Espresso Tea

The first thing many Japanese holidaymakers do upon arriving in London is to take afternoon tea – preferably at somewhere posh and expensive like The Ritz – and even in Tokyo there are several places where you can experience this great British break time, including a chain of cafés called, appropriately enough, Afternoon Tea.

Even in Ibaraki we are blessed with Kohcha-kan (located on the main shopping street between the north exit of Mito Station and the Keisei department store), which even holds tea- and cake-making classes, and La Table de Izumi (just round the corner from the Joyful Honda shopping centre in Hitachi-naka), which has an all-you-can-eat-and-drink deal for its teas, freshly baked scones and homemade jam.

For those of us wishing to recreate this afternoon tea ambience on a budget there is Royal Milk Tea, a sweet and ever-so-slightly spiced beverage that has never been anywhere near a member of the Royal Family, but whose taste lies somewhere between British Earl Grey and Indian Chai.

Aside from this, and as is the case in continental Europe, the Japanese tend to drink both green and black tea without milk, which means that no matter how long you leave it to stew, tea made from a locally bought bag tends to be weaker than an anorexic in an arm-wrestling contest.

So for those expats whose idea of a quality cuppa is a mug of ‘pyramid’ PG Tips brewed to the point that it makes you screw up your face as if you’ve just bitten into a raw onion, help could be at hand in the form of this new product from Kirin.

The Kirin website describes Espresso Tea as follows:

Experience ‘Afternoon Tea – Espresso Tea’ for yourself.

For this luxurious taste we have drawn out only the most delicious aspects of black tea leaves for a refreshing sweetness and a superior quality bitterness.

This concentrated richness has been created using our special high-temperature, high-pressure ‘espresso extraction’ method.

I’m not sure exactly how close this method is to that of making espresso (let’s face it, probably not very close at all), but to this teatime traditionalist at least, it tastes commendably close to the kind of cuppa you might get at a truckers’ caff – ie. one where the same tea leaves are brewed all day long in the same urn, a process that normally generates enough tannin to incapacitate an adult rhinocerous.

To add to that Union-Jack-bunting air of authenticity, Espresso Tea even has an English catchphrase – one that practically no one purchasing it will be able to understand – which reads, ‘The English custom of taking afternoon tea was invented by the Duchess of Bedford’, and as is the case with most of the research for this blog, was probably lifted straight from Wikipedia.

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