Imagine a beautiful garden with different courtyards, buildings dripping with wisteria, ducklings swimming in pools and even a few flamingoes and plenty of places to lounge. If I were to tell you that this was 100 feet up in the air from busy Kensington High Street atop a building would you believe me?
How do you take your cuppa tea?
There have been reports that as a nation we are drinking less tea – our passion for coffee has taken over. National Tea Day brought together tea purveyors to present their products.
No Caffeine Please
There were plenty of “herbal teas” or teas that were made with ingredients other than “real tea”. Can’t sleep? Feeling overwrought? Need to feel more calm? Is it Winter or Spring? There appeared to be a tea devised just for that feeling or occasion. I found the flavours of some of these teas a challenge. Really not something I’d go back to. On the other hand, Clipper’s fruity infusions are full of flavour. I am a big fan of their Very Berry, but was pleased to discover others including lemon, ginger and pepper. Of course Clipper also have a range of black and green teas.
The display of Basilur teas was admired by everyone. I’d never seen such a beautiful display of tea caddies of many hues and shapes and were very covetable. The teas are sourced in Sri Lanka and cost from a very reasonable £5.
It’s all Green to me
There are many claims as to green tea’s effectiveness in everything from reducing cholesterol or helping beat cancer. The results are inconclusive but it doesn’t detract from being a refreshing brew.
To some, green tea is an acquired taste. Both PG Tips and Clearspring aim to make it more palatable. Clearspring offer a matcha powder which can be used with cold water (very useful). I tried the apple flavour, which I found very refreshing. PG Tip’s approach is to produce mild, approachable brews. Green tea for the terrified perhaps? In addition to green tea, they had a special “Make me happy” tea. Astonishingly this mango flavoured tea turned out to be based on Rooibos – not a hint of that flavour in sight.
There are many, many coffee subscriptions available, so why not tea? Bruu tea is the latest company to offer tea by subscription. It delivers “gourmet tea” at a schedule of your choice, once a month, every 3 or 6 months. Their selection will include, black, green, rooibos and fruit or herbal teas. Cleverly packed it will fit through your letter box.
Demand for organic tea grows and grows and more and more plantations are turning to organic production. Growers have been faced with many challenges in producing fine tasting teas when turning away from conventional growing using pesticides.
Pure Teas’ selection of teas are all organic and are sourced world wide. I met their charismatic tea blender who explained that even in their tea bags, the tea is rolled and therefore of much higher quality. I was very taken by the Earl Grey Tea and the Black Tea flavoured with berries – very summery.
Jing Teas focus on teas that reflect the place where they are grown, their terroir. They work with small local growers and regularly offer teas that are not normally found on the domestic market including some organic teas.
A little something with your tea?
How about vodka? Yes really. A surprisingly refreshing range of drinks from Percy’s Teas really hits the spot on a warm day.
The popularity of afternoon tea just grows and grows. You can be whisked back to the Victorian era (Queen Vic was visiting from Aunt Martha’s Victorian Tea Experience in the Forest of Dean) or you get cake inspiration from Mich Turner – this is a skinny cake from her new book Have your Cake and Eat It!
And finally, these are guaranteed to make you smile. Mug huggers. These extremely buttery shortbread gingerbread men and women will brighten up your day.
Find out more
There are two fascinating episodes of the BBC Radio 4 Food programme on Tea from a Coffee Drinkers perspective. Worth a listen!