The Best in Show Glorious sunshine, wedding celebrations, holidays and time with friends and family meant August flew by. Then it was all hands to the deck, making final preparations for our stand at Bucks County Show. The tradition of a County Show date back over 250 years in the UK. The first event was held in Lancashire, by the Salford Agricultural Society. It is an opportunity for the rural, agricultural community to meet and showcase their livestock, farming skills and produce. Spectators enjoy a taste of the countryside, entertaining displays and a connection with nature. Tea Tasting at Bucks County Show Thursday 1 September marked Buckinghamshire’s 153 rd county show. In addition to the tractors, dog shows, BMX rider displays and farm animals, were a selection of local stallholders, including Holy Cow. On this occasion, we decided to focus on tea tasting and sales. Autumn seemed to arrive overnight, so tea proved to be a wise decision. A dip in the temperature gave added appeal to tea tasting and it was wonderful to welcome lots of people to our stall. Thank you to everyone who came over for a chat, both visitors and stallholders, you made our day! All flavours of tea were sampled throughout the day, including our Chic Lady Grey, which received a Great Taste Award Star in the summer! By far the most popular tea was Spiced Masala Chai; our best in show! Delicious and instantly warming, it is a wonderful drink for Autumn and Winter. Our bespoke Chai is a blend of loose leaf, black Assam tea with cinnamon, ginger, aniseed, cardamom, cloves and red peppercorns, with safflower and sunflower petals. It’s always a big hit. Original county shows are likely to have had a tea and cake stall, along with a baking competition, but not Indian spiced tea, Jasmine infusions or Chinese green tea. It’s great that these events have evolved to fully represent the local community. As with our tea, there is the perfect blend of tradition with a modern twist. We’re on the Hunt for Events The buzz and interaction of events are something we relish, so we’re on the lookout for new opportunities in 2023. Are you hosting a food & drink or gift event? As a fellow stallholder, what events would you recommend? We know plenty is happening in Buckinghamshire and beyond, so where should we go next? Talking of events, the Holy Cow Community team is now busy finalising the details for the Aylesbury Festival of Lights on Sunday 30 October 22. You are invited to join this community celebration, which promises music, dance and an early evening lantern parade. The event will take place in the gardens of the Discover Bucks Museum. Have you visited the Discover Bucks Museum? Aylesbury’s Discover Bucks Museum has been refurbished, have you visited it? If so, you may have spotted me, Poonam, in the collection of black and white images, showing the faces of Buckinghamshire through time. As an organiser of the Festival of Lights community event and a local business owner, I was delighted to be part of this project. The new displays focus not simply on displaying artefacts but on highlighting their connection with the people and places that form our community. From mammoth teeth excavated from College Lake and Roman busts discovered in Stoke Mandeville, to the birds and butterflies that can be spotted in our gardens, there is plenty to see. Whilst there, why not enjoy the museum café? They are one of the latest stockists of Holy Cow tea, so you can enjoy a premium cuppa! Get in touch with me, Poonam, if your café, restaurant or shop is interested in stocking Holy Cow Teas. Equally let me know about those upcoming events!
Every year, thousands of food and drink products are entered into the Great Taste Awards. This year our Chic Lady Grey tea was one of them. We are proud to announce that our loose leaf, premium blend was awarded a star! Taste Award Judging For the last 28 years, a panel of food experts, including critics, chefs, writers and restauranteurs gather to sample products that are commercially available in the UK. To ensure no bias is made in terms of elaborate packaging or familiar brands, this is a blind tasting process. The outcome is determined entirely by taste. The majority of entries do not qualify for a prestigious star, which is recognised as a stamp of excellence amongst retailers, food buyers and consumers. One star is presented to around 25% of entries, with a smaller number being awarded two or three stars. Our Chic Lady Grey Tea The judges awarded our Chic Lady Grey a one star and commented that it is “a fresh, lively and crisp infusion with high citrus notes. Astringency is marked, but the balance of flavours in the tea works well”. This tea can now be sold with the black and gold Great Taste Award sticker. It is part of our business plan to increase the supply of tea to retailers, restaurants and cafes and we believe this accreditation will help us to convince buyers that we have a high-quality range of teas. Read more about the Taste Awards and Lady Grey Tea in the Holy Cow Home blog.
