black&white #17: Canton collaborations: scents, spirits and face creams
4 min steep
For years we’ve declaimed on the versatility of tea and from the beginning, we’ve enjoyed collaborations with other brands to prove it. At some point in our history, you could find Canton tea in creams, perfumes, cocktails, ice-creams, chocolate, ales, spirits and ham (we’ll explain later) because tea is so much more than a drink. It’s packed full of antioxidants and other health-giving properties, which means it’s always been a hit in the beauty and wellness sector. It’s fragrant, complex and sometimes pungent, which makes it perfect for perfumes, scents and candles. And, of course the rich flavour profiles means it's been baked into cakes, added to marinades, smoked under fish, blended into cocktails and even used to cure meat.
This is nothing new. East Asian cultures have been using tea to flavour other foods for centuries. The ancient Chinese stuffed fish with dried, pungent oolong tea leaves before steaming and boiled cracked-shell eggs in tea to create tea-marbled eggs – a delicious snack that’s still eaten today. In contemporary Chinese cuisine, tea is frequently used to smoke poultry and in Hangzhou in southern China, a speciality is prawns stir-fried with fresh Dragon Well, green tea leaves.
So, what brands have we teamed up with over the years? One well known association was with Jo Malone (owned by Estee Lauder by then) who used Canton to help launch their Rare Tea Collection, the most exclusive (read expensive) perfumes in their range. A small team from Canton were taken on the UK tour to give their VVIPs the background story to each tea. First taste a rare tea (e.g. Silver Needle, Big Red Robe, Yunnan Black) then inhale the Jo Malone perfume. Lovely though the scents were, I always preferred the real thing, a dab of the aromatic fresh tea behind my ear, on my wrist . . .
01 | Jo Malone Rare Tea Cologne Collection. Harpers Bazar ©.
Still in the beauty ballpark, Origins (also part of the Estee Lauder group) used Canton Silver Needle to promote an antioxidant-rich, premium face cream made with the tea’s extract. But closer to our milieu and into the realm of food, Skye Gyngell, the acclaimed Australian chef who earned Petersham Nurseries a Michelin star, also saw the potential of Canton tea. Inspired by Chinese cuisine, she used our signature Earl Grey to infuse prunes and smoke duck – and oh yes, it was superb. That's not the only time Canton’s been used to flavour meat. Emmett’s Store, the oldest artisan ham producer in the UK, is using Canton Rosebuds to cure and infuse one of their famous Suffolk hams. Genius.
But by far, the most popular partner of Canton has been booze. In particular, beer and gin, as the floral, aromatic flavours of our tea work pretty well. We’ve had a recent collaboration with the brilliant Bristol-based brewery Wiper and True. ‘Tea & Biscuits’ is a limited edition amber ale brewed with a bespoke Canton Earl Grey that we created just for them. We also teamed up with Psychopomp Microdistillery to create Canton Gin, a small-batch craft distilled gin that uses Canton Silver Needle and Honey Orchid as botanicals. It’s a bright, floral juniper forward gin – and it’s very good. We’ve also worked with Circumstance Distillery to create a bourbon infused Big Red Robe oolong which we suspended in an aged Jim Beam barrel. And as well as many other breweries, we’ve teamed up with Bristol’s inimitable Moor Beers on a number of occasions to create some memorable ales - and names: Canton x Moor Beer x Look Mum No Hands 'Rider's Revival': Limited release IPA brewed with Canton Jasmine Pearls. LMNH are an iconic cafe/bar/cycle workshop and it was brewed in celebration of the Tour de France. Prize for the most out there goes to Canton x Moor Beer x Berri Txarrak 'Do it Together': Limited edition pale ale brewed with our Mango Noir. Berri Txarrack are a rock band from the Basque Country. Sounds random but they are mates with the owner of Moor Beer and that’s what makes a great collab.
02 | Riders Revival from Moor Brewery & Canton Tea. Look Mum No Hands ©.
Tea really is brilliant in pretty much anything. If you’d like to speak to us about a potential collab, we’re always open to new ideas. Drop us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org.