I have a thing for British tea. After Scottish Breakfast Tea for January and English Afternoon Tea for February, I wanted to try something with a more colorful flavor profile. So when I bumped into Harney & Sons Tower of London Tea, I immediately decided this was the one to try for March.
History of the Tea
Harney & Sons isn’t as old as many of the other popular British tea companies – they’ve “only” been around for about four decades. John Harney was the proprietor of an inn, developing his tastes for fine teas, desiring to serve distinctive teas to his guests. Since then, he and his family developed this wonderful brand of delightful teas which they sell online and out of two stores in the U.K.
The Tower of London has been around for more than 1000 years, built in the 1070s by William the Conqueror. The Tower has housed kings and queens, with Beefeaters roaming the grounds, and the Crown Jewels currently residing there. Of course, the infamous prisoners held over the centuries haven’t hurt the castle’s fame, though they haven’t helped the castle’s reputation so much.
When I was in London, visiting the Tower in 2007, we didn’t go in and instead opted to roam the grounds (that was free – and the tickets for entry and tour were a bit pricey for our budget travel lifestyle). But as we perused the historic information available on the grounds, we were rather horrified to realize how much of the history was drenched in torture, imprisonment, and death.
The history of the Tower is rich but dark and the tea parallels that, though with much brighter notes.
This particular blend – the Tower of London – is part of the Historic Royal Palaces Collection. The collection is based on the palaces cared for by the Historic Royal Palaces charity. Other castles cared for by the group include Hampton Court Palace, the Banqueting House, Kensington Palace, Hillsborough Castle, and Kew Castle.
My family personally has ties to this palace (as unfortunate as the history connected to my ancestor, William the Conqueror is), so that didn’t really hurt my desire levels to give it a try. But the flavors listed on the tin were what really sold me.
I wanted a tea with some fruitiness and color – and I found it in the Tower of London. The tea is a blend of black tea, oolong tea, black currant (a favorite fruit I associate with Ireland and Australia, interestingly enough), caramel, bergamot oil, honey flavor, and vanilla.
The black currant and bergamot flavorings are fairly strong, with the others not quite as strong. If you let the tea linger in your mouth for a few moments, you’ll cycle through the vanilla, honey, and caramel which dance their way through delicately, lingering nicely on the tongue afterward for a few moments after each sip.
My Thoughts on Tower of London Tea
The tin I purchased contains 30 sachets of tea. In the past month, I have gone through about 10 of the bags. Why? Because I’m carefully keeping these around so I can savor the tea for the next month or two before they get stale.
I absolutely love this whimsical tea. I pull it out when I’m in the mood for an elegant, flavorful, naturally sweet, mid-weight black tea. I absolutely love this tea for sitting and contemplating, for writing, for daydreaming, and for anything else creative or capricious.
If you love black tea and don’t mind bergamot (the flavor is fairly strong in the tea), you’ll likely enjoy this one.