Hoogly Blogs

THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME

THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME

A new year, a new you—and the same old restrictions. It’s fair to say that the beginning of 2021 has been especially challenging, compounding the usual dreariness of winter with continued curbs on our social freedoms. A great deal of us continue to adapt to new circumstances and new pressures, one of which is the adjustment to working from home. Although lots of people have already made this change, there will be many who are just starting, thinking about starting, or who wish to improve the way they operate and function within the confines of their homes. With this in mind, we at Hoogly would like to offer a few hints and tips for staying at the top of your professional game in these uncertain and stressful times.

 

For all your working from home needs please also check out www.thewfhzone.co.uk

 

  1. Create a work space: Designate a location where you will be comfortable, uninterrupted (where possible!) and content. Sit and be still in this place for a while, sending a clear signal to your grey matter that it’s time to focus and concentrate. When you’re no longer working, keep away from this area, and resist the urge to ‘check in.’
  2. Get Moving: If you’re not a fan of being restricted to one location, then pick a few other quiet locations and designate them as office space. Allot yourself a certain amount of time in each space and then change location. This will help your muscles and posture, and also provide a neat way to organise and breakdown your tasks, allowing you to manage your time.
  3. Schedule: It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece, but it’s a great idea to write or type a schedule for the day, giving yourself clear objectives and timeframes for each task based on priorities and importance. This will streamline your working day. Within your schedule, try to factor in what and when you will eat. If you can, stick to the same time each day as routine is as important for your body as it is for your mind.
  4. Break it up! One of the pitfalls of working from home is the tendency to make yourself available at every minute of the day. But in order to maximise the quality and quantity of your output, you must give yourself the opportunity to relax and recharge. Get away from your screen, go somewhere else, have a cup of delicious Hoogly tea—and enforce this break strictly. Even five or ten minutes each hour will be beneficial for your productivity.
  5. Check in: While there are a lot of plus sides to working from home (cheerio, commute!) it can also, for obvious reasons, be more isolating. Ensure you carve out time to get in touch with friends and family via video chat in order to get face-to-face human interaction, and if you’re struggling, don’t be afraid to talk about how the experience is affecting you to your colleagues and boss. A lot of people are in the same boat and it’s very helpful to get different perspectives, input and advice! If it suits the others, build your video calls or virtual coffee breaks into your schedule.
  6. Boundaries: As with all areas of life, it’s important to create and curate your boundaries, especially if you share your house with others—including children! Working from home is flexible, but it also has a plethora of distractions, so be sure to discuss your needs with everyone before you get started. Gently remind others that you will need quiet and focus, share your schedule with them so everyone is on board, and remember to enforce your boundaries at work where possible. Once you’ve logged off, stay logged off! You’ve worked hard, now enjoy your freedom!
  7. Be Kind to Yourself: It won’t all be plain sailing. This is an unusual and often disorienting situation, and it’s perfectly normal to find adjustment tricky. It’s important to acknowledge that your productivity might not be the same as before, and that any goals you create must be realistic and achievable. The most important thing is to look after yourself, and everything else may just take care of itself!

 

And if you’re looking for a spectacular way to reward yourself for a completed task, or at the end of a hard day’s work, then look no further than Hoogly’s latest tea creation: Blueberry Muffin Rooibos! This caffeine-free treat combines the unique taste of Rooibos with an infusion of sweet tones, making it the perfect brew for any time of the day or night! Once you inhale the sensational scent and take your first sip, you’ll wonder where muffin tea has been all your life! You’re welcome!!!

 

That’s it for now, Hoogly fans. We hope you all remain safe and well, and we wish you all the best for the new year!

