February 09, 2016
Tea Review - East India Company Fine Foods Teas
The East India Company was created by Royal Charter in 1600. After two hundred and seventy three years later of monopolistic trade, and colonial and military expansion, the company was dissolved in 1873 with the Regulating Act of 1773 (aka the East India Company Act 1773) as well as the East India Company Act 1784 (aka Pitt's India Act). For a more thorough history, that is, to fill in between 1600 and 1873, read the EIC Wikipedia page, the company's Our Heritage webpage, and if you'd like a longer read, check out The Guardian's review of William Dalrymple’s book, The Anarchy: How a Corporation Replaced the Mughal Empire, 1756-1803. The company has rather a checkered history but I know you came for notes on their contemporary teas.
In my tea pantry are three beautiful tins of tea - Royal Breakfast, a blend of Indian and Sri Lankan black teas; Boston Tea Party, a blend of Chinese black and green teas; and The Staunton Earl Grey, again a blend of Indian and Sri Lankan black teas but with bergamot and neroli (orange) oils. Let's start with the Earl Grey. In general, Earl Grey is not one of my favorite teas, but there are a couple of Earl Greys that I have enjoyed. Unfortunately this is not one of them. The aroma and flavor were overwhelming.
I was really curious about the Boston Tea Party because it is reportedly based on the original varieties of tea thrown overboard during the historic event. I like this tea. It has a smoky aroma which you can taste. The actual smells and flavors are of clove, leather, very toasted bread, and hardwoods. There is some contradictory information on the company's website about the specific teas in the blend. In one place, it describes the blend as "black Chinese Keemun tea, and black and green Yunnan teas" while in another it lists the ingredients as "Chun Mee, Atterkhat, and Kaimosi teas from India & China." In either case, the combination works. You can enjoy this tea with or without milk.
My favorite of the three is the Royal Breakfast, and it's good in the morning and in the afternoon. It is very good plain and fantastic with milk. The tea is a blend of Ceylon and Assam. It is rich, full-bodied, flavorful, brisk; everything that you would like to taste in a classic "breakfast tea" blend. This blend would be a great base for a masala chai.
The teas were paired with Seville Orange Marmalade cookies, or if you are British you would refer to them as sweet biscuits. The aroma and taste exude orange but not in an obnoxious manner. The cookies are crunchy and bits of dried orange add a chewy texture. Earl Grey and Assam teas are recommended to drink with the cookies. Go Boston Tea Party or Royal Breakfast. (They pair well with tieguanyin, too.)
Teas and cookies provided for review.