Tregothnan – Britian’s First Home Grown Tea…
Tregothnan is home to the Boscawen family with a rich history dating back to 1334. The Boscawen family are the largest land owners in Cornwall with 25 thousand acres. Lord Falmouth passed over the estate to his son Evelyn Boscawen 20 years ago after the passing of his wife. He decided the garden needed some energy and vision to move forward and the honourable Evelyn Boscawen brought Tregothnan to where they are today. Jonathon Jones, now managing director, joined Tregothnan in 1996 as head gardener and spent time travelling to tea plantations around the world. One of those plantations resides in the Himalayas, the world’s tallest mountain range and an important tea growing region. On his return Jonathon realised that the estate could sustain Magnolias and Rhododendron, native to the Himalayas, so why shouldn’t they be able to grow tea. It was at this moment that tea at Tregothnan was first established and in 2005 Britain’s first home-grown tea became available.
The Botanical Gardens
The Botanical gardens at Tregothnan are an official safe site for the keeping of rare or endangered trees and plants from all over the world. Some examples include Magnolia Rostrata, Rhododendron, a variety of Camellias and a Wollemi Pine Tree. The Wollemi Pine Tree at Tregothnan is a cutting from the original in the Blue Mountains national park in Australia. A group of these trees were discovered in 1994, there is said to be only 100 in the wild and the Australian government wanted to protect them. The Wollemi Pine Tree at Tregothnan was sold through Sotheby in Sydney and it is to be believed the tree had its own seat on the plane. Within the garden you will find The Himalayan Valley which is home to 500 Camellia Sinensis. The plantation is referred to as the exhibition plantation because it resides in the garden grounds. The Camellia Sinensis was planted around 8 years ago and is just about ready for its first picking.
Tea is made by plucking the flush or shoots of a tea plant and consists of two leaves and a bud. There are four main types of tea and the ways in which the tea leaves are processed determine the type of tea that is created. White Tea is produced entirely from buds and the name comes from the very fine white or silver hairs on the leaves often called silver needle. The most delicate of teas to produce, the buds are plucked before they open, then withered and dried slowly. Green tea is plucked, withered and dried slowly. Black tea is plucked, withered but before it is dried, it is rolled to break down the leaves. This makes the leaves oxidise and turn black. For example if you think of basil or mint, after a tear or rip the leaf tends to turn black or bruised on the edges and that’s the process of oxidisation. In the language of tea that process is called fermentation; the leaves would start to ferment. The most common teas are made with black tea leaves unless they are herbals, also referred to as infusions, which contain a mixture. Tregothnan use black tea as a base and mix other black teas to get the perfect blends for example the Classic or the Earl Grey. The more extravagant tea blends such as the Rose or the Royal Wedding tea undergo a similar process but will be mixed with other ingredients and flavours.
Tregothnan Tea Production
The Tregothnan production unit is a very hands on operation. Wherever possible, they grow their own ingredients and believe it adds to the authenticity of the produce they make. The tea blends they create are made on the estate and are all packaged and sealed by hand. Tregothnan have recently invested in some new machinery which allows them to weigh and seal pouches but they do prefer a more hands on approach as they believe it helps with quality control and helps to reduce packaging waste which is a major issue. Tregothnan tea bags are made from cornstarch which is 100% biodegradable and plastic free. The Tin boxes which were recently introduced to the Tregothnan range encourage the reuse and recycling properties the material has to offer. Buying loose leaf tea is a great way to help reduce waste as it minimises the need for packaging and maximises the amount of produce you will receive. The first tea bag was invented by accident in America by Mr Sullivan Thomas. As a New York tea merchant, he was asked to provide samples of his tea and realised he had no means of transport. He decided to put all of his tea leaves in a silk bag and sent off his goods. The consumers, unsure on how to use the tea leaves, put the whole silk bag in a tea pot and the concept of a tea bag was invented.
When making tea you should try to rest it for 2 to 3 minutes to allow the flavours to blend however this is subject to personal preference and depends on how much flavour/strength you like. The flavour of your tea can also be affected by the type of water you use and the temperature. Similar to coffee, if the water is too hot the tea will burn and the flavour/taste will be compromised. Your average Black tea can be made at 95 degrees, Green tea should be made at 80 degrees and most tea in general often tastes better once it has had time to cool down. Allowing the boiled water to cool before use will help with temperature control – the longer you leave the water, the cooler the water will become. A useful tip – use your hot water to heat the cup and tea pot while you wait. Tregothnan like to use infuser tea pots which allow you to infuse the water for as long as you want and you can conveniently remove the tea when needed. It is useful to have a plate or dish at hand to help remove the tea in a clean way and you can conveniently re-infuse when needed. Tregothnan recommend a 5ml scoop of loose tea per serving and you can reuse your loose tea 2-3 times. Loose leaf Green tea expands to its original size after use and is a great way to measure how much tea you are using.
