by kate on January 11th, 2013
Canton Tea Club Week 15
We are delighted this week to welcome our guest tea selector, Adam Byatt. First and foremost a chef, Adam is also a restaurateur and food writer. He has appeared on screen a number of times, as a regular on BBC1’s Saturday Kitchen and numerous other cooking and lifestyle shows. Beginning his career in the frenetic kitchen of the legendary Claridges Hotel at the age of 16, Adam was sous-chef at the Square restaurant when it gained its second Michelin star. He now runs Trinity, widely regarded as one of the best restaurants in London.
Adam: My first day as a new recruit at the esteemed Square restaurant saw me bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. My eyes were opened that day to what was to become a love affair with privately-owned restaurants with a fast beating heart and plenty of rock and roll.
And this has what to do with tea?
Well, the first dish I ever cooked at The Square was a tagliatelli of pheasant poached in Earl Grey with a thyme Chantilly. Coming from a strictly PG background, I had never experienced loose leaf tea, and I had certainly never encountered the delights of bergamot and citrus in my metallic half-brewed, fairly insipid water. The dish was a triumph; I stayed – for a long time.
Nowadays I do understand tea. Not only do I buy and sell a lot of it, I also relish its inner refreshment.
Earl grey is a drink I choose not to relax me but when I am already quite mellow, sometimes just with a slice of lemon but mostly with a dash of milk.
I tried the Canton Organic Earl Grey today for the first time. It has the herbal notes, the bergamot is present but it lingers, not in a metallic way but in a palate-cleansing, pleasing way.
The citrus notes are zingy but not bitter. I think it’s the floral element from the Darjeeling that I really like. It’s less nice with a slice but I guess that’s because this tea is already balanced.
The colour always makes me long for my old friend – that coffee I can stand a spoon in. But once I go there I do really love this tea, and I may even poach some feathered friends in it for old time’s sake.
The Classic had a nice richness, with a hint of malt, at least if the brew was just on the mark. I didn't find the bergamot overwhelming and thought the balance was OK. 2 further infusions were possible, but the good balance didn't readily transfer itself to them.
I still have to try a stronger brew for the addition of a little milk. Would this be worthwhile?
The Organic special blend was superb. the cotton candy sweetness of the Arya held up to the begamot and this took 3 infusions really well, eg seconds 75, 160, 360.
As an aside, this Darjeeling estate is second to none and puts the rest to shame. That said, does Canton have the Teas of any other such Estates up its sleeve?
I think the classic did have a little too much bergamot for my tastes, I couldn't really get a strong sense of the tea behind it. I'm not entirely sure what the blend was, but I suspect something a bit heavier which more-readily gave off its tannins might have appealed more to what I like in an earl grey. I got a much better sense of the base tea with the organic, but again missed that tannin-rich backdrop which would offset the sharpness of the bergamot.
I thought the classic, with or without milk, was a very pleasant but unremarkable earl grey. I didn't find the bergamot overpowering. Indeed the citrussy flavour was not as marked as some earl greys I have tried. However, the darjeeling-based organic was a revelation - much more refreshing, pleasing and satisfying than my usual earl grey cup. 3 or 4 infusions were possible,so it is also great value for money. The natural sweetness of the tea and the bergamot balanced out perfectly. However, I have one question. I know cornflowers are making their way into other earl grey blends, and they make the tea look pretty, but do they add anything at all to the flavour? I suspect not, in which case I wonder why they are added?
The Classic tastes too much of bergamot for my tastes. I found it overwhelming. The Organic is absolutely spot on and is now on my wish list for future purchases. So much tea, so little time!
Didn't think 45 seconds gonna be enough time for the organic one; but I kept true to the instructions and it's turned out great! Lovely drink for coming home after work :)