By Nicole Martin
Scottish tea grower Wee Tea Plantation officially launched their brand in the U.S. on June 9th with the help of Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and actor Alan Cummings.
Two of the company’s teas will be offered exclusively by New York City’s famed Lowell Hotel. The Pembroke Room at The Lowell is elegantly appointed in a warm and inviting Victorian style. Guests can now enjoy Dalreoch Single Estate White tea or Smoked White Tea as a special addition to the Pembroke Royal Tea. The teas are served alongside a decadent assortment of sweets, scones and seasonal tea sandwiches.
The smoked white tea is often been compared to a high end Scotch whisky, according to blender and tea consultant Jamie Russell. The Pembroke Room serves the tea with a slice of lime. A quick rub along the rim of a teacup enhances the smoky aromas.
Smoked teas often resemble Lapsang Souchong, a pine-scented Chinese tea, but the team at Dalreoch crafts their version into a well-balanced cup by cold smoking the leaves with beech wood after most of the processing has been completed. This allows the succulent fruity notes to shine, according to Russell.
The teas offer a refined and very Scottish flavor, naturally fresh like a rich peaty glen. It has a very subtle flavor similar to a peaty whisky and it is the only smoked white tea in the world, said Russell.
“With the status of our teas and known standing of The Lowell as the finest high-tea served in Manhattan, we felt that unveiling our selection in such an iconic venue was a perfect fit,” said Russell.
The global tea industry grew from $87.5 billion in 2013 to $93 billion last year, according to market research firm Euromonitor International. Demand is rising and in some producing countries climate change has caused struggling tea growers to seek alternative producing regions. Camellia sinensis, which is native to regions south of the 20th parallel, is now commercially grown in locations previously considered too cold such as Canada, Russia and the U.S.
Scotland’s Wee Tea Plantation, located in Amulree, Perthshire, is the one of the newest and northernmost of the world’s commercial gardens. The company’s three-person partnership includes agricultural chemist Tam O’Braan, tea consultant Russell and Derek Walker, owners of the Wee Tea Company in Fife, Scotland.
The Wee Tea Plantation first made waves in the tea world when The Dalreoch Estate was established in 2011. The name is gaelic for “Field of the King”, a reference to battle sites of William Wallace in the name of King Robert the Bruce. Perthshire is nestled in foothills of the Scottish highlands where natural topography shields the plants from damaging winds. It also provides a cool and misty climate not unlike the Himalayan region of Darjeeling. The land that was once a sheep farm boasts nutrient rich soil that is watered by a natural spring.
Working with a frost-resistant variety developed in Italy, O’Braan employs innovative techniques to help his tea plants thrive. Degradable polymers placed around the plants prevent moisture loss and reflect sunlight back onto the leaves. It also has the added benefit of deterring insects, negating the need to use of pesticides. Once saplings the trees are stripped of their lower leaves and encased in UV reflective tubes that reduces the amount of light reaching the plan. This encourages more rapid growth of the upper leaves during the short growing season.
The Wee Tea Plantation is now working with other gardens in Scotland, on the Isle of Mull and Garrocher in Galloway, to produce a white tea called Scottish Antlers that is made with stems, as well as a black tea that is blended with local monarda flowers. The blooms are similar in taste to bergamot, putting a local twist on traditional Earl Grey.
Fifty grams of the single estate white tea or the smoked white sells for $178 online.
Learn more: http://weeteacompany.com