Out of curiosity, I ordered a 100g tin of the English Estate Classic Tea from Tregothnan – proudly marketed by the company as “The First and Only English Estate Tea”. Of course, reading the fine print, the tea is actually a blend of “finest Assam and China” with some of the UK-grown Tregothnan tea (from the estate in Cornwall). It is hard to tell what proportion of this tea is actually from the UK, and how much is Assam/Chinese, and further hard to tell what quality Assam/Chinese tea is actually being used; one would assume, by the tea production of these countries, that the blend must be heavily foreign tea with only touches of the UK product, but of course this is all guesswork.
What is not guesswork is the tea itself which, while I wouldn’t call disappointing (as I didn’t have great expectations), is not a particularly fine tea. At 3 minutes’ steeping time the tea had an overly strong tannic bite, wooden flavors, and astringent finish; on my next steeping I will err on the side of caution and try 2 minutes (the tin itself recommends “2-3 minutes”, though oddly does not offer any clues as to the tea:water ratio). The tea was not unpleasant but certainly was nowhere near the quality one would expect from the price. A touch of sugar helped to mellow the tea and make it slightly more enjoyable, but did not inspire any warm feelings of enjoyment that one would expect from the British tea tradition.
Perhaps my opinion will change on further steepings, but on the first one I felt I’d had my suspicions confirmed, that while this tea is an interesting novelty, it is still a long way from being considered a quality black tea. I will certainly update my notes if further steepings indicate otherwise, but at the moment it’s hard to imagine I will be trying this tea beyond this first tin.