Our mission was to blind-taste four blends of teathe one that was being used at the time, and three pretenders to its crown. We tasted them both with and without milk, marking them for appearance, flavor, strength, performance with and without milk, and overall cup. And if you think that was taking it seriously, we tasted each one four times: on the ground, an hour or so into the flight, halfway through the flight, and shortly before landing. It was all Top Secret. As you'll see from the video, not even Wright knew which was which.
And though we'd never noticed a lack of taste mid-flight before, the further into the flight we got and the more time spent at altitude, the more the teas changed. One became increasingly unbearably acidic (we thought it was the one we’d disliked on the ground – it wasn’t). The others grew similar. They even looked the same.
The upshot? We tasters couldn’t agree on a blend on that flight, but two of the teas did well throughout, so the Twinings people took those winners, fiddled a bit more, and created the new BA blend: a mix of Assam (for body), Kenyan (for strength) and high grown Ceylon (for flavour). So there you have itnearly a year’s work for your cuppa. Deliciously bonkers. Bless ‘em.
Twinings' Mike Wright teaches us the expert way to taste tea
· Taste reduces by up to 30 percent in the air.
· Water boils at 89 degrees centigrade on board, rather than 100 (a temp which tea needs for flavor).
· Tea is usually the last thing you have on a flight, so a bad cup will color your memory of the meal.
· BA serves 35 million cups of tea every year, which is a lot of final opinions that a good cup could swing.
· The winning tea had to taste equally good with milk (for the Brits on board) and without (for visitors).
We flew as a guest of British Airways, but all photos, opinions and tea snobbery is completely our own.
[Photos: Londontown for Jaunted]