A study of sweetness - sugar 101

Published on Sep 27, 2017

Category: sugar, tea time

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When it comes to tea, there are all sorts of preferences: to add milk or not? Do we add it first or last? Sugar or honey? Or to add something sweet at all for that matter?

Though all of these questions are equally debated, we wanted to do a spotlight on sugar, as there are so many sweet possibilities within that category alone! Sloane’s founder Hoda was first introduced to the beautiful world of specialty sugars during her studies in perfumery when staying in the South of France, and has held an interest in collecting them ever since.

These sparkling creations come in all shapes and sizes, often with flavours infused or hardened to encase delicate florals within. Often candied florals are thought of as purely decorative, but adding a bloom or two to your favourite cup can impart a delicate floral sweetness, intensifying the floral presence of certain teas. Other more traditional sugars are meant to sweeten without adding an additional layer of flavour, though some naturally have a subtle flavour of their own thanks to specific processing methods.

Though we can’t cover every single type of sugar since the possibilities are almost endless, we’ve touched upon some of our Sloane favourites below:

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White Sugar vs Cane Sugar

Granulated sugar, also referred to as white sugar or table sugar, comes from sugarcane or sugar beets whereas cane sugar is produced solely from sugarcane and is minimally processed. It has a slightly larger texture and deeper colour. Variations in refining of cane sugar can create a variety of different consistencies and flavours, and some lighter coloured sugars are even bleached with animal bone char!

Demerara and Turbinado Sugars

These minimally refined cane sugars come in shades of light caramel and can resemble brown sugar. This allows them to retain their subtle molasses flavour, perfect for adding to heartier cups of tea like Bold Breakfast.

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Sugar Cubes

An innovation of the 19th century, the sugar cube refined tea time in Europe. Before this time sugar was purchased in the form of a hardened cone - a chisel and hammer would then be used to break off the desired amounts along with something called a nipper, an iron plier-like tool. 

By grating, dampening, pressing and drying sugar into single servings, it can be formed into various shapes. Though originally most sugar cubes were, well, cube shaped, you can now find them pressed into all sorts of forms and colours… some are even made to rest right on the side of your cup! 

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Candied Flowers

Direct from the South of France, our crystallized flowers (sold on the Sloane site here) are hand-crafted edible works of art. Both our Rococo Roses and Sweet Violetta's (the pink and purple sparkling flowers shown below) are meant as sugar complements to our teas, enhancing the floral notes in specific blends, or to be enjoyed as a sweet treat on their own. We like to call them the “caviar of sugar”. Keep scrolling to see candied Lilac, Lavender, Violet pearls and even Coriander seed!  

The flowers themselves are harvested during the winter season and at the beginning of spring. They then undergo a cleaning process whereby the stems are removed and the flowers are gently rinsed and withered to reduce the moisture content. Once dried, the flowers are immersed in a proprietary sugar syrup and so begins the magic! Upon removal of their sugar bath the flowers are gently placed on drying racks until all moisture is removed.

You may savour the sweet flavour of our Sweet Violetta's or Rococo Roses by placing a single piece on the inside of your cheek while sipping your selected tea, and allowing the heat of the tea liquor to slowly dissolve the sugar, sip by sip, extracting its sweetness. If you prefer a bolder flavour, indulge in the full sweetness of the crystallized violet all at once, or add a couple flowers directly to your teacup!

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