Being rather partial to a tearoom, I used to think I really ought to aim to open one of my own.
Then I realised that if I was providing tasty fare to the hungry customer, I wouldn’t be sitting at a table being waited on.
I had already found my tearoom niche: walk in, nosh up, walk out.
Very fortunately for me, not everyone thinks like this.
Blessed are those angels in human form who invest time, energy and money in delightful tearooms into which I can wander when in need of sustenance, and from which I can depart when replete.
If I were such an angel, and wondering how to go about becoming a successful tearoom provider, I might well turn to the English Garden Tea Room company to assist me.
I follow this company on Twitter and they recently very kindly sent me a stack of teas to taste:
I wasn’t expecting this volume or choice, and I was quite astonished when I received the boxes.
Rather fortuitously, my brother and his family came to visit at Easter and when my brother’s partner learned that I’d been sent all this tea and was feeling a bit overwhelmed about tasting it properly, she sprang into action.
She made a cup of each of the eight English Garden teas and labelled the brews with their packaging:
She then brought me, my mum and my brother (who were lounging around chatting) each tea in turn, and recorded our scores out of 10, as well as recording her own. Each tea was tasted black, to keep things on an even keel (ignoring my dear mama’s repeated comments of the ‘I’d like this if it had milk in it’ variety).
Later on, my dad and my sister appeared and also tasted the teas, marking down their scores on the little pieces of paper that had been provided for the purpose:
Before tasting I had my own ideas about which teas I’d like best; my preconceptions were overturned quite spectacularly.
The eight teas were:
Being an enthusiastic consumer of black teas, but rarely venturing into herbal arenas, I assumed that the black teas would be those I’d prefer. I was pretty much convinced that two of my most frequently chosen beverages – Assam and Darjeeling – would top my list of English Garden teas.
Here, however, was the order in which I liked them, with my score out of 10 in brackets:
Earl Grey (9)
Darjeeling (7.5 – I just couldn’t decide on 7 or 8)
English Breakfast (1)
There were many views and comments on each tea and although on some occasions other people completely disagreed with me (rather shocking, since when I taste a tea and make a pronouncement about it I assume I’m right), I was delighted to witness the passion with which each taster spouted their own opinion.
9 was the highest score given for any tea (2 scores of 9 for Camomile), and 0 the lowest (1 score of 0 each for Camomile, Earl Grey and Green).
I didn’t attempt to guess the outcome prior to tasting, but if I had I certainly wouldn’t have put any money on peppermint coming home in a blaze of glory.
This is the order in which they were rated, with a score out of 60 in brackets (6 tasters each scoring out of 10):
Earl Grey (31)
English Breakfast (25)
Tasting tea is all very well (and it is, to my mind, an excellent way to pass a Saturday afternoon), but sooner or later one needs a bit of stodge to balance out all the liquid.
What with it being Easter and all, I had baked a Simnel cake (which, for anyone not in the know, is a fruit cake traditionally decorated with marzipan and with a secret layer of marzipan in the middle of the cake; the marzipan on top is often browned under the grill or with a blow torch):
The making of Simnel cake apparently dates back to Medieval times. The cake is traditionally decorated with 11 balls of marzipan on top, symbolising each of Jesus’s 12 apostles minus the traitor, Judas Iscariot.
I’m a bit late to be wishing anyone a Happy Easter, but I hope that wherever you spent it there were tasty treats involved.