I’m a bit of a history geek so when I saw a Twitter account from the East India Company I assumed it was some kind of historical association and followed it. It turns out that not only is the East India Company flourishing after some 400 years in business, but it has also begun to sell a range of fine foods from its website and flagship London Store.
If you have a quick browse of the site you’ll see a wide range of luxury food and drinks inspired by the EIC’s colonial past – exotic damask rose tea and rich chocolate truffles in beautifully-decorated boxes are just a couple of examples. I found the rose tea particularly interesting, so was delighted to try it for them.
I’m not a fan of herbal and fruit teas – I find them very dry and they never taste like to you think they will, but the Damask Rose tea tastes exactly as you would expect as all you need to do is soak the actual rosebuds in hot (not boiling) water for four minutes. I do love Chinese jasmine tea and the rosebuds had a very similar flavour underneath the strong rose smell which was actually quite sweet and refreshing. I don’t have one, but the rose tea would look lovely served in a glass teapot, as the dried rosebuds gently unfurl in the water and turn it a lovely colour. Starting at £15 for 25g of rosebuds, it may seem a little expensive, but you only need a few of the flowers to get a really aromatic pot of tea and a pack would make a really unusual Christmas present that would last for a good while.
The second tea I was sent was the Flower Tower, which was something very different – I was puzzled to receive what looked like a dried flower bulb, but the instructions said steep for four minutes, so I duly did so. Well, what a surprise! As the hot water goes to work on the bulb it open gently revealing a tower of flowers that float gently in the teapot and look beautiful – again this would be best used with a glass teapot to get the full effect but, sadly, I don’t have one. The tea itself is similar in taste to the Damask Rose tea – a light, gently-flavoured infusion, but I found that I had to remove the flower tower before too long as it did start to over-flavour it, although this is entirely my taste, you may prefer to let it infuse for longer. One Flower Tower bud costs £2.50, which I thought was very reasonable given that it made a full pot of tea and it would certainly make a talking point when served.
Both of the teas I tried are available from the EIC Fine Food website or from the London store on Conduit Street and the website makes a point of their anti-oxident properties. They are also apparently excellent as skin tonics, but perhaps you’d need to drink them for longer than I to have that kind of effect. Both teas were lovely and refreshing to drink and I’d be happy to receive either as a gift this Christmas.
Please Note: I was sent the flower teas to try for the purposes of this review, but the opinions expressed are, as ever, my own.