Friday, 11 October 2013

Tea Blends Inspired by Art

Imagine going to see some of the world's most treasured paintings and then having your visual experiences packaged into aromas, tastes and textures that you could take home and enjoy at your will.  Well, The East India company's tea master has worked closely with the National Gallery in London to interpret a selection of paintings into blends of fine teas, flowers and fruits... Mmm, I love concept!

The National Gallery
Photo: BBC website

Since The National Gallery houses European paintings from the 13th to 19th centuries, each of the teas are inspired by well-known favourites such as Monet's 'The Water-Lily Pond', Avercamp's 'A Winter Scene with Skaters near a Castle' and my personal favourite Van Gogh's 'Sunflowers' (1888), which I decided to review...

Photo: East India Company

The Tea Master's inspiration: "Van Gogh gave this painting as a gift to his best friend, and for me it represents Spring, friendship and the meeting of kindred spirits.  I wanted the blend to be floral yet refreshing, something to be shared with someone close, yet possible to be enjoyed everyday.  Rose and orange add floral and citrus textures to the soothing, calming Chamomile flower base."

So here's mine to try, a generous mixture that I ripped out of one of my tea temples.  It's visually stunning with a strong 'dried flowers' chamomile aroma leaping off it.













Once brewed, the aroma came mainly from the chamomile but there was mint coming through that I hadn't noticed before and which seemed like an unusual choice for this painting.  There was rose and citrus aromas as well but more subtle and only noticeable because I was looking for it.  I decided to get on and taste the tea and study the picture at the same time for a multi-sensory experience...


Before I tasted this tea, I thought the mint was just an excuse to make it more refreshing, but by colour association I noticed the taste of the mint drew me to the green tones in the picture (how funny!).  Overall, chamomile seemed like a brilliant base for this tea, in texture and flavour.  However, the rose petals made it a bit feminine and would probably be more appreciated in the warmer months than in Autumn.  The citrus flavour seemed best for spring time as well but still isn't the most obvious choice to go with sunflowers in my opinion.

Whether your chosen painting and tea blend tastes exactly as you'd expect it to or not, it's still a great concept that encourages you to pour yourself a cup and ponder over your favourite painting.  I also think it would make a great gift if you know someone who likes any of the paintings in the selection or as a gesture, particularly this one which represents friendship.

My favourite 'Sunflowers' art print I have in my kitchen

These tea blends are available to buy at The National Gallery shops at the cost of one box of 15 tea temples for £7.50. You can also shop online.  They're also for sale at the East India Company's flagship store on Conduit Street, Mayfair (London) as well as online here

The National Gallery is in Trafalgar Square, London and entry is free of charge!