Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The [Pounds Sterling]10 Cuppa; A Taste for the Finest Tea in China Sends Cost of a Pot Soaring

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The [Pounds Sterling]10 Cuppa; A Taste for the Finest Tea in China Sends Cost of a Pot Soaring

Article excerpt

Byline: ELIZABETH HOPKIRK

SOMETIMES a good old-fashioned cup of PG Tips just isn't good enough.

For the sophisticated tealover sometimes only the rarest of handpicked teas will do, made from the tenderest of tea plants and flown over from China at huge expense.

That'll be [pounds sterling]10, please. As the trend for ever more obscure teas sweeps the capital, restaurants are cashing in by charging as much as a tenner for a pot of tea for one.

It is not just any tea, however. It is white silver needle tea, not only said to have anti-ageing and anticancer properties, but so rare that it was once grown only in one town in southeast China.

Tea merchant Edward Eisler, who flies out to see the crop being harvested every April, said: "White tea is quite special. It is an absolute connoisseur's tea. It has a melon-ish aroma and a sweet taste and must be made with great care and not stored for long.

"White tea was originally only made in one town, Fuding, in the south-eastern province of Fujian.

The best varieties still come from China because they have centuries of expertise."

Mr Eisler is boss of London's main supplier of white silver needle tea, Jing Tea in Brixton, whose customers include Harrods, the

demanded a "surly" manager remove it.

Today, a spokesman for the restaurant, owned by Australian Will Ricker, who also owns E&O in Notting Hill and XO in Belsize Park, was unapologetic.

The restaurant serves two varieties of white tea - silver needle at [pounds sterling]10 and white peony for a more reasonable [pounds sterling]2.50 a pot.

"The difference is purely based on quality," a spokesman said, with leaves "handpicked and only harvested at certain times of year". He added: "We started serving white tea four years ago. It's mostly ladies who order it. Men order coffee.

White tea is meant to have all these amazing powers and is great for cleansing your body and soul. …

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