Update: I won the trip and will go to Sri Lanka in December with a group of bloggers and Fairtrade Netherlands! Yay!!!
Black tea is often named after the area it originates from. Ceylon tea is a good example, it's from Ceylon, the country we call Sri Lanka nowadays (well, since 1971).
I hardly knew anything about the tea history of Sri Lanka, until one day at work I had to write something about this island, south of India.
In 1824 the British brought with them a tea plant to their colony Ceylon. Soon it appeared that the plant was doing really well and the number of plantations grew. Ceylon tea became known around the world. In 1965, the country even was the largest exporter on earth.
In Sri Lanka mainly black tea is processed. You can only call it Ceylon if the content is 100 percent Sri Lankan. So it's not allowed to mix it with tea from other parts of the world. And if its also wrapped on the island, it receives a special mark. This way Ceylon tea stays authentic. There's also green and white tea made on the island. Contrary to what some people think, all three types come from one plant. The process just differs. For example, green tea is not fermented, and black is.
The tea plant is doing so well on Sri Lankan soil due to the climate and the fertile ground. On the website of Fairtrade Netherlands I read that much of the fairtrade tea in my country comes from Sri Lanka.
Fairtrade Netherlands gives bloggers the chance to win a trip to the island. In order to win I have to write about one of the farmers whom Fairtrade Netherlands works with. I've chosen a tea plucker since I really love tea. Her name is Kuganashwarie. She works a the Norwood plantation. Norwood is part of the Bogawantalawa Tea Eastates, a Fairtrade coorporation. Kuganashwarie has 1200 colleagues. They either pluck the leavers or work in the factory where the leaves are turned into tea.
I'd love to learn more about the lives of people like Kuganashwarie. We drink tea all the time, and it's so normal for us. Apart from water, tea is the most popular drink in the world. But before those tea bags come to our stores, they have travelled a long way. That's why I like it so much that Fairtrade Netherlands takes care of these people and puts them in the spotlight. Not just through sharing their story, but most importantly because they try create a more honest business which improves the lives of people like Kuganashwarie.
I don't want to get carried away. Maybe you're just here for the recipe of those delicious tasting pots de creme. I understand that, but hang on for a sec will you?
Kuganashwarie works at a certified plantation. It means that the employees get a amount of money which is spent on for example warm coats and thermos flasks. This way, they can enjoy a hot cup of tea when they are plucking the leaves in the mountains. Also, they have free housing and their children get free education. Great right!
All of this makes me very happy. However, I am a journalist and sometimes I am a bit sceptic. I wonder if their lives really improve by working on a certified plantation. That's why I'd love to see it with my own eyes.
Ok, are you still there? Good! Because it's time for the recipe. Earl Grey pots de crème. Now I know that Earl Grey isn't Ceylon, but this is what I had at home. Plus I don't have a lot of experience with tea in bakes yet, so I chose Earl Grey since it goes really well with a lot of flavors. And.. Earl Grey is a mix of black teas, of which Ceylon is often one. The tea, the coconut milk, and the chocolate are all fairtrade. So I hope you'll forgive me :).
Pots de crème is a French custard, baked in the oven. Because of the chocolate, tea and vanilla, these desserts have a very rich flavor. So if you have the time, please try it and let me know if you like it!
Chocolate and Earl Grey pots de crème with vanilla
400 ml coconut milk
1 tea bag earl grey or 1 tbsp tea
1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped
1/2 tsp orange zest
85 grams of chocolate
1 tbsp raw cacao
a pinch of salt
35 grams coconut palm sugar
2 egg yolks
Preheat the oven to 300 F. Heat the coconut milk in a small saucepan until it just cooks. Add the tea, vanilla, and orange zest. Let it steep for at least ten minutes
Meanwhile, melt the chocolate au bain marie. Stir in cacao powder and salt.
Reheat the milk and remove the teabag or the loose tea with a strainer.
Combine the chocolate and the coconut milk. Stir.
In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks and the egg together. Add the sugar and stir well.
Slowly pour the chocolate/coconut/tea mixture into the whisked eggs and combine until it is very smooth.
Use a measiring jug to evenly divide the custard over four to six coffee cups or glasses.
Transfer them to a baking pan and the pan with hot water (from tap is fine). Make sure the water comes halfway up the sides of the cups.
Bake the custards until they are almost set but still a bit wobbly in the center. This will take 30-45 minutes.
First, Let them cool while still in the water bath. Then, transfer them to a wired rack. Place them later in the fridge for a couple of hours. Remove from the fridge
ten minutes before serving. Top with fruit or whipped cream.