That Cup of Comfort Begins with a Seed
Leave it to Disney to make the tea making process magical!
The English Tea Garden is one of three featured tours during the 24th Annual Flower & Garden Festival at Epcot in Orlando. Other featured tours include the EPCOT® Gardens of the World and the Behind the Seeds Tour. (Yes, I’ve taken all three tours!)
Honestly, I felt a bit like Alice in Wonderland as I took in the beauty of the English gardens and was awed by all the interesting information. It was made more interesting because our tour guide was lovely young lady from England who is seven months into her year-long work study with Disney. Until she started working at Epcot, she had never tried herbal tea or pumpkin spice. Who knew those were so uniquely American?
I had no idea how interesting tea can be! Below are four of the most fascinating facts that I learned while walking through the English tea garden plus a fifth fact that I gleaned online:
- Herbal teas are not “real teas.” To be considered a true “tea,” leaves must come from the tea plant known as camellia sinensis. Oolong, white, green and black are considered true teas, but rooibos and herbal teas do not contain leaves from the tea plant.
- Pumpkin Spice Chai is unique to the United States. Twinings only produces Pumpkin Spice Chai for the U.S. market. Interestingly enough, herbal teas caught here before traditional green tea or traditional black tea.
- Tea can burn. Water temperature is critical to bring out the best qualities of green and herbal teas. If the water is too hot, the tea will be too bitter
and much of its delicate aroma will be lost; if the water temperature is too cool, the full flavor contained in the leaves will not be extracted. For best results, let boiling water stand in a cup for 2-3 minutes before adding the green or herbal tea. Then let it steep for another 2-3 minutes, according to your taste. Many flavor nuances can be discovered by adjusting steeping time, so sip every 30 seconds or so to perfect your brew. NOTE: Black teas should be steeped for 3 to 5 minutes.
- Tea is a natural deodorizer. Tea absorbs fragrances and odors around it. If your tea tastes like coffee, chances are that you’re storing it too close to the coffee beans or grounds. This same property makes tea a natural deodorizer. (After learning this nugget of information, I should stuff my son’s basketball shoes with mint tea bags!)
- Tea bags were invented by accident. American Thomas Sullivan he sent tea samples in small silk pouches to customers in 1904. They did not know to empty the contents into the pot and added everything including the silk container. Click here
for more fun tea facts.
NOTE: There was no cost to this tour and we were treated to a complimentary glass of Iced Mint Tea at the conclusion. The English Tea Garden Tour at Epcot was perfect for someone like me who’s interested in food and beverages, gardening and history.
Steeped in History Nations have defined themselves by the tea trade and culturally by their tea ceremonies. The first cup of comfort was sipped approximately 5,000 years ago in Ancient China, and by the end of the third century tea had become China’s national drink.
Early explorers traded tea in ports across the world. The Arabs had dominated the tea trade in China and the West until the Dutch set up their first trading port in Java and began shipping tea to Amsterdam. English merchants were quick to set up a company to rival the Dutch once Queen Catherine championed tea in her home country.
At that time, Thomas Twining (pronounced Twine-ing) was learning the tea trade by working for a wealthy merchant and handling some of the early tea shipments. He learned quickly and by 1706, at the age of 26, Twining purchased Tom’s Coffee House in London. Coffee houses are where men (never women) gathered to drink, gossip and conduct business. Twining differentiated his establishment by offering tea, as well as coffee.
Because of shipping involved and an 118 percent tax rate, only the elite could afford tea. It took another 100 years before tea parties became fashionable, and the 7th Dutchess of Bedford was credited for creating “afternoon tea.” Three hundred years after its origins, more than 200 Twinings Teas are sold in 100 countries.
Our guide for the Twinings Tea Tour encouraged us to try to iced berry tea for a refreshing summertime brew. (Get recipe ideas here like Blueberry Vanilla Float Iced Tea). A recipe for Twinings Green Tea Berry Mint Julep was available from the Berry Basket, one of the new outdoor kitchens featured during the 24th Annual Flower & Garden Festival underway until May 31 at Epcot. With the Run for the Roses coming up this Saturday, this recipe is most fitting.
Twinings® Green Tea Berry Mint Julep
· 5 oz. boiling water
· 1 Twinings Green Tea bag
· 1 oz. Blackerry Puree
· 1.5 oz. Raspberry Syrup
· 0.5 oz. Mint Infused Simple Syrup
· 0.5 oz. Lime juice
- Boil fresh water and let cool for 1 minutes.
- Pour 5 oz. into heat-proof container.
- Remove tea bag from envelop and steep in hot water for 2 to 3 minutes
- Discard tea bag and chill tea.
- Combine all the remaining ingredients in a shaker.
- Shake and strain over ice.
- Garnish with fresh berries and mint.
NOTE: You can make a frozen version by blending all ingredients with ice until it reaches desired consistency. You can make an “adult version” by adding 1.25 ounces of Kentucky Bourbon.