I first came across Williamson teas a couple of years ago, when I was given one of their wonderful elephant-shaped caddies as a Christmas present. Elephants are certainly a theme, as you can see from the box here:
Since it’s called “Traditional Afternoon”, I was expecting a strong, full-bodied tea that could stand up to milk, sugar, and biscuits without losing its flavour. And indeed, this is just what it delivered.
Source: The tea is Kenyan (grown on Williamson’s own estates). I picked up this box in Waitrose; you can also buy online.
Cost: Around £2.50 for 50 bags (125 grams). Not available loose leaf so far as I know.
Ethics: Almost all Williamson teas (including this one) are Fairtrade and Rainforest Alliance certified (although this isn’t displayed particularly prominently on the box, it is there – and on their website). In addition, they also directly provide extra benefits to the workers on their farms in Kenya.
Brewing instructions: Use boiling water, as it’s black tea. The box says 2 minutes or longer if you prefer. I found 2 minutes to be just right for drinking it as a medium-strong tea with milk. If you want tea without milk I suggest 1 minute, as I found it slightly acidic/bitter after 2. Although if you want a slap in the face to wake you up, it would probably work quite well.
Appearance: Not much to say here … I suppose it looks like what most people would call ‘normal’ tea. Good dark brown, nothing particularly remarkable, which I guess is what you expect from a blended black tea.
Nose: Reassuringly full-bodied. Lots of tannins.
Taste: The important bit! Good, strong, traditional ‘everyday’ sort of tea … conjured up feelings of security and comfort. Nothing amazingly special (unlike single-origin Kenyan tea can be) but very pleasant. Just what I’d want in an “everyday” tea – definitely add milk, and it could stand up to sugar, too, if you wanted some.
Food match: Traditional Afternoon tea deserves a traditional afternoon cake. I had mine with some rather excellent Victoria sponge – and on another occasion, with cherry madeira cake. Chocolate digestives (or other sweet biscuits) would also be excellent.
Would I recommend?: On balance, yes. Not the most exciting tea in the world, but a really good, reliable, ‘safe’ tea. By ‘safe’, I mean ‘your colleagues / family / friends won’t be shocked if you offer them tea, and then produce this’. Good tea, good price, good ethics, it’s all good.
What would you drink this with? Have experience with Williamson’s other teas? (I’ve tried their Earl Grey, and it’s very good …) – leave a comment and let me know :).
Also – especially as this is the first in the series – any requests for future tea reviews? I have a huge number of teas (well, maybe not huge, but probably about 15 – wait, is that huge?) lined up, including black / green / white / herbal (hmmm, I’m clearly missing Sencha and Oolong … though I have some Pu Erh) – if you’re interested in a particular type of tea let me know and I’ll bump it to the front of the queue.