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Tea and Coffee Tasting with Farrer’s
My days are bookended by tea. English Breakfast to start the day and Chamomile to end it. In between the kettle is boiled often and I drink a selection of teas depending on what takes my fancy from the numerous boxes that fill my tea shelf. Only on rarer occasions do I dip into the finer teas that I receive for birthdays, those wonderful brews from specialist shops that elevate tea drinking into the occasion it should be. A pretty teapot, proper china cups, loose leaf tea, family seated around a table, usually a sweetmeat alongside. I wonder why we don’t do it more often. Usually, it comes down to a matter of time.
Nowadays, under lockdown, I have plenty of time, yet I keep reaching for my teabags as a matter of habit. All changed this week when a box arrived at my door from Farrer’s Tea and Coffee Merchants who sent me a marvellous selection to review. It could not have come at a better moment. Any food or beverage treat is received with even more enthusiasm than in normal times. As food procurement has become an obsession, whereas previously it was taken for granted, we need more than ever to preserve the small businesses that have been building up their brands over generations.
Farrer’s, established in 1819, is a family business based in the beautiful English Lake District where John Farrer and Co have been blending the finest teas and artisan roasting exceptional coffee for over 200 years. The list of available teas on their website is a joy to read, including green and white, fruit and flavoured, and for decaf drinkers, one of my best-loved teas, Rooibos. I don’t drink coffee myself, but I have several avid coffeeholics in my household who were as spoilt for choice as I was.
My review box was filled with treasures – Silver Needles, Darjeeling, Oolong and Broken Orange Pekoe as well as coffees for the cafetiere. You can order coffee beans, or ground coffee suitable for stovetop or cafetiere, as well as capsules compatible with a Nespresso machine which are fully recyclable. So no guilt. Farrer’s is a Fairtrade licensee too.
I began tasting the tea selection with a Blood Orange Tisane. I adore blood oranges, and my fridge is filled with this seasonal fruit at the moment. The colour is always a surprise, a deep purple at times, flecked with orange. For those looking for a caffeine-free alternative, Farrer’s have a great selection of tisanes from Apple and Lemon to Nettle. The Blood Orange infusion pairs blood orange peel with hibiscus flowers and rose hips. It is a gentle pink colour and a burst of juicy citrus flavours. Once brewed, the orange peels are delicious to eat too! Perfect to sip in a deck chair in the garden on a warm afternoon as I did – just before an April shower had me rushing indoors. I so enjoyed this tea that I started to think about how to use it in cooking. As it is so fruity, I thought it would make a great addition to the poaching liquid for fruit, pears for example.
Those looking for some caffeine in their brew might like to try the elegance of Silver Needles, one of my favourite white teas. It produces a delicate peach hue and combines the sweetness of melon and cucumber, another perfect tea for and English summer. Yet another beauty is Formosa Oolong, a Taiwanese, semi-oxidised tea that produces a medium-bodied flavour with hints of peach and walnut.
Having such a fabulous selection reminds me of the many afternoon teas I have been fortunate to enjoy in hotels where the best of them have a tea list that sometimes challenges a wine list for length. Now I can enjoy some of these excellent teas in the comfort of my own home.
I appreciated the brewing details on each package, for example, instructing the user to allow a slightly longer brewing time for the large leaf tea as the size of the leaves takes longer to unfurl and release their flavour. This is so much more fulfilling than throwing a bag into a cup. In fact, once one has tasted this standard of tea, one is rather spoilt for life.
Of the large leaf selection, I sampled one of my favourites – Darjeeling, known as the champagne of teas. Farrer’s Darjeeling grows on the Rrungee Rungliot tea farm in the foothills of the Himalayas. It is the high altitude at which it grows that gives it its light, delicate flavour and golden colour.
I was keen to taste the Lakeside blend of tea which requires a three to four-minute brew. I set out my grandmother’s tea set to better mark the moment. Tea brewed, I sipped and savoured. This is a most refreshing drink. I plan to exchange my morning English Breakfast teabag for a teapot with this blend to kickstart the day gently.
The coffee selection was no less enthusiastically set upon by my caffeine lovers. They tried both strong and less potent brews and will now happily set aside the coffee machine to work their way through Farrer’s offerings for the cafetiere. The World Heritage Single Origin coffee hails from Colombia and is roasted by Farrer’s. The description of flavours in a cup of this coffee is deliciously enticing: notes of candyfloss, marzipan, plum and strawberry.
My coffee lovers started the day with a pot of No 1 Blend which has a sunshine acidity with nutty top-notes. All sunshine is welcome in my household. The 1819 blend was next – a commemorative blend of 5 extraordinarily different coffees from sought after regions around the world. I would love to make a coffee ice-cream with this brew which has a heady aroma. After savouring a cup of each from the selection, my tasters were rather buzzy!
Farrer’s website is very informative and even details which preparation process is best suited to each of the many coffees – stovetop, filter, cafetiere or espresso. One can order beans or ready ground. There is free delivery to those living in the local area. Coffee is roasted to order and delivered fresh and aromatic.
We may not be able to visit the Lake District this season, but that is no reason not to enjoy some of the finest products that the area has to offer. Farrer’s has a very prompt delivery service and your tea and coffee needs will be well met by ordering online. We all need a treat to keep our spirits up, and I am putting aside my teabags for now and settling down for a good brew, daily. Once we are travelling again, I hope to visit Farrer’s café, housed in an 18th century, Grade 2 listed building in Kendal, in the heart of the Lake District. I will reward my efforts with a pot of Lakeside tea and a scone. With jam and cream. Now that is something to look forward to. In the meanwhile, their online shop is open so why not treat yourself and have an afternoon tea at home
T: + 44 (0) 1539720020
The lovely people from Farrer’s have offered one lucky London-Unattached reader the same selection of teas and coffees that I’ve been enjoying. Here are the teas and coffees that the winner will be getting – you’d pay nearly £85 for this selection!
|Darjeeling Teabags||Box of 50||£3.65|
|Formosa Oolong Tea||125g Loose Leaf||£4.25|
|Broken Orange Pekoe Tea||250g Loose Leaf||£5.95|
|Silver Needles Tea||125g Loose Leaf||£27.75|
|Blood Orange Infusion||125g Loose Leaf||£4.25|
|No. 1 Blend||250g Ground Coffee||£4.95|
|Westmorland Blend||250g Ground Coffee||£4.95|
|1819 Blend Coffee||250g Ground Coffee||£6.75|
|World Heritage Coffee – Finca El Eden||250g Ground Coffee||£7.95|
|Farrer’s Cup & Saucer||Black branded||£14.00|
Do enter our giveaway for your chance to win – or pop along and order yourself a treat for tea!