THE RARE TEA COMPANY: A RARE TREAT ON FRIDAY
It's a wonderfully restorative drink, your cup of tea, which made my e-mail invitation to join Henrietta Lovell, owner of The Rare Tea Company on Friday all the more welcome. I had spent the previous night (and a good chunk of the morning) drinking my own body weight in well made cocktails at Hawksmoor and Lounge Bohemia (where we saw Miranda Sawyer getting asked to leave for putting her size 10’s on the lovely furniture. Quite right too) and was feeling a little the worse for wear.
Henrietta started the company in 2004 after a lucrative but unfulfilling career in printing and used her many contacts in Asia to begin importing, as the name of her company suggests, small production teas from unusual farms in China, India and Africa.
After a relatively slow start, focussing mainly on online sales, her teas are now used in quite a few of London's restaurants, including Chez Bruce and soon are to be carried by Waitrose. All of this is worthy enough, but there are lots of companies importing lots of interesting teas into the U.K these days. It’s Henrietta's extraordinary enthusiasm, bordering on the obsessive as well as the quality of her teas, which marks her out for special comment.
The invitation came after she saw my post about making chocolate with Paul. A Young, who also uses her tea and I turned up at her smart North London flat, from where she still runs her business, looking forward to something warming to settle my stomach and take away the chill from the rain sodden morning. She did not let me or my companion down and we were soon working our way through her range from white silver tips from Malawi to hand made black leaf tea from Meghalaya, India finishing with Bai Mudan a whole leaf China tea to cleanse the palate.
For Henrietta though tea is not just for drinking and, after we had finished the tasting, we spent a good hour talking about other food uses for tea including the smoking meat or fish and making of green tea ice cream. Particularly, however, being a woman after my own heart, she enthused how her teas could be used in cocktails and yesterday afternoon, she e-mailed me the splendid recipe for an Oolong Mojito below.
Definitely worth a try as indeed are her splendid teas
. 2 measures of your favourite rum
. Juice of 1/2 lime
. 2 tsp unrefined sugar
. 2-4 sprigs of fresh mint- (just the tips not the bigger leaves.)
. 1 cup of Oolong left to cool (very important so the mint leaves don't "cook")
First "wash the leaves" by pouring hot water over them and then quickly
discarding the water. This will soften the leaves and allow them to infuse
Use 1 dessert spoon of oolong to 1 tea cup of hot water and infused for one
minute (not a small pinch of tea left to infuse for several minutes). Leave
Muddle the sugar and mint leaves together in a cocktail shaker. Add the tea
and stir until the sugar dissolves. Squeeze in the lime, add the rum and
shake with ice. Strain into a cocktails glass.