When it comes to having a cup of tea in the work place, generally it will be one of two varieties, Choysa, being the “favourite of New Zealanders for over 100 years”, is quite common, however, it is its equally well known, “oldest and all time favourite tea company” Bell that I have the most fond of working memories thereof.
In the bitterness cold of the Waikato I took up employment and a small, family owned and run liquor store in Hamilton. Here we had some interesting options as to what we could drink to refresh ourselves. In the summer it was the soda out of the fridge, or beer from the broken boxes that would otherwise have found home in the bargain beer barrel. However, in the depths of winter, rugged up under 3 jackets to keep out the bitter cold from the constant southerly that rushed in the door, we would warm our hands round a mug of good tea… and if we forgot to bring it with us, a mug of grey coloured Bell. You see, in the wisdom of economies our lovely employer decided a bulk box of 500 bags would be ideal and never need replacing till the end of time… tea tends not to age so well once the pack is opened, and i am sure this particular box had been there since opening day some 20 years prior!
After a couple of months of suffering a plan was hatched after a fortunate leak upstairs made its way into the coffee room below; The leak seemed to be well isolated away from all valuables and well prevented from spreading by the somewhat ‘unfortunately’ housed box of bell. We make our declaration that the bell should be replaced with a superior alternative for the betterment of staff morale in general. But in what was sure to have been some kind of tasteless prank we returned the next day to find a shiny new box of bell on the bench. It remained untouched by the staff from that day forward…
Bell in comparison to is well known competitor, has a similar deep woody flavour (most likely due to the high amount of stalk tainting the leaves, common amongst cheaper brands). The big difference, however, is in the finish where it produces a dusty flavour giving the overall impression with what can be best described as ground up chalk dusters in small bags. Indeed, if you are looking for a tea that is New Zealand owned and blended this is the way to go, and as will be explained in later posts, this is essentially the generic tea of Twinings’s tea in New Zealand. Much like the Choysa,
I recommend this tea with just milk, otherwise it tastes like sweet chalk dusters.