My parents have just come back from Madeira, where they stayed at the Savoy hotel and were captivated by a tea blend which is specific to the hotel. It was a hot, hot day, and they were amazed to be as refreshed as they were by a pot of Darjeeling. Some vigorous questioning revealed that tea wasn’t the only thing that had gone into the pot.
I’m not one for blended teas, and Earl Grey, Rose Pouchong and Lapsang Souchong (preferably from Taylors of Harrogate) are as far as I’m usually happy to venture into the land of flavoured teas. It took a bit of prodding from Mummy to get me to accept a cup from her precious stash – and my, I’m glad I did.
The tea that forms the base of the Savoy blend isn’t any old tea; no sweepings from the floor of the tea factory for the Savoy. It’s a FTGFOP (First Tippy Growth, Flowery Orange Pekoe) Darjeeling; a pinkish and very fine tea. The Savoy transforms it into something quite wonderful with the bizarre-sounding addition of a small proportion of dried lemongrass, cinnamon, peppermint and hibiscus – it’s not overtly herby, but very refreshing, cooling and extremely delicious on a hot summer’s day. The hotel recommended that the tea should be drunk with milk and no sugar.
Only one bag of the tea came back from Madeira, and while good Darjeeling is pretty easy to get your hands on, the herbs can be hard to find in the shops if you want to experiment with your own blend. Starchild International is a very good resource for buying dried plants and herbs online; try to look past the new-age quackery and be impressed that you’ve found somewhere to buy that powdered orris root you’ve been looking for all year.