Green tea is quite a light, subtle flavour that is not too over powering. Because of this Green Tea makes for a good blending tea as it offers a nice background for complimenting other flavours. Green Tea is full of anti oxygenates that makes you feel refreshed and often tastes very different from other teas because it has undergone the least of processes. This is why you will get a slightly grassy, fresher undertone. Green Tea is popular enjoyed after a meal rather than before and is best served without milk.
Green Tea with Jasmine
This blend of green tea has more colour than the original. The Tregothnan green tea leaves are blended with jasmine flowers and China’s finest green tea leaves. The jasmine offers a sweet but smooth flavour and is best served without milk.
Lavender Tea is a black tea with a beautiful colour. This blend consists of Tregothnan home grown black tea, Assam black tea and Lavender from the Cornish Riviera. This fragrant tea is subtle and delicate and is best served without milk.
Red Berry Tea
Red Berry tea is a blend containing strawberries and raspberries from the Tregothnan estate in Kent, apples from Tregothnan Cornish Orchards, English Marigolds and pretty blue cornflowers. The Red berry is a complex blend with a strong taste and Tregothnan are currently working on adapting this blend for a more subtle approach which is considered more favourable.
Breakfast tea is made with the widest variety of leaves ever grown in England and is also blended with Assam. In total the blend incorporates 38 different varieties of Camellia sinensis. With so many varieties this tea offers a bold, malty and rich taste which you can enjoy with or without milk and sweeteners. Milk was first introduced to tea to help soothe the bitter taste much larger tea leaves would have created. When leaves were first brought over to this country sweeteners at the time were not readily available and milk was used as a convenient and effective alternative.
Manuka is a very versatile plant which has been growing for about 200 years. Tregothnan use the Manuka bush to make tea leaves, wood chips and honey. The Manuka tea has a distinctively sweet and spicy flavour and Tregothnan use the wood chips to smoke the tea leaves over adding a nice subtle smoky taste.
Spit Fire Tea
Tregothnan’s new Spitfire Tea is a celebration of the brave men and women who protected our skies since the first RAF planes flew 100 years ago. 2018 is the 100th anniversary of the Royal Air Force. To mark this centenary celebration, Tregothnan has blended two bastions of Britishness – an icon of the skies – the revered Spitfire aircraft and the most British tea in history. Tregothnan’s new Spitfire Tea is a bold, malty and truly English tea made using home grown leaves from their tea gardens in Cornwall. This commemorative tea raises money for the RAF Benevolent Fund who has been supporting the RAF family since 1919. This blend was inspired by the 1941 decree by Sir Winston Churchill during the war in an attempt to revitalise the availability of tea and to become self-sufficient in tea growing. Sixty years later Churchill’s wishes were finally realised when Tregothnan in Cornwall became the first place to grow tea on British soil. The Spitfire Tea is the kind of brew that would have kept British troops hydrated and motivated for action. The packaging is designed with the iconic Spitfire camouflage print and presented in a ration style pack.
Which tea should you be drinking with your food flavours?
Tregothnan are in the process of planting thousands of new tea plants which will make it up to 150 acres in total. To put that in perspective this is rather small compared to China where it is over 2 million. Tregothnan are also currently experimenting with roses with plans of expanding their home grown flavours.
Did you know your tea leaves can be the making for a refreshing ice tea cocktail? With the summer heat some of Tregothnan teas lend themselves extremely well including the Red Berry, Earl Grey or the Classic. For more fantastic recipe ideas check visit the Tregothnans website.
Smokehouse Ice Tea Recipe
- 150ml Tregothnan Earl Grey Tea, for a more intense smoky flavour tregothnan recommend using Cornish Smoked Manuka Earl Grey Tea
- 20g Maple Syrup
- 50 ml Orange Juice
- Orange Slice
- Sprig of Rosemary
- Cold brew 150 ml of your Earl Grey or Cornish Smoked Manuka Earl Grey
- Tea for at least 12 hours.
- Rack off using a fine sieve
- Add 20g of Maple Syrup to a cocktail shaker full of ice
- Pour over your chilled Ice Tea
- Shake Well and pour into a glass full of crushed ice
- Garnish with a slice of orange and sprig of rosemary