Tea is the national drink of China and it is offered in a rainbow of colours. Green tea is widely enjoyed, with Yellow, White, Oolong, Black and Dark (fermented) teas extending the colour spectrum. In the UK, black tea is favoured and very little is known about Oolong and White teas. Let’s discover some of the traditions, processes and flavour pairings that surround these Chinese favourites. What is Oolong Tea? Believed to have originated in the Beiyuan Tea Gardens, Oolong tea grows in mountainous terrain. It thrives in Taiwan and China’s Fujian and Guangdong Provinces. Oolong sits between black and green teas in both flavour and aromatic qualities. When picked, leaves are withered before being partially oxidised in the sun. This can be as little as 15% or as much as 85% of the oxidisation used to process black tea. Lower oxidation results in a light, floral taste, whilst fuller body and fruity or nutty flavours are achieved through higher oxidation. The leaves are traditionally processed over charcoal or wood and the long leaves are bruised, rolled and compressed to form loose leaf tea. Oolong tea cannot be confined to a teabag. When steeped in water, the long leaves need space to unfurl and release their flavour. Once open, the leaves can be brewed several times, so one spoonful can produce multiple cups of tea. This is good news, as in China, Oolong is said to aid weight loss and enhance natural beauty! The distinctive flavour of Oolong teas makes them a perfect pairing for smoked meats, cheeses and seafood. For dessert, they compliment fruity puddings and chocolate. Oolong and the Gong Fu Cha Chinese Tea Ceremony Traditionally, Oolong tea is associated with the Gong Fu Cha Chinese tea ceremony. Developed in the Qing Dynasty, this is a mindful process; the careful preparation of the drink is the only point of focus. A dedicated Oolong teapot is used, as this ensures that the flavours are not contaminated by other teas. Poured into small cups, the tea is sipped and slurped. This may seem like bad manners, however, it aerates the tea, releasing the full complexity of delicate flavours. Tea Recommendations: What Oolong should I Try? Holy Cow Home currently stocks two Oolong Teas. Our Wuyi Oolong has an earthy, slightly smoked flavour, which might appeal if you enjoy Lapsang souchong and Assam. Milk Oolong has a sweet and creamy flavour. This is one of my favourites and it is generally more palatable to western tastebuds. What is White Tea? White tea is picked in early spring when the youngest, freshest buds have yet to open into leaves. They are quickly dried, with minimal oxidisation and processing. The fact that they are not bruised, crushed or rolled results in a delicately flavoured tea. In Chinese traditions, loose leaf white tea was known as Imperial tea. This is because it was presented to the Emperors as an annual gift; much like a form of tax. Silver Needle (Bai Hao Yin Zhen), is considered the purest type of loose-leaf white tea. This is grown exclusively in the Fuijan Province of China. Another leading variety is White Peony, also known as Pai Mu Dan. White tea is designed to be sipped and savoured like a fine wine, not gulped as a thirst-quenching drink. It can take a few tastings to get used to the subtle taste. Then you may detect the floral, herby base with sweet honey and peach tones. Due to its light flavour, white tea is easily overpowered by many foods. It works well as a palate-cleansing pre-meal drink. In terms of food pairings, try it with white fish or that afternoon tea classic, the cucumber sandwich. White and Oolong Tea Tasting Are you intrigued to try Premium Oolong and White teas? These exclusive varieties are expensive options. For this reason, you may like the opportunity to try before you buy. We offer tea tasting experiences at events throughout the year. Follow us on Facebook or sign up to receive our newsletter and be the first to hear about our tea tastings.
Britain is a tea-drinking nation, with 96% of the population opting for tea bags, but is it time to switch to loose leaf tea? Tea Bags: Convenience and Price There is no doubt that tea bags are low cost. In the supermarket, you can buy a pack of 80 own-brand tea bags for around £1.00. They are also quick to brew and convenient to use. It is no wonder that they are a popular choice. In contrast, it can be difficult to find a loose leaf tea stockist and you pay considerably more for a packet. In addition, the process of brewing the tea is more complex; you need tea accessories, such as infusers or strainers to make your cuppa. So, why do we choose to be a loose leaf tea supplier? Loose Leaf tea; Quality and Sustainability For us, nothing beats the aromas and flavours that are delivered by premium loose leaf tea. To understand the difference, it is important to know how tea is produced. Tea Production All tea originates from the fresh, new leaves and buds of the Camellia sinensis plant, which are picked at optimum times in the season. For black tea, these leaves are dried, oxidised and rolled in carefully controlled processes, designed to enhance the flavour. Premium tea comes from the whole or broken leaves. These hold the flavour until they are infused in boiling water, creating a fresh and delicious drink with a distinctive taste. Our loose leaf tea range is made with whole or broken leaves. In the process, some particles are too small to be classed as broken leaves; they are classified as fannings. Fannings are lower cost to buy and are sold as loose tea or are used in more expensive tea bags. With a large surface area, these particles brew more quickly than full leaves. When the fannings are collected, the residue is tea dust. This is not wasted. Tea dust is swept up and sold – this is what you find when you open up any mass-produced teabag. Yes, it is the taste that we are familiar with, but we know that our tastebuds deserve better than that. The Traceability of Tea At Holy Cow Tea, we value traceability. We only want to buy from producers that provide fair working conditions and pay and are mindful of the local environment. Whilst enjoying a cuppa, we want to know that it isn’t at the expense of workers or habitats in tea-producing countries. Traceability is possible when sourcing whole leaf and broken leaf tea. It is more difficult with fannings and dust. The reason is, they are bought in bulk from multiple producers and mixed together. This approach also means missing out on the unique flavours that come from single-origin teas. Brewing the Perfect Cup of Tea We all prefer our tea to be served in a certain way. In Britain, it is usual to add milk, but in Europe, a squeeze of lemon is preferred. In much of Asia just the tea, steeped in water is enjoyed. Some herbal infusions and green teas are sweetened with sugar; Moroccan Mint being a prime example. Whether you like a weak tea or a strong ‘builders’ brew the leaves need time to steep in the boiling water to bring out the flavour. With dust, the process is quick; it is one of the reasons that make tea bags convenient. With leaf tea, it takes several minutes for the colour and flavour to steep in the water and transform it into a perfect cuppa. Although a little more time-consuming, we relish this process. It allows a few moments to switch off from the usual routine, unwind and gather your thoughts. In Japanese, Chinese and Russian tea ceremonies, the time it takes to prepare and share tea is as important as the drink. Even the British tradition of Afternoon Tea, we never skipped on the preparation of the teapot, the brewing time and the pouring from height to aerate the drink. In a world where everything seems to be a rush, why not favour the time taken to prepare a proper cup of tea over the convenience of a teabag? Tea in Plastic-free Packaging The final point in favour of loose leaf tea is that the vast majority of teabags contain plastic. They are not biodegradable and when you think about how much tea we drink that is a problem. Our loose leaf tea packaging is 100% compostable or recyclable. Our tea accessories include caddies, which are ideal for storing your favourite blend. Loose Leaf or Tea Bags in Summary Hopefully, this article has enlightened you as to why mass-produced tea bags are cheaper and more convenient. We also hope you understand why we favour the quality, flavour, longer brewing time traceability and sustainability of premium loose leaf teas.
