Tea – Who Knew?

One of the interesting things about the World Showcase is experiencing the different cultures in language, food, architecture and shopping found around the lagoon.  Among these is the Twinings Tea Company which has a Tea Caddy in the United Kingdom land in EPCOT, complete with a garden of tea shrubs, herbs and spices.  During the International Flower & Garden Festival,

English Tea Caddy & Tea Garden

they are hosting daily tours through their tea garden.  In this short, informative tour, guides retell the history of the Twinings Tea Company from its foundings in 1706 to present day.  Its continuous operation makes Twinings the oldest business still in operation in London and being in business over 300 years obviously makes them experts in their field.  Look closely at their packaging.  You will notice a crown – this represents the fact that they are the official tea of the English Royalty – a tribute to their expertise and longevity.

While the average consumer has their favorite tea brand and/or flavor, and even whether they prefer it hot or iced, sweet or plain, most of us know very little about this little leaf that brews the second most popular drink around the world.  Tea is second only to water, but that is a little boring!

All true teas come from the same plant:  The Camellia Sinensis.  Only the top two leaves of a stem, plus the bud are used by Twinings.  Using leaves farther down the stem creates a tea with more bitterness.  Twinings purchases leaves from 11,000 tea plantations around the world, and all must comply with their exacting standards.

Guides Ben and Nicola

How the leaves are treated will determine the main flavor profile.  The leaves that are allowed to fully oxidize become “black tea;” leaves that are allowed to partially oxidize become “oolong;” and leaves that are not allowed to oxidize become “green” tea.  White tea comes from the leaf buds.  Flavored teas are just that.  They are infused by either blending certain other plants, fruits, herbs and spices, or simply allowed to absorb the aroma such as a Jasmine infused tea.  Tea leaves will absorb the aromas around them and can become infused with those in your spice cabinet if your tea is not in a sealed container.  You can even put tea bags in your shoes to control odor!

Herbal teas are not true teas, but lacking a better name they are simply referred to as a “tea,” unlike differentiating between “champagne” and “sparkling wine.”

So no matter how you like your tea, you are sure to find something to suit your taste.  Twinings makes over 400 varieties and many can be found in your local store that sells tea.  But you won’t find all 400.  Twinings makes flavors that are suited for the tastes of different regions around the world.  If you would like a free tour of the tea garden at EPCOT, check with the Twinings Tea Caddy for times and experience something new.

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