The British Airways signature blend tea will take to the skies from February 2013 for passengers in all cabins. With research to prove that taste can be reduced by up to 30 per cent at 35,000 feet, the airline commissioned Twinings to come up with a teabag that would taste as good in the sky as it does on the ground.
Kate Thornton, head of product and service, British Airways says, “British Airways has decided to lead a campaign to improve tea in the air. With an incredible number of teas available from around the world, there is a real opportunity to create innovative new flavours, perfect for flight. At British Airways we serve 35 million cups a year and we are proud to have what we believe is the best traditional British cuppa in the air.”
The airline conducted tastings on the ground and in the air with a panel of 19 customers, cabin crew and experts including Twinings senior blender Mike Wright who says, “Water on board an aircraft boils at around 89 degrees centigrade, not the ideal 100 degrees for making black tea. The reduced air pressure and humidity affect the functioning of the tastebuds, making things taste different. In addition to this, it was important that the new blend worked well with and without milk. The new British Airways blend is balanced to create great-tasting tea at 35,000 feet.”
Wright, adds that they had to develop a blend that satisfies and performs for a global audience with perhaps a British ‘background’ flavour. “After extensive in flight testing we found that a combination of Assam tea for body and roundness of cup, Kenyan for briskness, refreshment brightness of cup and high grown Ceylon for flavour and lightness. When combined, these flavours produced a fantastic cup. We also found that a particular type of tea manufacture known as ‘cut tear and curl’ used in the Kenyan and Assam tea gave a fast and efficient extraction at altitude.”
The new tea is thus a blend of Assam, Kenyan and high grown Ceylon tea and has been specially created for British Airways in three-pint bags to enable cabin crew to serve the new blend straight from the pot.
In First Class, customers are also being treated to a selection of speciality teas from the Twinings Whole Leaf Silky Pyramids range which includes English Breakfast; Earl Grey; Mint Humbug; Jasmine Pearls; Red Berry Fool and Honeycomb Camomile.In Club World, customers have a choice of Cranberry and Elderflower, Camomile and Peppermint infusions as well as Earl Grey, English Breakfast and Green Tea.