At Blackbird we pride ourselves with the quality of our teas. We use only the very best leaves that are imported by the very best blenders. Below we have included a few descriptions about our teas including some historical and geographical notes.
If there are any particular teas that you enjoy and that you would like to take home with you please speak to one of our staff who would be delighted to sell you a 125g bag of fresh loose leaf tea.
For our English Breakfast tea we us a loose leaf Ceylon tea which is bright and full-flavoured. Usually drunk with a small amount of milk, its refreshing and thirst-quenching character means it can be enjoyed at any time of day. The full leaves require a slightly longer brewing time than the fine leaf teas however the taste and quality is superior. Full Leaf Ceylon comes from the famous tea growing region of Uva. Located on the Eastern slopes of Sri Lanka's central mountain area, tumbling haphazardly down from Nuwara Eliya's high wooded plateau. These are high-grown teas, at elevations of between 3000 and 5000 feet, and of comparable quality to those of Dimbula to the West, but often with a very particular character known as "wintergreen". This can be an acquired taste but it quickly becomes quite addictive! The Uva Ceylons - flavoury, rich, positive teas whose character comes from pure flavour rather than brute strength - are the perfect afternoon teas. This is a large, beautiful leaf, full of quality and colour. The liquor it produces is aromatic, sweet, supple and a bright amber in colour. This is certainly a tea we highly recommend you try and you really would be missing out if you don’t.
There are various stories about why this famous tea, scented with Bergamot oil, is so called. They tend to involve one of the 2nd Earl Grey's servants making a daring rescue and a gift of tea to Earl Grey in gratitude.
In fact Indian tea, and subsequently Chinese tea, had been scented with the oil of Bergamot, a citrus, orange-like fruit, for many years. It was however Earl Grey who popularised it by serving it to his guests when he was Prime Minister in the 1830s.
This blend uses the finest Keemun from China's Anhui Province and Darjeeling, “the Champagne of Teas”, from India, infused with the finest quality pure natural Bergamot oil. The addition of cornflower petals to this blend makes this tea special and uniquely beautiful.
Assam is in the East part of India, in the valley of the River Brahmaputra. The climate here is uncomfortable for people, but ideal for growing tea, and it is even possible that the tea plant is indigenous to this region.
Classic Assam teas such as this are rich and full-flavoured with plenty of colour and a distinct malty character, with some sweetness. They are ideal for drinking with milk at breakfast time and throughout the day and have enough flavour and richness to accompany food well, even a classic full English breakfast.
Darjeeling is the world capital of quality tea. This region, high in the foothills of the Indian Himalayas, produces low yields and exceptional quality. Darjeeling is called the Champagne of teas. Darjeeling tea always has a toasty, muscatel flavour. Each flush (growth spurt) has a slightly different flavour, and teas also vary considerably with “terroir” – the combination of climate, soil, etc that makes each garden unique. This mid-season tea has more body than the 1st and 2nd flushes, which really brings out the Darjeeling character and means that the tea will take milk if desired.
Lapsang Souchong, with its famous tarry aroma, divides opinion sharply. It is a tea that you either love or hate.
The distinctive smokiness originally occurred naturally during growing and processing, caused by the bitumastic soil and the smoke from the fires under the drying woks. The taste was popular in England, so the practice of smoking the teas developed.
Lapsang Souchong is more delicate tea than many people realise. The better the quality, the milder the smoky flavour, which should enhance, not overpower, the fine black Fujian Province tea.
A highly aromatic leaf, mint must be the most invigorating of refreshments. “The very smell of it reanimates the spirit,” said the Roman scholar Pliny the Elder back in the first century A.D. We’re inclined to agree with him. An instant pick-you-up, it is deliciously fresh and light and provides important health benefits too.
Peppermint is prepared from the dried leaves of the tree Agonis flexuosa, a cross between water mint and spearmint. It can be found wild throughout Europe and Asia and is now increasingly grown to meet demand in England. It is widely used in cosmetic products for its cleansing properties. It can help ward off colds by acting as a decongestant. During a bout of flu it can promote perspiration and bring the body temperature down by opening up blood flow to the skin. Peppermint contains menthol and can allay nausea. This remarkable herb has even been proven to be effective in conditions such as colitis.
We particularly recommend drinking Peppermint tea before and after a meal as a natural, delicious and refreshing way to aid digestion. Peppermint is naturally caffeine-free so you can enjoy it at any time of day.
Camomile & Lavender
Our Camomile and Lavender herbal tea is a luxurious and delicious blend. We have mixed pungent, yellow, daisy-like whole Camomile Flowers from Egypt, with smooth, rich, soft, relaxing Lavender flowers from Spain. There is more than just relaxation to Camomile and Lavender however. Camomile is used to treat nausea, bloating and stomach pains as well as colitis and eczema. It is also effective against mild hay-fever and colds, and even for muscle aches and pains. The flavours and aromas of Camomile and Lavender complement each other perfectly. Lavender’s soft, subtle, relaxing aroma balances the more pungent, drowsy making quality of Camomile. Each flavour underlines and accentuates the other and they make an ideal match.
China Jasmine Green
Every so often something comes along that makes you happy to be alive. For us, Jasmine tea – and specifically Anhui Province Jasmine green tea - is one such thing. The unmistakeable scent of Jasmine blossoms can stop you in your tracks. When blended with tea they make a delicious, sweet, fruity, delicate drink. The process is however far from simple. The blossoms are harvested first thing in the morning, when the petals are tightly closed. Because the fragrance is most intense at night, they are then stored in a cool place during the day. The following evening, they are mixed with the dry tea leaves in a special machine that uses slightly warm air to transfer the scent from the flowers to the tea. This process is repeated as many times as necessary to achieve the required quality – sometimes as many as 7. Once the flavour is right, the tea is fired again to dry off the moisture it has absorbed from the flowers. Some of the dry Jasmine flowers are sometimes mixed with the tea at this stage (as they are for this China Green Jasmine).
Jasmine is believed to have many health benefits. It is used as an anti-depressant (especially for post-natal depression), as it is reputed to lift mood and to have an energising effect. It is also traditionally used to ease childbirth, soothe coughs and relax muscle pains. Jasmine is commonly used in China to improve irritable, dry or greasy skin and to reduce stretch marks.
Rose Congou, The Emperor of Teas, is just beautiful. A supple, firm non-broken black tea from China, its character becomes almost delicate and ethereal when infused with the scent of thousands of rose petals.
Congou is the generic name for a quality black China tea. This one is very fine, with a good balance of strength and flavour. It is ideal for drinking in the mid-afternoon.
This fine tea is layered with rose petals and left in carefully controlled conditions to absorb the scent of the flowers, which is most intense at night. When you open the bag, the aroma is almost overwhelming, like sniffing a bottle of rosewater. The brewed tea yields a liquor that is subtle and delicate, but still with an unmistakeable rose petal scent.