One of the loveliest collaborations I’ve done on LLG was with Clipper Teas back in 2013, to support their work with the charity Contact the Elderly. I designed and hosted a tea party on a narrow boat on Regents Canal, using the flavour notes in the teas as the key ingredients in the recipes I developed for the tea. It was incredibly interesting, and I learnt so much.
But, as I discovered at a recent Clipper event, there is so, so much more to know about the art of good tea than just recognising flavour as a stand alone concept. Essentially, to deliver ‘flavour that sings‘, cups of tea must appeal to all the senses: Colour, aroma, sound are all equally important and all contribute to how we perceive taste.
I met with Clipper’s Masters of Tea, Dan and James, and with Flavour Scientist Rachel Edwards-Stuart at the most delightful afternoon tea to learn about why these matter. As well as leaving in awe of Dan and James’ palates, Rachel blew my mind too: I discovered through a simple taste test that I am a Super Taster, able to register a very wide range of flavours, which explains why I couldn’t tolerate brassicas as a child (sensitivity to bitterness) and why I can always tell that wine is corked, just from smelling it (because without smell we have no taste). This also explains why I loathe stewed tea – I am highly sensitive to its tannic notes.
The colour of the cup of tea you are about to drink will have a huge impact on your perception of the flavour. Clipper aim to create teas that deliver a colour that is as vibrant as the flavour.
‘A good cup of tea will be bright and coppery in colour and will therefore have a rich, lively flavour. Lesser teas can be dull and muddy in appearance due to the lower quality, often including very fine dusty leaf grades.’ Master Blender Dan
Whilst Clipper teas don’t have an obvious aroma, using your sense of smell is vital to uncover the depth of flavour in all of their teas.
‘Our sense of smell plays a huge part in how we perceive the flavour of food and drink. It is claimed that somewhere between 75% and 95% of flavour is actually down to smell.’ Flavour Scientist Rachel Edwards-Stuart
At Clipper they source the primary grades of the best teas from the world’s finest tea gardens across East Africa, India and Sri Lanka at the time of year when the leaves are at their best in order to create their signature black teas in Dorset. They never add anything artificial to any of their products – they don’t even bleach our tea bags.
Dan and James’s work includes combining the different qualities of each tea to create a range of delicious and characterful teas to suit all tastes. They then taste every batch of tea that they source and every blend that leaves the Clipper factory in Dorset.
Background noise can change the way we taste things. Experiments have shown that high-frequency sounds can enhance the sweetness in food, while low frequencies bring out bitterness.
Clipper believe a little light music is the perfect accompaniment to a delicious cup of our tea. (They’ve even formed their own band, The Clipperettes to put their own distinctive spin on some pop classics to create the perfect soundtrack to a Clipper tea break.)
Clipper Everyday Teas
Dan and James create an extensive range of black teas to make sure there is a tea for all tastes and every occasion. Their hero tea is Clipper Everyday Organic Tea, but they also make:
Clipper Everyday Fairtrade Tea
Clipper Gold Tea
Clipper Extra Strong Tea
Clipper Organic Early Grey Tea
Clipper English Breakfast Tea
You can pick up Clipper’s black tea range from clipperteas.com and leading supermarkets nationwide.