Ben's Pick of the Best

Here are my desert island teas. I enjoy drinking a wide range but these typify the height of artisan tea making. They deliver the most distinctive flavours and would be the pride of any tea making country's output.

  1. As low as £16.00
    Our Gabalong is made with high-quality green tea to guarantee maximum GABA content, twice the requirement to be classified as such a tea. This batch has a mild, almost creamy character with a distinctive, natural mango fragrance. Made from tea leaves picked and processed into green tea on Ali Shan, or 'Ancestor Mountain' as it is known. Proven to lower blood pressure it should not be drunk by those with a clinical diagnosis of low blood pressure.
  2. As low as £21.00
    This high quality tea, known as Black Ruby, grows on La Cumbre, Valle del Cauca, situated in tropical western Colombia. This variety is a small tightly twisted leaf, which offers notes of cocoa, honey, sweet raisins and plum. The garden is reached by narrow, winding, dirt roads that lead to a subtropical cloud forest. The farm is entirely organic and each lot is bordered by wild forest, and great bio-diversity.
  3. As low as £7.00
    Simply the best Earl Grey. This is Imperial Teas of Lincoln best selling, secret blend for a good reason. Made freshly in the shop without compromising our choice of ingredients to create a fragrant, rich, strong and unique infusion. Enjoyable with or without milk.
  4. As low as £13.00
    This very high-quality tea is grown in the volcanic soil on the island Kyushu in an area called Kirishima which means island of fog. It has a lustrous green leaf, rich fragrance and sweet, almost umami flavour. It is one of, if not the most distinctive of all Japanese Sencha teas and whilst not cheap I believe it offers the same quality as teas four times its price. Super high in antioxidants.
  5. As low as £15.00
    This very rare tea grows wild in the woods of Georgia, near the Mtirala National Park, just a few kilometres from the Black Sea. These hand-produced teas have the quality of some of the finest teas in the world grown in Taiwan and are similar in complexity. The soft, infusion almost without any bitterness has nuances of wild berry, maple, pine, malt, raisins, honey, cocoa, caramel, apple, chestnut and spice. The long, wiry matt black leaves also look like those of Taiwanese teas, the larger leaf size reflecting the fact they are produced on tea trees rather than bushes. Many of these tea trees were planted in the 19th century and until recently were not harvested. The rich forest soil, the surrounding trees offering shade mean that these wild trees produce naturally high quality material for artisan tea makers to express.
  6. As low as £25.00
    Without a doubt, my favourite black tea. It is delicious without milk but more so with! This hand picked tea is also processed skilfully by hand to produce its elegant spiral shape. Just 500kgs are made a year due to the fact it is made from leaves that have been bitten by tiny insects. This only happens for a couple of weeks in the early summer. It is the damage done to the leaf and the secretions from the leaf to repair itself that give the tea its sweet, honeylike flavour. Most of this type of tea is made into the famous 'Oriental Beauty', also known as Dong Fang Mei Ren.
  7. As low as £21.00
    I had often imagined a tea being made that could combine my two favourite oolong teas into one. I also imagined it would be impossible. I'm sure you will imagine how thrilled I am that someone has done it! Our supplier in Taiwan made this tea in the summer as an experiment. Needless to say, it is a resounding success! Whilst, not an 'Oriental Beauty' tea it has much in common, sharing the need for insects to bite the leaves. Naturally, it too has the beautiful honey, fruit and floral character found in 'Oriental Beauty' but also some of the buttery, green and cooler flavours found in a top 'Jade' Oolong. It differs from other 'Oriental Beauty' teas for some important reasons. Firstly, it is grown in a different place and much higher up the mountain at 1500 metres.
  8. As low as £21.00
    Only young Benifuuki leaves are first harvested by hand and then stored and oxidised for 3 months in the dark at low temperatures. This laborious process results in a tea that is extremely high in methylated catechin content, which is claimed to help combat hay fever and seasonal allergies. The flavour is smooth, full of honey and floral notes with some cool, mentholated, mineral tones normally found in Japanese green teas. Other flavours noted are apple, quince, raisin, cereals, muscatel and vanilla.
  9. As low as £15.00

    One of the world's best black teas and one from our range with a deeply devoted following. It is deliciously complex in flavour with a rich liquor that makes it a perfect breakfast tea. This is Lion Mountain's finest offering, although only a very small quantity is made. It has a complex, smooth, malty flavour and golden infusion, with a beautifully handcrafted leaf. A superb tea that can take milk and makes a delightful afternoon drink. Hao Ya is one of China's 'Famous Ten' teas.

  10. As low as £22.00
    Jun Chiyabari is a family run tea garden established in April 2000. The tea is aromatic and depending on the variety or cultivar and processing, flowery, fruity, grassy or nutty. This batch also has the special 'muscatel' character found in some Darjeeling and Oriental Beauty teas.
  11. As low as £90.00
    This is without a doubt the best tea in the world. It has an incomparable flavour and fragrance born of the unique area in which it is grown and made. It is hard to do the tea justice with a description but you can detect apricot, muscat grape, geranium, elder, wildflower honey, sandalwood, rose, caramel, gardenia and lilac to name but a few. We buy several 600g entrants to the annual competition, selecting from the 'First Rank', the highest quality 2%. Those who get to try this beautiful tea will be amongst a very privileged few.
  12. As low as £25.00
    This prizewinning tea from Taiwan was as a result of a tea cultivar breeding scheme started over fifty years ago. I have to say it has the most complex flavour I have come across in a black tea and has become my equal favourite type. It is a broadleaf tea cultivar yielding a tea infusion with a natural cinnamon fragrance and a rich, malty flavour. As with all Taiwanese teas, this manages to combine complex floral and fruit flavours with the rich, malty body to make every sip taste different to the last.
  13. As low as £19.00
    Thailand is a relative newcomer to the world of tea production but due to the use of fine Taiwanese tea stock and expertise is making big waves in the high-quality tea market. This rarity has a fruity, caramel-like bouquet with a cup that shines in amber tones. It is very aromatic with a subtle sweetness and hints of honey on the palate.