black&white #14: London Coffee Festival and our new special edition teas
3 min steep
Yes, our new special edition teas have finally arrived. But first, an update on what our trade team’s been up to. Last week we spent four fantastic days at the London Coffee Festival – brewing, tasting and learning, catching up with old trade pals and meeting fellow food and drink nerds who share our passion for quality, sourcing and flavour (even if we occasionally disagree about the superiority of one hot drink over another). We were sharing a stand with the fabulous team from Marco Beverage Systems, using their innovative FRIIA tap (temperature– and volume-controlled hot, cold and sparkling water) to brew refreshing Matcha and Elderflower Coolers and a sensational Phoenix Honey Orchid oolong. Even the die-hard coffee fans were impressed.
01 | Sparkling Matcha Cooler made with the Marco FRIIA
It was also a great excuse to catch up (over a cup of something delicious) with some of our trade partners in the coffee business, like Origin, Kiss the Hippo, Clifton, Colonna, Rosslyn and Foundation. And though tea’s our bag, these lot are producing some of the smoothest, most delicious cups of coffee we’ve ever tasted. Like us, these independent outfits are offering an alternative to the megacorps and their all-too-often unecological and unethical production methods and supply chains. They source speciality beans from small-scale farms and cooperatives, working with producers who grow coffee sustainably and ethically, and paying them a fair price in return. With both tea and coffee, it’s always worth buying the very best quality you can afford.
But now to our new teas. After months of tasting, debating and preparation, we can finally reveal our four special edition teas that we think are truly unique – and unlike anything many of us at Canton have ever tasted before.
We’ve tasted a lot of First Flush Darjeelings in our time (often called the champagne of tea) and this one really stood out from the crowd. It has all of the classic floral, mineral notes you’d expect with some really killer notes of pistachio, rhubarb and spice. It also comes from the world-renowned Selimbong Tea Garden in the Rongbong Valley, which is certified organic, fairtrade and in biodynamic farming techniques.
02 | Tea Picker at the Selimbong Tea Garden
Yunnan produces – to my mind – some of the most delicious black teas in the world and this is a particularly unusual example of one. The top buds of the tea bush are handrolled into tight curls. The curls are covered in a delicate fuzz of hair which turn gold when the tea oxidises – which is why the tea is also known as Golden Snail. Caramel-rich and silky-smooth, it has notes of sugarcane, milk chocolate and brazil nuts.
03 | Rice Paddy in Yunnan Province, China
One of our all-time favourite oolongs, this is a particularly special competition grade (i.e. the best the garden has to offer) tea from the famous Ali Shan mountain in Taiwan. We visited Epin Farm and the Chiu family back in 2016, seeing firsthand the craftsmanship and masterful skill that goes into producing a tea of this calibre – plus the unique terroir of the region. Every afternoon a mist descends on the mountainside, ensuring the tea leaves grow slowly and develop a gorgeously intense flavour. It’s a floral and fruity masterpiece.
04 | Tea Picker harvesting leaves on Ali Shan mountain, Taiwan
Producing some of the best artisanal teas in Japan, Canton Kabuse Sencha is one the Obubu tea garden’s highest grade teas. The Sencha tea bushes are shaded two weeks before harvest to reduce the natural light that reaches the leaves – meaning the plant produces more chlorophyll and enriches the leaves with a more complex flavour and colour. More umami, less bitterness and dark emerald green colour. It’s verdant, vegetal and has a beautifully full-bodied mouthfeel.
05 | Matsu, a founder of the Obubu Tea Gardens who produce Canton Kabuse Sencha and Canton Genmaicha
These four spectacular teas will be live on our website next week.