The majority of us will have enjoyed a cup of tea today, but have we stopped to think about where tea comes from? Did you know that all tea originates from one plant; Camellia sinensis. All black and green teas are related, what differentiates them is: The variety of this speciesThe environment in which the plant grows When it is pickedHow it is processedThe grade of tea The UK is full of tea drinkers, however, our climate is not ideal for growing this plant. A recent enterprise means tea is now being grown in Scotland, but it is early days. We remain largely reliant on growers in India, China, Sri Lanka, Kenya and Japan to maintain our supplies. The mountainous regions of these countries provide the light, acidic, free-draining soils and moist, tropical climates that result in a reliable crop. Tea Varieties We all have a favourite brew, but according to the UK Tea and Infusions Association, there are around 1,500 varieties. Are we right to stick with what we know, or is it time to be a little more adventurous? English Breakfast is a popular choice, with Assam, Darjeeling, Earl Grey and Green tea being familiar alternatives. Through our articles and tea tasting experiences, we may help you to discover new favourites. Tea Oxidation After picking, the leaves are oxidised – minimal for green tea, partial oxidation for white and Oolong tea and full oxidation for black tea. The oxidation process creates a deeper, rich flavour, but also reduced the concentration of naturally-occurring antioxidants. Globally, black tea is the most popular for taste, whilst green tea has greater health benefits. Which do you prefer? The Origins of the word ‘Tea’ China was the first nation to cultivate Camellia sinensis, the tea plant. The green, unprocessed leaves have a bitter taste and the drink was named ‘tu’ meaning bitter vegetable. In Mandarin, ‘cha’ is the word for tea. The story is that when the scholar Lu Yu wrote Cha Jing (The Classic of Tea) in 760BC, he missed a cross stroke from the character ‘tu’. This created the word ‘cha’. In India, most dialects use a variation of ‘cha’ (often the Hindi word ‘chai’), following the Mandarin pronunciation which carried from China’s Yunnan province, via Persia (where it was altered to ‘chay’), to India! Chai is used across India to this day. In Britain, we say tea. This goes back to the Fujian province of China, where the local dialect meant that the ‘tu’ symbol was pronounced ‘te’. When the Dutch started shipping tea from China to Europe, this was the word used. Orthodox Tea and CTC Tea If you are interested in learning more about tea, you may come across the phrases ‘orthodox tea’ and ‘CTC tea’, but what does this mean? Orthodox tea is picked and rolled by hand following the century’s old tea traditions. These extract the full flavour of the tea. CTC – Crush, Tear, Curl, is a faster method of tea production, where specialist tea processing machines undertake much of the work. We are an orthodox tea supplier. Whether CTC or broken orthodox tea, the process of breaking the leaves increases the surface area that will be exposed to the hot water during the brewing process. This, along with rolling or curling the leaves helps to maximise the release of the flavours. We favour orthodox teas, for several reasons. Firstly, they are the highest quality option. The traditional processes also provide work for rural communities in tea-growing regions. It is important to us that we are an ethical tea supplier, so we value traceability. We source from plantations that provide fair working conditions, pay and sustainable practices. Loose Leaf Teas Our selection of loose leaf teas contains whole or broken tea leaves. They are categorised into straight teas and tea blends. Straight teas are pure leaves, sourced from a specific region and include our Assam, Darjeeling and Sencha. Our speciality tea blends are a recipe of straight teas, combined with other teas, herbs, spices and edible flowers. If you are new to loose leaf, you will need a tea strainer to prevent the leaves from ending up in your teacup. If you are unsure about which flavours will appeal to your tastebuds, keep an eye out for our tea-tasting sessions and tea experiences. Our smallest bags contain 50g of quality loose leaf tea, which would you like to try?