‘Few things are more beautiful than a cup of tea.’ The words come not from an English person but from a Spaniard – not just any Spaniard, but one of the Roca brothers, multi- Michelin starred chef-owners of the celebrated El Celler de Can Roca restaurant.
This shrewd observation was made during a tea tasting hosted for the Rocas by Ed Eisler, founder of JING Tea and featured in a new TV documentary called Distil your World, in collaboration with The Macallan whisky. ‘The Roca brothers are all about exploring new tastes and I started JING because I wanted to share the idea of appreciating fine tea as a journey of exploration,’ he says.
Consumers want to know more about the high quality chocolate, coffee and whisky they buy today, including their provenance. Just as interest in single malt whiskies has grown, more of us are coming to appreciate single garden teas, the pure, whole leaf varieties that reflect the taste and style of a particular region.
‘So much of what is marketed as English Breakfast tea might have colour and strength, but it lacks character and depth of flavour,’ explains Ed. Consumers get a poor deal and so too do producers. ‘That’s why I wanted to share the single garden teas that I’d experienced in Asia with people in Britain. Learning from the masters I wanted to explore with British consumers tea’s immense variety of flavour, aroma and colour – and the value of enjoying high quality tea at home.’
The growing number of fans of the select range of high-end teas produced by JING has also been enjoying them in restaurants such as The Fat Duck and Helene Darroze at The Connaught in London, as well as L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Hong Kong, among others. The company has a store in St Christopher’s Place in London, while online sales have increased enormously. Black, green, white, oolong or jasmine – the choice is as impressive as the quality, but it’s also JING’s expertise and insights that people appreciate.
The company has turned the crisis of Covid-19 into an opportunity to share this knowledge even more widely with online events and consultations. ‘We’ve offered people the opportunity to explore far-off lands through stories told directly by tea masters – from the high mountains of Taiwan to the humid plains of Assam – and we’re continuing to support those tea makers, who’ve also been hit hard by the global events,’ says Ed. Sustainability is a pillar of the company, which works to support tea producers and to reduce its environmental impact. Around 80 per cent of its teas will be organic or grown without pesticides by the end of 2021.
JING has launched personalised video consultations to help customers broaden their tea horizons and explore new varieties. ‘Our ability to travel has been severely curtailed during lockdown but we can always enjoy a good cup of tea,’ says Ed, ‘and a single garden tea connects you with the people and place of that single garden.’