There are some very necessary things in life. Not for life, but for living well, for making the difference between simply surviving and living your best life. Tea and coffee are perfect examples of this. For example, if you are a latte hound, imagine that you can never have a cup of café-au-lait ever again. Doesn’t life suddenly seem to be a colder, more dreary place? Sure, you will survive – but some of the sheer pleasure in waking up every morning will be erased…
This is, perhaps, a trifle hyperbolic, but what is a little exaggeration between friends? The truth is, there really is nothing like a good cuppa – of either beverage! – when it is needed, and one of life’s true pleasures is finding a good source of delicious coffee beans or refreshing tea.
If you are accustomed to picking up your favourite brand from the supermarket, perhaps you are missing out on a whole world of taste and flavour that can make your favourite brew even better – read on and find out where in Europe is the best place to source your coffee beans and tea!
The bean was first cultivated by Arab harvesters in the 14th century, and the first western country to experiment with the bean was France, which quickly mastered the art of brewing rich strong java. From there it spread rapidly across Europe, even – eventually making it to London and from there the rest of the United Kingdom. At first, and perhaps because tea enjoyed much greater popularity with the British, coffee in the UK was something to be avoided or pitied. Being expensive – as was sugar, the tea itself, and most spices – cooks tended to make the drink very weak, which was not ideal for allowing the full flavour to reach the drinker’s synapses.
The poaching of French cooks to work in the large mansions and palaces of the nobility soon rectified the error, and soon coffee-houses were springing up, usually frequented by well-to-do sons of noblemen and the wealthy who had little to do with their time.
Elsewhere, Italians developed a strong love of the bean, enjoying their daytime and evening beverage hot, dark and very strong in the form of espressos, but starting the day with a mild, milky blend now immortalised as the cappuccino. True Italian afficionados adhere to this trend, enjoying milky versions only for breakfast, and sticking with espresso the rest of the time.
Today, these three countries are the best source of coffee beans, if you are looking to buy coffee online: the Kent & Sussex Tea Company has sourced the best from Italy, France and the UK, as all now have a long and successful tradition of java preparation, from the growing and harvesting of the beans, to the roasting and grinding – all the steps, in short, to ensure that your cup of java offers the same smooth satisfaction that you have come to expect from your morning pick-me-up!
Tea is a slightly different kettle of fish. While it was not England – or even Britain – that first discovered the Chinese and Indian delights of tea, it did not take long for English traders to supersede the Portuguese. Portuguese sailors, interestingly enough, wrote of unique drinks, brewed from the leaves of small shrubs, in both India and China more or less simultaneously, quite possibly not making the connection that the leaves used to brew them was the same, so different are the end results of black tea (also known as Indian tea) and green tea (also known as Chinese tea or under the name of any of a number of subtle variations thereof.
Portugal’s business interests in both places were soon shunted aside by the Dutch and British merchant navies, and Britain very quickly developed a taste for tea that was universal from the monarchy all the way down to the lowliest man in the street. This taste was not shared by the rest of Europe, perhaps because the British nobles worked out that adding a little sugar to their tea made it taste even better. It was not long before a nice cup of tea was the panacea for all ills and the mark of British civilisation all over the colonised world!
The best cup of tea to be found in Europe will almost certainly be in the United Kingdom, and if so, then it will be in London: where the dried leaves have been prized, measured, weighed and mixed with an unrelenting skill for centuries. There are families whose tea blending skills have been passed down through generations, with each generation learning from their forebears and adding in their own unique twist: tea from the Kent & Sussex Tea Company has benefitted from such skills. You only have to try it to see!