In some ways tea is not dissimilar to wine, in that the end result is influenced by the climate, soil and growing conditions of each region in which it is produced.

Unlike other brands of tea, Waitrose speciality teas use mostly traditional whole leaf grades of tea. These are blended by our tea experts to produce a range that reflects the unique flavour of each tea.

There are three types of tea: green tea, which is popular in China and Japan; black tea, with its unique richly fermented taste and Oolong tea, which is halfway between green and black. n the UK we drink mostly black tea from the hill plantations of Africa, India and Sri Lanka.

Tea was discovered in China over 5000 years ago, but it was not until about 2700 BC that it became associated with health-giving properties. Legend has it that a certain Emperor Shen-Nung, who was at the time suffering from some aches and pains, drank a cup of boiled water into which some tea leaves had accidentally fallen and lo and behold - his pains disappeared.

Today, modern science is helping to unlock some of the secrets of this natural beverage, showing it can be more than just a welcome drink to wake up to or a delicious way to unwind.

  • Like some fruit and vegetables, tea contains naturally occurring antioxidants called flavonoids which form an important part of a healthy diet.
  • Tea with milk contains a number of vitamins and minerals, in particular it has reasonable quantities of fluoride and manganese.
  • Tea has no calories and even when you add semi-skimmed milk it still only contains 14 Calories and 0.4g fat per cup (so long as you keep off the sugar).
  • Tea helps us to meet the recommended intake of 6-8 cups of fluid per day, especially when taken as a refreshing thirst-quencher after exercise. Over half our body weight is water and it is important to replenish any fluid loss as soon as possible.

Lime Ice Tea

  • 2 Waitrose Ceylon tea bags
  • Juice of 3 limes, plus 1 lime, sliced
  • 2-3 tbsp caster sugar
  • 12-18 ice cubes
  • Pour 1 litre boiling water into a heatproof jug with both tea bags and infuse for 3-5 minutes. Remove and discard the tea bags then leave to cool.
  • Pour the cooled tea into a serving jug containing the lime juice, lime slices and sugar and stir until the sugar has completely dissolved. Add the ice cubes and serve.