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In the Minas Gerais, about 5 hours drive north of São Paulo. Nearest town Alfenas. It’s winter. Weather is like a normal Northern Irish Summer but with a bit less rain?

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There are 8,000 seedlings in this bed, and 1.3 million on the plantation. All planted by hand, and the lucky ones will mature by September ready for transplant into the fields.

Close-up of the seedlings. Look closely. The bean is planted in nutrient-rich sand, flat-side-down, and is pushed up from below by its plucky little root.

Robert picked these yesterday afternoon. Red acaia beans, 3 nice ripe ones, plus some over-ripe. Like raisins on a vine, the black bean looks unappetising but is a coffee cuppers delight. The ‘mucilage’ (flesh) on the cherry, rather than being removed by mechanical ‘pulping’ has been absorbed into the bean, giving it a fruity sweetness.

#CoffeeAdventures #SpecialityCoffee #CoffeeRoaster #SDBells #SDB@IpanemaCoffees

Robert with a one-yr old Acaia coffee tree. Will be productive in 3 years. A very resilient strain, very productive.

The flavour profile of these coffees, grown in the Sul de Minas area of the Minas Gerais region is full bodied with fruity aromas and citric flavours.

Following Robert’s successful tea trip to Darjeeling back in April, he is travelling again, this time to Brazil to discover the secrets behind one of the most innovative, quality driven coffee farms in the world!

Over the next few days Robert will be sharing photos and expertise gained from his trip. Watch this space too, for the forthcoming roasting/ tasting evening, which will take place at the end of the summer.

Email pr@sdbellsteacoffee.com to register your interest!

SD Bell’s will be closed on Thursday 12th & Friday 13th July, re-opening on Saturday 14th July at 8.30am.

All online orders will be processed when we return.

Many thanks

What could be a better way to cool down in this stifling weather than with an ice tea in your hand and your feet up?

At SD Bell’s Leaf and Berry Coffee Bar and Tearooms, we have an introduced a number of ice teas this summer to combat the heatwave! Here are a few suggestions for you to try at home:

Simply brew the teas in hot water as usual, dilute and sweeten as desired - chill overnight and serve with ice.

If you need brewing equipment to aid this process, check out a small selection of tea equipment on our website or call into our Emporium at Knock to view our full range of equipment including the Kilner Cold Brew Maker as pictured above.

 

 

With Father’s Day only around the corner we have the perfect selection of gifts to treat your dad. Coffee accessories, coffee subscriptions and more.

Our Aeropress is available to order online or in a hamper here.

We are now stockists of Hario V60s, these along with other accessories such the Gooseneck pouring kettle are exclusive to our SD Bell’s Emporium at Knock. Call in to view our full range of products or to order a bespoke hamper.

We also have over 30 coffees from around the world to choose from, and if you can’t decide what is best why not try a subscription and enjoy 6 different coffees over the next 6 months?!

 

So what makes Darjeeling so special?

There are many factors, but here are a few.

  1. The climate and terroir in Darjeeling is perfect for the cultivation of the Chinese variety ofcamellia sinensis. In fact “Darjeeling Tea” can only carry that name if it was grown from these plants, and solely in that region. Such controls have continued to ensure that these teas remain of the very highest quality and demand the very highest prices.

  1. More than half of all Darjeeling teas are sold at auction, the buying fraternity having had ample opportunity to taste the samples before the hammer falls. This ensures that the standard remains high, and that the market price for the tea is appropriately set.

  1. The soil, mildly acidic, is rich in minerals, sufficiently sandy to allow drainage, while dense enough to hold an appropriate volume of water. Rainfall is perfect. The right quantity falls for each of the four harvesting periods, with massive monsoon rains, hitting the Himalayas, deposit 75% of the region’s rain between June & September.

  1. Most teas across the world are manufactured using a heavily automated process of ‘crushing, tearing and curling’ the broken leaf. This encourages a fast fermentation, and optimises the dry leaf particles for fast infusion. All Darjeeling teas are processed for export using the time-honoured Orthodox process of rolling and twisting the whole leaf before selective cutting, drying and firing. These produce a much wider spectrum of flavours, subtle, floral and elegant.

As I travel to India this week, stay tuned for more updates. I plan to visit 9 estates across the region, tasting the ‘First Flush’ harvest as I go.

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In the 1840’s, the steady trade in tea from China faltered. China, a somewhat reluctant trading partner, had been bullied into accepting opium from the British East India Company, in exchange for tea, and violent exchanges (the “Opium Wars”) ensued. It became clear to the British that an alternative source needed to be found to satisfy our growing demand for tea.

As it happened, Camellia sinensis plants of the assamica variety were to be found growing naturally in India. However cultivating it in commercial volume proved less easy to achieve, so a strategy of planting both seeds and young plants from China was urgently pursued.

In fact, so desperate were the British to commercialise Indian production, that they even resorted to theft of thousands of Chinese tea plants, masterminded by Kew horticulturalist Robert Fortune. Fortune had identified that the region of Darjeeling had a climate and terroir perfectly suited to the growing of these Chinese plants, and so it was that this region was selected.

What makes Darjeeling so special? Find out in the next instalment….

Darjeeling 3.jpg

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