In Britain we drink 165 million cups of tea a day, roughly enough to fill about 20 Olympic swimming pools. The average Brit drinks 876 cups of tea every single year –enough to fill two bathtubs. The vast majority of cuppas are made from teabags, which were invented in the United States in the early 20th century, but certain very special loose leaf teas are grown here in the UK. In fact, the very first English company to create a range of teas grown on our home soil is found at the Tregothnan Estate – a Cornish estate with a rich history dating back to 1334. Tregothnan, which is located on the Roseland Peninsula, has a subtropical microclimate which allows the tea plant (camellia sinensis) to thrive.
We spoke with Bella Percy Hughes, marketing manager at Tregothnan, to discuss the history of Tregothnan, its dedication to sustainability, and the perfect brewing methods.
“There are very few tea companies that can say they have nearly seven hundred years of botanical heritage! The estate was first formed in 1334 and has been the home of the Boscawen family, which has produced generations of collectors and horticulturalists, ever since. Over hundreds of years new and rare species arrived from long sea voyages to the port at Falmouth and came straight to the garden for cultivation – many of the plants that now grow abundantly across the UK first came through Tregothnan.”
“Loose leaf – the larger the cut, the more flavour you get from the leaf.”
“Tea – you can’t know what the colour will be like otherwise! Milk historically was only added to disguise the flavour of bad teas that had been mixed with horrible things to make it go further. With great quality teas you should be able to drink them black.”
“None! A really good quality leaf will have a natural sweetness and no bitterness, negating the need for sugar.”
“Depends on the type of tea! But the broth should be clear with no murkiness.”
“It depends on which tea you’re making and everyone has a personal preference. We recommend 3-4 minutes for a good deep black tea – people on average only allow their tea to brew for 22 seconds!”
“Black teas should be brewed just off the boil at around 95 degrees.”
“Yes, but that’s probably more of a psychological thing! Ideally a bone china mug should be used. The bone china keeps the tea at the optimum temperature without tainting the flavour.”
“Yes, but there are lots of different varieties of the species and we blend our tea to create the range of flavours we offer. Green tea is also from the same plant – it is just processed differently!”
“If it’s plucking season (usually April to October) then they are flat out going through the drying process! A lot of tea comes in in one go and it’s a race to get it dried before it starts to ferment. Then of course we need to decide which blends we’re making, and each batch needs to be taste-tested to make sure it’s consistent with the previous batches.”
“From bush to cup the whole process takes around 36 hours. The leaves are plucked, withered (heated slightly to become more malleable) and then rolled. The rolling process bruises the leaves which allows the oils to run through and start to turn them black. After this oxidisation process has begun the leaves can be dried.”
“The garden has a ‘safe site’ status, which means that all the plants are planted for preservation and conservation reasons. We also have a very hard-working woods team who use a coppice management system to care for the woodlands surrounding the estate.”
“Our best-seller is the first one we ever made – the Classic tea. My personal favourite is our Afternoon Tea, which has a Darjeeling base so it’s very light but aromatic and delicious.”
Have we got you in the mood for another cuppa? If you’re longing for a new mug to sip your favourite brew from, we have a colourful collection of fine china mugs that make tea time just that little bit more special. Go on, pop the kettle on!