Tea, otherwise known in Great Britain as the nectar of the Gods, is the most potent human liquid equaliser ever invented, in my humble opinion.
However you take it – builder’s, milky, black, or with a sprinkle of sugar and tender loving care – you almost certainly appreciate a good cuppa.
It can be used to mend broken hearts, soothe angst, fix cold spells and brighten up gloomy afternoons in the office.
Unless you work at Taylor’s of Harrogate where everyday is a 9-5 tea break:
Will Dixon, Tea Taster and Buyer at Yorkshire Tea, knows the restorative powers of everyone’s favourite hot beverage better than most, so UNILAD headed down to Taylor’s Harrogate HQ to chat over a cuppa, of course.
Dixon, one of four tea tasters at Taylor’s, told UNILAD Grub:
I think the great thing about tea is it’s a drink for every occasion. If you’re hot it’ll refresh you, if you’re cold it’ll warm you up.
Yorkshire Tea, a blend of black teas from Asia and Africa, was first blended in the 1970s, formulated specifically to match the mineral content of Yorkshire water.
At first, it was sold only to the great men and women of Yorkshire and the surrounding area. Nowadays, they work with organisations like the Ethical Tea Company to bring you a classic brew which doesn’t leave a bitter taste.
Since then, the tea has become widely popular and is brewed not only in Yorkshire but all over the UK, as well as other countries worldwide.
Yet Dixon explains English Breakfast tea owes so much to other cultures, adding:
Once you start working in tea, you can see the time, effort and passion which goes into making a great cup of tea.
It’s a skill and an art right through, from the factory to the buying, through to the blend.
I’ve got a real pride in my job and we all aim to keep that quality consistent for years to come.
He works at Taylor’s, who make Yorkshire Tea, among many other blends including Rose Lemonade, Spiced Apple, Sweet Rhubarb, Lychee and Lime, White Hibiscus and Peach and Pure Sencha green tea.
The floor looks more science lab than break-out room, although everyone who works at the family business would say blending and brewing really is an art.
So, what does it take to taste a great cup of tea? Dixon explained:
Tasting is a bit different to everything else in the tea trade. You can’t read about it or learn it form other people’s experience or from a book.
It takes about four or five years to get fully qualified.
It’s learning from other people’s experience and travelling out to where the tea is made, as well as the factories where it’s produced in and essentially, learning on the job.
However, it’s not as easy as it sounds – and there’re fewer tea breaks than you might expect.
Dixon explained how tea tasters have to be on the lookout for a number of qualities when grading the blends, not just manufacturing errors.
They include leaf size and appearance, the colour and brightness of the brew, the body of the brew — and whether it’s hard and brisk.
Even though Dixon’s chosen career path is everyone’s dream job, he applied on a whim and with no former knowledge of tea making, after working on his family farm and studying Economics at university.
It’s a highly desired job. People love tea around the country. You don’t speak to many people who aren’t interested in tea.
The team here has a varied background. I’ve got a colleague who’s an engineer. I personally come from a farming background.
Yet the perks are out of this world – or at least the UK – he adds:
Once you’re qualified as a tea Buyer and you want to buy teas from Kenya, for example, I will taste all their teas.
The travel is great as well; you get to go to some amazing countries and see things no one else gets to see.
They’re beautiful parts of the world, with green tea bushes stretching as far as the eye can see.
This guy might be the luckiest tea-drinker in the world.
If you think his job would suit you to a T, head over to Taylor’s to check it out.