We like a good cup of tea here at Ladies what. Between us, we get through a fair portion of the 165 million cups drank each day in the UK. However, we didn’t actually know much about all of the different types of teas and the differences between them, so when LivingSocial had a deal on a tea tasting session, we decided to take the opportunity to expand our tea-related knowledge.
ATTIC tea (short for ‘All The Tea In China’) is based in Bristol. Their tea bar, located on Coldharbour Road, consists of a retail shop, where you can buy all of their pure teas, blends and tea accessories, and a small area where you can take part in guided tastings. You can also buy all of their products via their website.
The store specialises in Chinese tea. Much of the standard tea we drinkÂ in the UK originates from India.Â All Chinese tea comes from one plant – Camellia SinensisÂ – and the different varieties depend on how the leaves have been processed.
Our tasting session
You taste five different types of tea in your session. You start with white, which is the lightest and work through to Pu’erh which is a caffeine-free tea less commonly drank in Britain.
Each tea is brewed in a special pot – once it is ready, you place the pot over your cup and the tea flows from the bottom. This means the leaves can flow freely in the liquid whilst brewing, but you don’t need a strainer. You also use a timer to make sure that each variety is brewed for the optimum time. There are also bowls of the dry leaves on the table to allow you to compare with the finished product. We tried the following five teas:
White White tea is made using the youngest buds of the plants. It is an extremely light tea that is traditionally drunk in the morning.
Green Green tea is produced by either steaming the tea (the method favoured by the Japanese) or by dry-cooking in a wok-style pan (the Chinese method). As it is processed quickly, there is less caffeine in it than other varieties.
Oolong Oolong is semi-oxidised and sits halfway between green tea and black tea. It is hand-rolled into little balls that uncurls when you place them in water. It is supposed to be very good for your digestion and is said to aid weight loss.
Black tea This is type of tea we are all perhaps most familiar with. Black tea is said to be an anti-inflammatory and helps to reduce stress.
Pu’erh This tea is fermented in underground rooms, giving it an earthy taste. It improves with age, with some vintages being very valuable.Â It is best drank before bedtime and is thought to alleviate hangovers and help with weight loss.
What we thought
The main thing that struck both of us during the tasting was how different each type tasted compared to what we were used to. The green tea was especially different – I have always found it to be quite bitter when drinking it from a bag. The tea in bags is chopped very finely so it brews quicker. Also, you only need to brew green tea for three minutes. So a combination of these two things is probably why I’ve disliked green tea in the past but really enjoyed it here.
The black tea was also very different – a lot lighter than ‘normal’ tea and again, less bitter. I really enjoyed the oolong and Puerh, so picked up a couple of bags of blended teas that used these as a base.
The other thing we noted was that it is traditional to drink lighter teas (such as white) in the morning to refresh yourself, and work towards the darker teas during the day, with black used as late afternoon pick-me-up. This is the opposite how how we both drink tea usually, with black drunk first to wake us up and moving to lighter. lower-caffeine teas during the day. It’ll be interesting to try it the other way around and see what happens!
We really enjoyed our tea-tasting session and learnt a lot. If you can’t make it to Bristol to do a session yourself, you can order a tea-tasting kit off the ATTIC website which contains samples of all five of the teas, a ATTIC tea maker, tea glass and full tasting notes.