About our G&Tea's
Answers by Jon Cooper, Founder & Director at Pekoe Tea, Edinburgh.
Personal History about yourself & how the partnership began?
We've been working with the Secret Herb Garden for almost 10 years on specially blended Earl Grey teas using their herbs. When the Old Curiosity distillery decided they wanted to launch a range of teas to compliment their gins, they approached us again to collaborate on the blends. The timing was perfect because we had just finished building our tea flavouring and blending factory in Leith in Edinburgh. At our factory we are able to blend all our flavoured teas completely from scratch, which gives us complete control over the finished product.
The creation of our G&Tea's: A glimpse into the production process?
The first part of the process was to taste the gins to get an idea of what flavours we were looking for. We tasted the 3 gins both neat and with some tonic water and took some notes. We decided to use a Ceylon(Sri Lankan) black tea as a base because it has a slight tannin to it but at the same time doesn't interfere too much with the overall flavour. The tannin helps give the effect of the alcohol in the finished product.
The Old Curiosity Distillery provided us with all the botanicals used in their gins and the process for us is to then work out the proportions of each we needed to use. The angelica root is grown up at the Secret Herb Garden and the pieces are very large. They are also extremely hard and difficult to break. As part of our process we needed to find a way to break the pieces up to be able to blend with the teas. Once we had a blend of tea and botanicals that was tasting close to the gins we then added some natural flavour oil to lift the flavours and add the sparkle needed to make an exciting tasting tea. It usually takes around 3-5 iterations of a test blend before we are happy with the final product to upscale. Apart from the rose which needed a very small amount of natural rose flavouring, the amount of other flavouring used is minimal and it is really the botanicals themselves that are giving the flavour in the infusions. Our blending machine is small so we manufacture every batch in 10kg quantities and everything is then packed by hand at our factory.
Your favourite G&Tea flavour from our range?
My favourite tea from the range is the Apothecary Rose - it was the first one we blended and tastes very close to the real gin and tonic but without the alcohol. The rose is like Turkish delight and it balances nicely with the juniper and other botanicals.
The best way to enjoy the loose leaf experience/ how to drink loose leaf teas
There is no specific right or wrong way to enjoy loose leaf tea - depending on the situation, it can be perfectly fine to enjoy a big mug of blalck tea or in other instances, you may want to use delicate bone china teaware. For the G&Teas I would suggest drinking out of a thin rimmed cup.
There are some steps you should always take when preparing loose tea - always warm the teapot and cups, make sure you have good quality water, make sure you use the correct amount of leaves, for some teas like green tea water temperature is very important and finally, the infusion time. 3 minutes is ample - less or more the tea may not taste as it was intended.
Enjoying tea is more than just the taste sensation - the visual aspect plays a large part in the overall experience - I know for myself that the same tea served in bone china or in a mug can taste completely different. The setting is also important.
What you recommend to eat with our G&Tea any tea time snack recommendations?
I would recommend drinking the G&Teas during afternoon tea. The perfect accompaniments would be light cakes such as macarons, light sponge, chocolates etc like you would get at a high class afternoon tea service.