The burgeoning world of non-alcoholic drinks continues to grow, with consumers increasingly looking for more refined and premium options. In response to this, Saicho, purveyor of premium sparkling teas has just launched a new Rare Tea Collection. Building on the brand’s exciting range of gastronomic teas, the new collection offers tea connoisseurs the chance to try some of the world’s most exquisite blends.
The first tea in the collection is Eight Immortals. This sophisticated Chinese oolong tea features exotic spiced aromas and complex bittersweet notes and is named after one of China’s most famous myths: the legendary Eight Immortals Crossing the Sea. A rare Dan Cong tea cultivar from Guangdong province, China, it’s grown on Phoenix Mountain, an area celebrated for its mineral-rich soils, foggy climate and rocky landscape. It’s here in the tea garden,1000m above sea level, that the leaves are hand-harvested in early Spring.
Meticulous attention to detail
Unlike most teas that are picked from small bushes, the leaves used in this blend are plucked from Dan Cong tea trees, which can grow to three metres or more and have matured for two to three decades. While their height makes them more of a challenge to harvest, the resulting yield is immensely high-quality. The leaves then undergo the process of withering underneath the sun and then in the shade, on bamboo trays. This is followed by shaking, rolling for oxidation, roasting in a hot pan and squeezing to release the flavours — all of which is overseen by Tea Master Mr Huang. Finally, the Dan Con leaves are cold brewed for 24 hours, to extract the delicate aromatics without allowing the bitter and astringent compounds to be released. This results in a clean, crisp and complex liquid, which is then delicately sparkled to enhance the natural aromatics of the tea.
Served chilled in a Champagne glass
Like any luxury bubbly, the tea is best served in a champagne glass. The very first sip provides aromas of nectarine, ginger, sweet baking spices and confit peach with an underlying earthiness on the nose. With subtle savouriness and a lightly tannic finish, the Eight Immortals tea reveals further flavours of ginger, mango, tangerine and melon on the palate. A bitterness reminiscent of blood orange is followed by herbal characters of anise, fennel and tarragon, making it ideal for pairing with soft cheeses or lightly spiced dishes.
Following the tradition of tea gifting
Arriving just in time for Christmas, the Eight Immortals tea provides a wonderful contribution to festive celebrations. Share it together as an alternative to alcoholic fizz, or present it to a loved one as a unique gift. Each 750ml bottle has a hand-folded paper neck wrap and comes in an earth-toned box with gold foil detailing depicting a phoenix — a nod to the tea’s origin on Phoenix Mountain. Saicho founder Charlie Winkworth-Smith commented: “With our new Rare Tea Collection, we want to showcase some of the finest teas in the world. Inspired by the Asian tradition of tea gifting, we hope that the Rare Tea Collection will be a new way to carry this tradition forward.”
Eight Immortals has an RRP of £32.99 and is available to purchase from Saicho’s website.