Sunday, August 11, 2013

Ahmad Tea: Keeping Tea All In The Family

It's been too long since the Darjeeling Darlings have done a write up on a brand of tea. But we couldn't think of a better way to get back into the swing of things than by introducing Ahmad Tea to our readers. Not only do we love their tea, but we can't help but give them one giant gold star for the way they do business too. As we've said before, there's nothing the Darjeeling Darlings love more than drinking tea to support a good cause.

Lizzie waves with Ahmad Tea at hand

When one samples a variety of teas from a given company, what do you as the consumer use as a standard test of quality? Do you compare how their version of "Earl Grey" stands next to your go-to brand's version of "Earl Grey?" Do give more credit for how many different kinds of tea a company offers or is tea leaf quality more important? Since the Darjeeling Darlings are professional serious tea enthusiasts and reviewers of tea, we try to look at the whole picture a tea company has taken, or maybe not taken, the time to paint for its potential buyers. We look at medium, composition, texture, color, and all the other components that make a painting great. So how does Ahmad Tea look when broken down piece by piece? Let's start with tea quality and taste.
Ahmad Tea's "Earl Grey"-perfect for an afternoon cup any day

It's always good to take a flavor you drink on the daily for a test drive when exploring a new frontier. We sipped "English Breakfast" to do the trick and found Ahmad Tea's version to be a green light to start brewing their other teas. It's a tricky thing, does one want all "English Breakfasts" to taste the same from brand to brand, or does a little ingredient variation between companies provide a nice taste twist to keep things interesting? Personally, the latter suits our fancy because we find subtle differences to be a pleasant surprise and relief from the predictable and expected. Ahmad Tea's "English Breakfast" gave a softer spin to the standard eat-with-your-toast-and-jam morning tea and that's okay. Most days you rely on that bold morning tea to launch you into your to-do list, but other days you just need a morning tea to gently coax you into productivity.

Lizzie believes breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Although the kitchen was fresh out of Ahmad Tea's "English Breakfast" (her new favorite), she found "English Tea No. 1" to be a lovely substitute.  

As it is still summer, we'd like to point out that there's no better time to serve hot fruit flavored teas at high tea. Raspberry, peach, blackberry ginger, passion fruit...the list goes on. We sampled Ahmad Tea's "Blackcurrant" and "Mixed Berries" while braving the heat of the South this July. What gems we found them to be! We always find it to be a plus when teas don't need any extra sugar added because that means the tea leafs are of good quality and well matched to the intended flavor. And what fun when a tea advertised as berry flavored produces a deep violet color to match, as was the case for "Mixed Berries." Blackcurrant really is the winner among the two though. It smells like an English countryside garden full of Verbena, Chrysanthemum, Peonies, and lush shrubbery summer blooms. If the staff of Downton Abbey served a tea to the Crawley family while they overlooked the garden mid day, it would be "Blackcurrant." What more can be said?

"Cardamon." Just thinking about it gives us a hankering for tea with a bit of kick to it. Are you a fan of Chai tea hot or iced? Pippa is. a borderline addict. This black tea composed of leaves fresh from Sri Lanka can actually be used to make Indian Chai tea according to Ahmad Tea. But for Chai lovers, just the hint of exotic spice will win you over. However, it truly sits as the happy medium between black tea and Chai for those bored or disenchanted with either. And with chilly weather approaching fast, what better tea to have saved for the fall?

Let's examine a couple other components of Ahmad Tea, namely how they run their company. Ahmad Tea was founded in 1986 and has remained a family business to this day based in Hampshire, UK. Not only are they family owned, but they've grown to serve tea to 70 countries around the world. Did we mention they're a member of the United Kingdom Tea Council too? We find their website pretty inviting as well. Not sure what tea to buy next? Try their "tea finder" that will help make a selection based on flavor and mood. Have a tasty tea recipe you're just itching to share? Or maybe you're looking for something new to bake for a tea party? Take a gander the tea recipe page where you'll find all kind of new treats to try.

We've saved our favorite part of Ahmad Tea for last though, which is their various charity work in health care, child welfare, education, community, and environment around the world. Ahmad Tea has close ties with Sri Lanka being that they've used tea leaves from the area for decades. It's no surprise then that Ahmad Tea plays an important part in the Razavi Project, an effort to improve services and facilities at the Sri Lanka National Cancer Institute. But Ahmad Tea also does work in Russia, Niger, and the Ukraine to support teenage orphans, bring water to drought-prone communities, and improve access to higher education.

All this being said, we hope Ahmad Tea continues to provide fine teas around the world while keeping their fingers in various charitable causes. With success like they've had, why not keep tea all in the family?

Until next time!

~The Darjeeling Darlings