europe in the early 17th century, the only option was green Tea from China.
Then, when the British developed a voracious appetite for the new drink in the 19th century they set about cultivating and producing the tea themselves.
EARL GREY - Named after the Prime Minister to China in 1830, Earl Grey derives its famous flavor from oil of bergamot (an oil from the rind of the fruit of Citrus Bergamia). An excellent special occasion or after-dinner tea.
Soon they had mastered the process, setting up huge tea gardens in every corner of their colonial empire where climatic conditions were favorable. They began to develop new strains of tea, tailored to suit their tastes, and invented new production techniques.
The Europeans were delighted with the new darker and stronger varieties, and this marked the beginning of Black Teas dominance of the European Market.
ENGLISH BREAKFAST - A blend of China Black Keemun teas. Named after the English who felt the bold flavor of this blend was enhanced by adding milk.
A cup of tea contains about half the caffeine as a cup of coffee. However, tea can be decaffeinated by some of the same processes as coffee. Ethyl acetate is the most common method of decaffeination. Ethyl acetate is a by-product of natural fruit acid, is not carcinogenic, and removes 98% of the caffeine from the tea.
ENGLISH BREAKFAST DECAF. - Same great taste as English Breakfast, only decaffeinated.
* * The Tea Plant * *
The tea plant is a tropical and subtropical evergreen that belongs to the Camellia family. The Camellia plant most familiar in the West is the shiny, green leaved Camellia Japonica with its red, white, or pink flowers, but by far the most important Camellia is Camellia Sinensis, whose young leaves and unopened leaf buds are processed in various ways into the dried tea leaves familiar all over the world.
Tea is grown on estates that range in size from a quarter acre farmed by a single family to giant plantations with hundreds of acres. The bushes are kept pruned to a height of 3 feet for easy harvesting of leaves and each acre typically has three to five thousand tea bushes. A tea plant may remain productive for over a century. Only about half the leaves produced during the life of the bush are actually picked and processed for market.
The crop taken from the tea bushes consist of young leaf shoots and the unopened leaf bud. These are rich in caffeine and the organic compounds that are responsible for the smell and taste of the tea. Picking, which is really plucking and is often called that, is either "fine" or "course." Two leaves and a leaf bud is fine plucking, three or more leaves and a leaf bud is consider course plucking. High quality teas are always harvested with fine plucking. Unlike many crops, tea is plucked or harvested at least three times a year and sometimes dozens.
* * Did you know that... * *
The four main categories of tea - black, green, oolong and white - all begin with the Camellia sinensis plant. What makes them so different is what happens to them after they are harvested.
Black teas are simply leaves that have been through a careful fermentation process. Though there are many subtle variations, the basic method of fermentation is as follows: the harvested leaves are withered, then rolled (sometimes by hand) to release the enzymes that will cause fermentation. Next, the leaves are spread out and monitored for the right color and pungency. Finally, the tea is "fired," or heat dried.
Oolong tea was first produced approximately 400 years ago and is partially oxidized, falling between green and black tea. The production of valuable Oolong requires time, tradition, and careful craftsmanship. As opposed to black tea where the cell walls of the leaves are broken open, the edges of the Oolong tealeaves are merely torn. This is a very sophisticated process and requires many years of practical experience.
Oolong is a semi-fermented tea first manufactured is Formosa (now Taiwan). The leaves are spread three of four inches deep in baskets, which are set if the sun and shaken frequently to bruise their outer edges, spurring fermentation. When the leaves give off their signature fragrance (variously compared to peaches, apples and orchids) the baskets are passed in and out of a charcoal fire to halt fermentation. Becaused it is generally produced with larger leaves than other teas, oolong is the best tea in which to read your future.
Fresh and clean-tasting, green tea has a more subtle flavor than black. The first step in green tea processing is panfiring, wherein the leaves are exposed to hot steam to destroy the enzymes that would otherwise cause them to ferment. The rolling step takes place on heated tables to dry the leaves further. Lastly, they are fired, graded and packed. The entire process takes only one day.
The first recorded mention of Green Tea dates back to around 600 BC. Then, in 780 AD the poet, Lu Yu, describes its cultivation and properties in great detail. In that same century Buddhist monks brought the first tea from China to Japan, and cultivation began there in modest quantities.
As with Black Tea, the concentration of active substances in the cup can be controlled through varying the leaf dosage, brewing times, and water temperature. Because Green Tea leaves have a higher concentration of active substances, and the leaves release their properties quickly, the sustaining or invigorating properties of Green Tea are perceived to be more immediate.
For centuries, the varieties of white tea – highly prized for their delicate, fragrant, and fine flavor- were a privilege reserved for the Chinese elite.
Recognize white tea by the silvery, white downy hairs that remain on the unopened leaf buds even after the harvest takes place thanks to very gentle processing. Gentle processing also helps ensure that the tea retains its essential nutrients.
The harvested leaf is only wilted and dried – this means that the cell walls within the leaf also remain undamaged for the most part, and hardly any of the essential oils are exposed to react with the oxygen in the surrounding air.
The high content of polyphenols, anti-oxidants, minerals, vitamins, and trace elements found in white tea are the basis of its continued use in traditional Chinese medicine.
Note: All prices in US Dollars