Is there anything more quintessentially British than a good mug of tea? The first thing I do when I have friends round is to put the kettle on and some of my favourite things – afternoon tea, a good catch up over tea and cake or cosy nights in with tea and biscuits in front of the TV all revolve around it.
Much as I love coffee, hot chocolate and other hot drinks, when I’m eating sweet stuff I feel like nothing goes better than a steaming hot mug of tea, and whilst I know people who aren’t coffee drinkers I honestly don’t know anyone that doesn’t love a good old brew!
I was recently sent some teas from the English Tea Shop to try. Along with the tea they sent a cute mug, warm fluffy slippers and a hot water bottle, saying ‘as the evenings begin to draw in and thoughts turn to cosy nights at home, it’s time to restock the cupboards with the classic blends loved by all’ and I couldn’t agree more. I’m a grandma at the best of times, but don’t tell me that when it’s a cold, dark and rainy evening you don’t get excited about putting your PJs on and snuggling up on the sofa with a mug of tea and all the snacks!? Anyone who knows me will know I’m an absolute snack fiend – and a cup of tea is the perfect accompaniment to the piles of snacks and dessert bowls I go through each evening – these are just from the last few days!
I don’t care what anyone says, a cup of tea is not a cup of tea! Firstly (and I frequently moan about this!!) – the water. As a Northerner at heart, I find that the hard, limescale-filled Southern water just does not make as good a cup of tea as Northern water! Also how long the tea bag is left to brew (no one likes a weak tea!), how much milk to add (got to achieve the perfect colour!) and whether you add the sugar and the milk before or after you add the boiling water (I’m sorry, I just can’t get on board with adding it before!!). Finally, and obviously the most important factor of them all – the quality of the tea itself!
Founded in 2010, English Tea Shop is a premium speciality tea company based in the UK. Working with the finest Organic and Fairtrade farmers, blenders and producers from all over the world, English Tea Shop produces a diverse range of organic teas, from the true classics to the more unusual and unique blends of quality tea. Using age-old practises and quality tea leaves, they create a quality tea coming from the heart of Sri Lanka and as a company they are built on sustainable and ethical values, with employee and farmer welfare at their core.
Firstly how beautiful is the packaging!? Since they’re stocked in Selfridges I expected nothing less than the pretty colourful boxes that I’d seen there but it still felt a lot more exciting to be drinking tea packed up in boxes beautiful enough to give away as gifts!
Dedicated to bringing the nation the finest cuppa possible, English Tea Shop’s Master Blender, Sampath Amarasena shared his guide to creating the perfect brew:
Step 1: Fill the kettle with fresh water – use filtered if you can
Step 2: Place 2 tea bags in a tea pot, or 1 in a mug
Step 3: Pour freshly boiled water over tea bags
Step 4: Leave to steep for 3 – 5 minutes
Step 5: Pour desired quantity of milk. Milk ALWAYS goes in second (to anyone who I’ve debated this with in the past, I hate to say I told you so….)
To optimise flavour, leave to brew for at least 5 minutes
I have to admit that I’m definitely guilty of rushing the tea-making process! I’ll often squeeze the tea bag or bash the spoon against it in an attempt to get it to brew faster but I’d definitely say that leaving it to brew for longer really enhances the flavour. Their English Breakfast tea has a beautifully strong, full-bodied flavour and their blend of Earl Grey encompasses the finest Ceylon black tea with aromas of fresh Bergamot, giving a more aromatic and refined, almost citrus flavour.
I think they’d make beautiful gifts too – as Brits we’re known for our tea drinking habits so if I had to give a present to anyone, from here or abroad I’d definitely look to the English Tea Shop. I’ve seen them stocked in Selfridges, and you can always rely on Selfridges to stock the most beautiful, high quality products. As well as the classics I tried they have every other blend of tea under the sun, ranging from Green Sencha, Super Berries and Chai to iced teas and herbal wellness teas sold in boxes, canisters and even tins for an extra special gift.
So the only question that remains (and divides us all!) is.. are you an English Breakfast or an Earl Grey person!?
Link to their website: http://www.etsteas.co.uk