Blending The Perfect Tea
The immaculate railway arch, home of My Cup Of Tea and host to our lesson in the art of herbal infusions, was in stark contrast to the rather more grubby exterior of its South East London location. Sparkling white and spotless and lined with enormous lidded glass jars filled with dried herbs, fruits and flowers.
Talking to Ausra Burg, the lady behind My Cup Of Tea, and seeing how these ingredients are meticulously sourced, preserved and stored you start to get an understanding of what herbal tea should really be about.
There is nothing to hide behind here, no aroma boosters and certainly none of the synthetic flavourings that many herbal tea manufacturers employ. When you are dealing with just a few simple ingredients the quality needs to be of the highest standard in order to stand up. In this case the ingredients more than speak for themselves.
Ausra grew up in a rural setting picking herbs with her mother from the local fields surrounding their house. A self taught natural herbalist, her mother was scrupulous in the way she worked – herbs were picked at exactly the same time each year and detailed records kept in the ‘bible’ of herbs she built up. These skills have clearly been passed on, becoming Ausra’s life passion, borne out through My Cup Of Tea, which she launched in 2008.
“It’s not rocket science”, explains Ausra, just simple techniques and basic principles. The quality of the raw materials is paramount, which sees Ausra exploring Europe, her mother’s native Lithuania and as far as Africa to find. Flowers and herb buds are hand picked at the optimal moment for flavour and aroma and kept whole before being dried naturally in manually rotated trays. No heat is applied; just gentle fans to circulate the air and prevent the herbs from ‘sweating’.
Our mission, on the day we headed down to Bermondsey, was to create our own unique blend to add to the stable of My Cup Of Tea infusions we already stock. First we were invited to smell each of the herbs from the huge glass jars – wafts of sweet Moroccan mint, honey scented lime blossom from France, smoky dried raspberries and the most incredible ‘ice cream’ like wild strawberries, as well as nettles and mildly acidic blackcurrant leaves.
After some blending and tasting we settled on an infusion using cardamom and mint. Our session over, and our heads full of a million flavour combinations we went home dreaming of these wonderful herbs.
The final samples arrived a few days later. Ausra had worked her magic and the resulting infusion blended sweet Moroccan mint with interesting vanilla notes from the Guatemalan cardamom, while the addition of crisp dried apples from Lithuania and South African green rooibos created a balancing base.
Along with the samples came an unusual recommendation from Ausra, “Try a cold brew with one of your Chocolate Chip Biscuits”, which we of course duly obeyed. The result was surprising – the tea balanced the richness of the chocolate and had a pleasing cleansing effect that carried a cool sweetness over your tongue making you eager for the next bite of biscuit – we couldn’t wait for the next mouthful.
Our exclusively blended Good Morning and Good Afternoon teas are available at both our shops and for nationwide delivery from our Online shop, £3.95 for 20 muslin tea bags. We think its perfect for afternoon tea, although we’ve been known to have a pot on the go for the whole day.