As much as Filipinos have close affinity for the strong and aromatic coffee, the subtle tea has also found its way into local cups. In fact, British tea brand Twinings revealed to The Manila Times that the Philippines is their largest market in Southeast Asia.
This in mind, Stephen Twining of the 10th generation of the famed family of tea-makers, personally flew to Manila after visiting neighboring countries Myanmar, Vietnam, and Malaysia to share his knowledge about the beverage and the story of his family’s 310-year-old business.
For the uninitiated, Twinings began in 1706 when Thomas Twining bought what would become the Twinings shop on the London Strands. The shop, which is still operational today, straddles between the borders of Westminster and the City of London. The area was then populated with aristocracy as a result of the Great Fire of London.
Because of its strategic location, Stephen confirmed that their first patrons were aristocratic women. Only their class at that time could afford the drink, no thanks to high taxes on luxurious goods such as tea.
In 1784, Richard Twinings got the British Prime Minister to pass the Commutation Act, which dramatically reduced taxes and made the tea available to everybody.
Another milestone for the brand came three years later when they launched their logo that, like many aspects of the brands, is still being used today. The 1800s saw the birth of the brand’s iconic blend Earl Grey, first made for and named after former British Prime Minister Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey.
An affirmation for Twinings came in 1837 when Queen Victoria appointed the brand as an official Royal Warranter. The Kings and Queens of the United Kingdom have appointed Royal Warrants for centuries to tradespeople who supply goods or services to a royal court or certain royal personages. With the warrant, Twinings has supplied every British monarch.
Brewing the perfect cup
Saying that Stephen knows his cup is an understatement. Tea figuratively runs in his blood, having been aware of the business since he was eight years old. He formally joined the company in 1985 and has since been drinking at least nine cups of tea a day.
To achieve the full flavors of teas, Stephen shared the following tips:
Always use fresh water in your kettle or water heater. Fresh water contains more dissolved oxygen and this helps to bring out the full flavor of the tea.
For black teas and infusion, it is best to use freshly boiled water. For green or white tea, on the other hand, it is recommended to let the boiling water cool for a few minutes so as to avoid burning the leaves and giving off a bitter taste.
Preheat the crockery when possible, most especially if it is to be used for black tea. To do so, pour some hot water into the teapot or cup, swirl the hot water around for a few seconds and then discard it.
The tea to water ratio determines the intensity of the tea. One tea bag is sufficient for one mug of hot water. To be more specific, the flavors of one teabag can be maximized with 140 ml water while two teabags can flavor a teapot of 200 to 250ml water. If using loose tea, 2.5 grams or one tea spoon is equivalent to one tea bag.
The general rule, according Stephen, is to reduce the amount of water if the tea drinker wants more intense flavor.
Teabags should only be used once. All the flavors and natural benefits are released in the first use so using it anew brings no benefits.
Finally, all teas need time to infuse. For black tea, three to four minutes is just right. The first minute is for the color to be released while the second to third minute is for the aroma and flavor to be released. The third to fourth minute will let the anti-oxidants and natural benefits to be released.