Although the annual Flower and Garden Festival at Epcot is almost over, there is still time to experience the gem that is the English Tea Garden Tour. Whether you are a fan of iced tea, green tea, black tea, or of trying new things, you will absolutely love this tour presented by Twinings of London (and it’s a great price, only $18 per person).
The tour begins with a history of the tea company, Twinings. If you’ve never been in the shop in the UK pavilion that sells the Twinings tea, I highly recommend it. I am a huge fan of tea, so I love trying new flavors and I loved hearing how some of those flavors came to be while on the tour.
While I personally do not drink alcohol and have no actual experience in this, the tour had a wine tasting-esque structure. Just like wine, our tour guide said that the taste of the tea depends on how and were the plant is grown. The tea plant is called camellia sinensis. Ever wonder how many types of teas there are? It’s a trick question because the answer is one (with the exception of herbal tea, which isn’t technically tea, but more on that later). White, green, and black tea all come from the same plant. The variety of the color and caffeine level is determined by the oxidation level of the leaves as they dry out.
So, once our guide, Ben, who is from a county in England several hours north of London, explained the basis of where tea comes from, he started explaining the flavor combination process. The Twinings family takes their tea very serious, for obvious reasons. Ben told us about the process of maintaining consistent taste and flavor through time and that some people at Twinings taste over 2,000 cups of tea PER YEAR!
As we walked through the Tea Garden in the UK pavilion, we made our way through several popular flavors of tea. We started with flavors that work for iced tea, then discussed popular black, green, and herbal teas. Fun fact, herbal tea is not ACTUALLY tea; it’s just herbs, fruits, and spices in tea bags. The amount of time you brew your tea also impacts the flavor. The longer you brew, the more bitter some teas can get. It was fascinating hearing how Twinings comes up with flavors that compliment the natural taste of the tea. From honey vanilla chamomile to lemon Earl Gray to berry green tea and more.
After hearing about the specialty teas (special-teas?), guess what? You get to taste them! You go over to the patio at Rose and Crown and can sample all the flavors of tea discussed on the tour! Whether you prefer tea with water or milk or both, find the combination that works for you. In addition to the amazing tea, each person gets two authentic English scones, cream, jam, and a special lavender Earl Gray flavored butter. And, they gave us a pack of three packets of tea to take home.
Overall, I highly recommend this tour. If a trip to Epcot is not on your schedule before the Flower and Garden Festival ends in a few weeks, be on the lookout in case Epcot opens a similar tour up during another festival later this year or if they bring it back next year. In the meantime, keep drinking your tea and when in doubt, pinkies out.