Is tea time just for women? At Kusmi Tea, we believe that tea is all about taste and flavor, and that’s something men and women can agree on. So we met with Vincent Ferniot: French journalist, excellent cook, and founder of boco, a chain that offers simple dishes from some of the world’s best chefs and pastry chefs. We talked tea, and specifically his love affair with Earl Grey…
I’m not a tea drinker by nature. I never had been, and how could I be since I don’t like water, especially when it’s lukewarm. When we were little, my brothers and I would watch my mother guzzle gallons of tea during the day and herbal infusions in the evening. This led us to conclude that hot water flavored with one of any number of possible ingredients was a woman’s drink… and we were little dudes. This aversion to hot liquids was coupled with a hypersensitivity to bitter flavors, which also meant coffee was off the table. So to be clear, the tea cup and I were complete strangers.
Don’t expect any feasts
But then something happened that turned my tea-free life upside down. My first trip to England. One of those “language immersion trips.” I was 12 years old and my father, gourmet that he was, warned me – Don’t expect any feasts at mealtime! And yet… certain English flavors from that first trip left a lasting impression: the flavors of breakfast. It’s the most exotic, savory breakfast, with fried eggs, bacon and pork sausages, sauteed potatoes and cheddar and toast cut into triangles, all of it served with one drink: tea.
A lively lady in waiting
I had declined the “English Breakfast” my hosts drank in the morning as politely as I could muster. So the lady of the house pulled a different white metal tin from her “personal stash” and said: – You should try the Earl Grey. This was the first I had heard of this Earl Grey, a Lord whose name would go down in history for this wonderfully aromatic contribution, while his deeds as Her Majesty’s Prime Minister would be lost to the ash heap of history.
It wasn’t the taste of the black tea that blew me away that day, but rather the lively zing from something I would only learn the name of much later: bergamot.
Coffee that’s good enough to eat
Since then, even though my tastes have changed, I’m still not particularly fond of herbal teas. I need flavor in my water. Even after numerous trips to the Orient, I’ve remained loyal to my first preteen crush: Earl Grey. I’ve tasted many versions of this tea, proportioned and flavored slightly differently by each teamaker. When I was first offered the chance to experience Earl Grey Intense by Kusmi Tea, I leapt at the opportunity with delight and nostalgia as always.
A ray of sunshine in the darkness
Far removed from lifeless English bagged teas, this tea is remarkable for the depth and character of the black tea at its heart. A full-bodied and fragrant tea with autumnal notes of humus and forest floor. The flavor of bergamot is pure and ample, elevated and brightened by the fruity note of lemon zest; just as citrus always shines like a ray of sunshine in winter. This tea is headed directly into my Earl Grey collection, and will be the perfect companion for winter tea time. It will warm your body, spirit and heart.