(Gifted for purposes of review)
Full disclosure, when Birchall first reached out to me, thereby acknowledging my existence, I immediately squeaked and told my best friends and husband in our “family” group chat because I was SO excited – they are not big tea drinkers so they were confused but happy for me, ha.
I’ve had the pleasure of a few cups of Birchall tea over the last year, both through my Varieteas subscription and at tea-rooms in the North-East of England, and I was/am aware of their reputation as both an environmentally conscious and award winning tea company (56 Great Taste Awards since 2011!).
Captain Birchall George Graham “planted his first tea bushes in early spring of 1872”, which at time of writing makes gives Birchall a 147.5 year tea heritage, which is pretty incredible. Captain Graham was also a founder member of the Darjeeling Tea Association, which, impressive to have on your CV. Birchall Tea is now run by the fifth generation of Grahamseses, and they are one of the largest exporters of East African tea in the world.
The Birchall Tea Factory and Radfad HQ are solar panel sisters, although Birchall Tea’s new factory near Stonehenge has 460 panels and is the first UK tea factory and warehouse to be fully solar powered – in fact they’re hoping to produce more electricity than they use! Also a longstanding member of the Ethical Tea Partnership, offering Rainforest Alliance and Fairtrade Certified products for nearly a decade, and moving towards making the last of their three kinds of teabags completely plastic free at the moment by developing a new kind of plant based sealant… in terms of social and environmental responsibility, Birchall are aware of the steps that need to be taken – I suppose that sort of long-term progressive thinking is how your company grows and thrives over nearly 150 years!
ANYWAY, I’ll stop harping on, my tea’s getting cold…
Over the last few days I have been enjoying a Birchall Tea signature blend – the multi award winning Great Rift. I requested this tea specifically as I love breakfast blends (who doesn’t?) and I find they’re a really good way to becoming better acquainted with a tea company.
These “Everyday” teabags are the last type that Birchall make that still have a little bit of plastic in them – they are “made from a paper, that is derived from a blend of natural Abaca (a banana shaped plant) and other renewable cellulosic fibres”, however the sealant contains a bit of plastic, so if you’re trying to avoid that, Great Rift can also be purchased in prism or envelope teabags, both of which are fully plastic-free, or as loose-leaf.
Great Rift is described on the Birchall website as follows…
“We are very proud of our deliciously strong breakfast tea bursting with flavour, a winner at the Great Taste Awards for a record 9 years in a row. Birchall Great Rift is a unique breakfast blend, produced through five generations of Birchall Graham’s family.
“It is sourced exclusively from estates across East Africa, from Rwanda through to the Great Rift Valley in Kenya, where the very best teas are to be found.“
First things first, things I enjoyed before I even put the kettle on – 1. Steep time is two mins, which, for a black tea bag is exactly what I like, and 2. It specifies that this tea is best enjoyed with milk. This is something I’ve come to realise about a lot of English Breakfast blends, but so few seem to specify it. Personal preference is king, obviously, but a lot of EB is very punchy, and intentionally so, to prevent it disappearing once milk is added, as a lot of people do as a matter of course.
(3. It says that it’s best with Brita filtered water and I coerced Mr Radfad into getting us a Brita filter a few months back, yiiisss)
On to the tea… as you’d expect with a breakfast blend, as soon as you pour over the just-boiled water, the dark tea starts to colour it. The aroma is unique to the blend yet still familiar, comforting, recognisable, malty fullness.
I have tried the tea without milk, because I am a r-e-b-e-l, and it’s enjoyable enough, but it really is lifted when you follow the serving suggestion, the sweetness of the milk rounding all the elements and connecting all the dots, smoothing while still bringing you a Good Strong Cup of Tea.
Whether its a lazy Sunday morning with a late breakfast, or the perk up you need on a working morning, Great Rift is a rich and delicious tea that deserves its NINE(!) years of Great Taste awards.
❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️
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