February 2009 Edition
Renewed Unrest in Darjeeling
Everybody who likes tea will be more
than familiar with the Darjeeling region of India, perched high on
the foothills of the Himalayas on the Border with Nepal and Bhutan
and the Indian protectorate of Sikkim.
Darjeeling tea is known
the world over as a premium delicate tea much prized by the
discerning tea drinker, but the region was thrown into turmoil last
year shortly after the first flush of Tea was harvested in the
spring. The Gorkha peoples movement has been agitating for some time
for an independent or at least autonomous state of Gorkaland for this
people that would lay claim to vast swathes of the most prestigious
and valuable Tea plantations of the region. If the Gorkas ever get
there homeland We strongly suspect the tea that would be there
primary export, would remain “Darjeeling” in name. I doubt many
would like the “Gorkatea” by the sound of it here in the west!
According the reports we
have heard the violence has been minimal in these disturbances but
the disruption to the harvest of tea has been significant in places.
The 2008 second flush picking was badly disrupted loosing at its peak
some half a million dollars worth of exports per day to the Indian
So far our supplies have not suffered, but we are
watching the situation closely and advise any Darjeeling
to order early,
just to be on the safe side.
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Ethiopia in the News
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has
gone on record blasting coffee exporters. He has promised that the
government is going to “cut the hands” of exporters who are committing
grave crimes against the country. The Prime Minister revealed that 10,000
tons of coffee bound for export has simply disappeared. He also stated
that this case is being vigorously investigated.
Ethiopia is dependant on its coffee trade
and produces approximately 200,000 tons of coffee per year. Only half of
this amount ever hits the export docks as Ethiopians are also among the
largest consumers of coffee per capita. Any one can do the math here,
10,000 tons is 10% of the total export production of 100,000 tons, which
according to global prices is worth approximately 20 to 23 million dollars
(roughly 14 to 16 million pounds sterling). This is grave news for a
country already considered one of the poorest in the world
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Two Favorites in one cup
years ago my collegue Rupert, here at Wilkinsons lent me one of his
prized Coffee books. I was trying to learn what I could of the business
at the time and I was facinated by the history of coffee and the
variations that had been made from it.In one section it had some
recipies one of which captivated me that it became my "Party Treat" for
special occasions. With Valentines here at last it might be a treat you
and your loved one would like to try as well.
Cafe Borgia the book called it, the recipe is pretty simple extra strong coffee cream and Chocolate! The
way I came to make it is as follows. Brew up enough high roasted coffee
about half the folks your serving for. While its brewing take a bar of
your favorite dark (at least 70% ideally) chocolate, melt this in a
suacepan over a gentle heat until liquid.
pour the strong coffee into a cup and slowly add the Liquid Chocolate.
Don't do it the other way around the idea is not to mix the two (just
yet!) Lastly top off with a heavy cream layer, serve with a spoon or a
swizzle stick. The idea is to drink the bitter coffee slowly allowing
the liquid chocolate to slowly infuse the drink so every sip should be
sweeter than the last.
The cream smooths out the flavours but hopefully
will not mask them. If you get it just right the chocolate will be all but
gone just as you finish the coffee on top. I use Wilkinsons
Fair Trade continental for the base drink but you can also experiment
with either Mayfair
or perhaps Medici
for less strong but more complex flavours in the drink. Whichever you
use sipping at this drink will make a rare after dinner treat for you
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drop us a line at email@example.com with any questions or comments you have
on tea or coffee. We will endeavor to answer all emails as well as publish the
best or most frequently asked questions here.
Q: I was always told to
let tea steep for about five minutes. Is this true for all
Not really, as a general rule green teas should be steeped for about 2
minutes or so. Black teas roughly double that. In fact this is actually
a great tip to get the best out of your tea that we plan to feature it
next month as a full article.
We will be presenting a different coffee
and tea each month to tempt your palate and placate your pocketbook.
As its Valentines Month we thought to continue the sweet floral theme
with a coffee and a tea known for there delicate taste and aroma.
This month we feature an
unusual tea called Black Lotus. Black, not because it is made from
flowers of that colour but because it is a traditional China black
tea that has been scented and enriched by the careful addition of
pink lotus petals. Many cultures of the orient revere the lotus
flower and more than a few of them have made a signature tea from the
entire flower or (as we have done) with the petals as an added
ingredient. We believe our Black Lotus to be the perfect to this
world of exotic fragrant teas. Unlike some flower fragranced teas
ours is not overpowering but simply adds a note of sophistication to
the fine china tea base.
Black Lotus tea needs a
longer infusion time than most Chinese teas. We recommend about 4
minutes as opposed to the standard 2 minutes to get the most of both
tea and blossoms. Another tip to remember with delicate teas is to
use water “off” the boil to avoid scorching the leaves.
(approximately 80 degrees Centigrade instead of 95 to 100) or
(approximately 175 degrees Fahrenheit vs. 195 to 208 degrees)
This fragrant and
invigorating brew is best drunk without milk although some do prefer
a little added sugar. We would like to recommend trying this one in
the warm weather as well, a little sugar and some ice will provide
you with a refreshing alternative to sodas.
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The country of Brazil is
the largest grower and exporter of coffee in the world. Brazilian
coffee is grown at a comparatively low a altitude compared to those
of Africa, Columbia and the volcanic islands and is often used as the
base for bulk brewed and instant coffees.
there are a few particularly good sub types amongst the mundane. And the
king of the crop is the Brazilian
or more specifically “Bourbon Santos
2”. So named because the plants are direct descendents from the
first coffee beans introduced to Brazil from Bourbon (the modern day
Island of Reunion) in the 18th century. Santos is the region and the
name of the port from which the coffee is grown and exported
respectively. And finally the “2” is for the coffee’s grade.
Interestingly there is no higher grade in Brazilian coffees.
(Perhaps they reserved the “1” for the mythical perfect plant
found in the Garden of Eden?)
The unique character and
slightly ‘sweet’ taste of the brew is accredited to the beans
being ‘dry processed’. This ‘sweet’ combined with a smooth
and slightly nutty flavour makes this coffee and ideal coffee-break
cup. Unfortunately in recent years many of the coffee estates are
beginning to experiment with a slightly more consistent ‘wet
process’ for finishing the raw bean. We at Wilkinson’s believe
this to be an inferior process resulting in the loss of the complex
character of bean. This is why we only deal in ‘dry process’
fully certified Fair Trade Foundation beans, to bring you the
exquisite quality and taste of this unique coffee.
Try this coffee today to
experience the warm sunny beaches, beautiful people and lively
Carnival that is exotic Brazil.
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