British Airways and Twinings launch a high altitude tea

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By Debbie Pappyn, Classe Touriste

From serving real espresso and ristrettos in the sky to the new trend of enjoying tea on board that doesn’t taste like sewage water.

Take for example British Airways who serves 35 million cups a year and strives to have the best traditional British “cuppa in the air”. Recently British Airways and UK tea brand Twinings are transforming tea in the air with an innovative new blend of the nation’s favourite drink, specifically designed to work at altitude. The British Airways signature blend tea will take to the skies from February 1, 2013 for customers 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.

The airline conducted tastings on the ground and in the air with a panel of 19 customers, cabin crew and experts including Twinings senior buyer Mike Wright who said: “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 perfectly balanced to create great-tasting tea at 35,000 feet.”

According to BA, the new tea is a blend of Assam, Kenyan and high grown Ceylon tea: a classic combination giving body, strength, flavour and colour. A bias towards the Assam produces a well-rounded, full-bodied blend, while the Kenyan gives it strength and lift and the Ceylon adds flavour. The tea has been specially created for British Airways in three-pint bags to enable cabin crew to serve the new blend straight from the pot.

BA’s decision to introduce a stronger-blend tea onboard is part of a larger initiative by the airline, called ‘Height Cuisine’, which aims to show the effort BA puts in preparing food for consumption at high altitude. The airline also offers an Afternoon Tea inspired by the Dorchester to its First passengers on selected flights.

Singapore Airlines
British Airways is not the first to offer special teas on board airplanes. Since 2009, Singapore Airlines launched the ‘Singapore Breakfast’ blend from premium tea purveyor TWG, one of the most well-established tea brands in Singapore. In business, first and in their lounges, Singapore Airlines serves this breakfast blend plus an assortment with flavors. The airline has also just introduced an English Tea service on its flights between Singapore and London, which includes the No.16 Afternoon Tea and No.42 Earl Grey tea blends from Harrods.

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