The world’s first gin to be distilled with Scottish tea, using the leaves of tea plants grown and nurtured in Scotland, is to be launched this summer.
The Teasmith Grower’s Edition, Broich Single Estate Gin has been created by husband and wife team Nick and Emma Smalley from Udny Green in Aberdeenshire, who launched their original award-winning product in 2016.
Pre-orders are being taken now for the exclusive batch of just 1,000 bottles, which has been distilled with Broich tea leaves to create delicate notes of honey and apple.
These are handpicked from tea plants grown at Broich tea garden on the banks of the River Earn in Crieff, Perthshire, by a grower in the Tea Gardens of Scotland group.
More limited Grower’s Edition batches are planned for the coming months, using other teas produced by Scottish growers in other parts of the country.
Established in 2016, Tea Gardens of Scotland is made up of nine growers based throughout Angus, Fife and Perthshire who each have between 500 to 5,000 tea plants, meaning that production is very limited.
The Smalleys, who credit Aberdeenshire’s rich history and links to the tea trade as the inspiration behind their gins, have been working closely with the company to secure the right amount of Scottish tea leaves required to create their latest product.
The original The Teasmith Gin is distilled with handpicked black loose-leaf Ceylon tea from Sri Lanka.
Nick Smalley said: “Ever since we created The Teasmith Gin in 2016, we’ve wanted to develop a gin product which features Scottish tea, but we’ve struggled to find a supplier due to low production levels in Scotland caused by difficult growing conditions.
"The work of Tea Gardens of Scotland is really innovative and exciting for us. We’re pleased to get access to the first batch of tea made in The Scottish Tea Factory, allowing us to create this truly unique and special gin.”
Despite the harsh climate, compared to other tea growing regions in the world, Tea Gardens of Scotland have propagated thousands of tea seedlings over the past four years.
Some of these have been planted at Broich tea garden, helping to create the tea used in The Teasmith Grower’s Edition, Broich Single Estate Gin.
Broich tea is not currently available for purchase, however a small batch has been provided to researchers at the University of Aberdeen to help understand and develop authentication systems for teas grown in Scotland.
The tea is made using the finest leaves and bud which are gently withered in a temperature-controlled environment to develop its distinct flavour and aroma, before being hand-rolled to oxidise the leaves, creating the rich brown colouring. This process takes up to two days and the amount produced is minimal.
The leaves are then distilled with juniper, coriander seeds and orange peel that feature in the original The Teasmith recipe and are combined with lemongrass, fresh apples, local honey, almonds and cinnamon.
The recommended serve for The Grower’s Edition, Broich Single Estate Gin is a slice of apple and premium tonic.
Emma Smalley said: “The Broich tea has reacted completely differently to the Ceylon tea used in our original recipe and gives an aroma of honey and apples which makes for an exceptionally pleasant gin.
"We’re really pleased to bring this limited-edition product to market and hope to continue our relationship with The Scottish Tea Factory to explore more flavour combinations and possibilities using the finest tea to be made in Scotland.”
The Teasmith Grower’s Edition, Broich Single Estate Gin will be available to buy online, priced at £35 for a 50cl bottle or £59.50 for a collectable Distiller’s Flush edition, as well as at selected retailers including Aberdeen Whisky Shop and Inverurie Whisky Shop.
Broich is the first tea to be produced by The Scottish Tea Factory in Perthshire, established by tea consultant Beverly Wainwright, who helped Emma and Nick select the Ceylon tea featured in their original gin.
Beverly is affiliated with The UK Tea Academy, the only body in the UK to offer a professional tea certification programme and is Scotland’s only tea consultant licensed to run training courses about tea.
She said: “I created The Scottish Tea Factory to provide a space for Scottish tea growers to process tea from leaves picked in Scotland and to develop an education centre for those looking to learn about tea making.
"The Broich tea we have created is the result of a very gradual and considered process which has taken place over a number of years. The end result is a beautiful and rare black loose-leaf tea which captures the flavour profiles of the Scottish hills, soil and climate.
“We’re at the beginning of an exciting journey for tea production in Scotland and the next few years are critical. Although we’re never going to be able to produce a huge amount of tea here, we can make a small quantity of high-quality speciality teas that we can be proud of.”