 

Written by Chris Bedford

 

www.hooglytea.com

www.thewfhzone.co.uk

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TAKE MY WORD FOR IT

TAKE MY WORD FOR IT

I’ve always loved words. The sound of them. The shape of them. The way they can be both familiar and exotic. The way they can bring comfort but also consistently surprise, bewilder and entertain. Words are alive. Like us, and in their own way, they are organic and evolve over time, sometimes changing meaning, sometimes created out of apparent nothingness like the Big Bang, sometimes changing for very specific and progressive reasons. Words are a reflection of our societies and our lives. Our dictionaries are currently awash with words spawned from technology, often abbreviated as a nod to our fast-paced world: App, I-Pad, Hashtag, Vlog. Some of these words have shown the abovementioned evolution from their original or previous meaning: Wireless, text, memory, data, glitch, hack… If technology and science is our new religion, words of the past have reflected our foundation in the ancient and foundational beliefs: shrine, faith, dogma. Other words have developed from our propensity for organised violence and war: camouflage, torpedo, manoeuvre. And from war to crime: Alibi, culprit, ransack. And from destruction to the nurturing and noble art of medicine: Cataract, germ, inoculate—and one we’re sadly all too familiar with—virus.

I’m now going to gather together some of my favourite words—words that bring me pleasure, comfort or solace—and discuss the origin of each. It’s a really lovely, relaxing exercise for the mind, and I highly recommend giving it some time and thought yourselves. Even though, as discussed, words can mutate over time, the building blocks will always be there, a colossal and dynamic constant, like the walls of some ancient or fantasy city on a hill. Behind those walls we can feel safe. From their towers, we can observe the stories and achievements of our forebears, and build ever upwards towards a brighter future.

 

  • Silhouette. This magnificent word has a hint of poetry about it, touching as it does on light and dark, whilst also straddling the boundary between the sinister and the beautiful. The word comes from a name: Etienne de Silhouette, an 18th century French author and politician. Why he should lend his name to the dark outline of something against a bright background remains in dispute. Some accounts connect the word to his policies as Controller General, others to his brevity in the role. One French dictionary claimed he decorated the walls of his chateau with outline portraits. We shall probably never discover the truth, adding a suitable shade of mystery.
  • Nonchalant. Another French word—meaning literally ‘not being concerned.’ The laid-back, couldn’t-give-a-damn, aloof attitude was one I aspired to as a young man, but always failed to achieve. It was the cool kid in school. The movie star in sunglasses. It was an especially desirable trait to have, I remember, in close proximity to those I was interested in dating—but instead I always seemed to come across as stuttering, oafish and embarrassing. I can be nonchalant about those failures now, of course. It’s only taken twenty years to forget…
  • Diddle. This is one of those words that sounds funny and silly but has rather unpleasant meaning. The current version--to ‘cheat or swindle--’came into use soon after Irish dramatist James Kenney’s play ‘Raising the Wind’ (1803) in which character Jeremy Diddler repeatedly borrows and fails to repay money, and is most likely attributed to the impact of this character.
  • Eccentric.  A word that always puts a smile on my face, creating surreal visions of people sitting in their underpants and a top-hat on a sofa in their front garden. There are greater and lesser displays of eccentricity, of course, and I imagine most of us have someone in the family who displays such tendencies with great regularity. The word means ‘unconventional or slightly strange,’ but it started off as an astronomical term meaning ‘a circle or orbit not having the earth precisely in its centre.’ From the Greek ekkentros, from ek ‘out of’ and kentron ‘centre.’
  • Tantalize. That wonderful-but-just-out-of-reach dream or object. It comes from Greek Mythology and King Tantalus, who killed his son Pelops and fed him to the gods in a stew. In reparation, Tantalus was made to stand for eternity up to his chin in water that receded when he tried to take a sip, and under fruit that retreated when he reached for it. Lesson learned, I would expect.

 

From everyone at Hoogly, thank you for all your support in this crazy, unprecedented year. We hope you have a wonderful, calm and safe Christmas and very happy New Year. Until next time, keep calm and put the kettle on!

written by Chris Bedford

www.hooglytea.com

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THE THRILL OF THE CHILL

THE THRILL OF THE CHILL

Greetings Hoogly fans! With the world continuing to be upside down, I expect we’re all finding things tough at the minute. At Hoogly, we’re always looking for ways to relax, unwind and put a smile back on our faces. With this in mind we’ve been scouring the web to find the Ultimate Chill List: a comprehensive compendium of mindful activities that will help you find balance, tranquillity and calm in your day-to-day life. You may find that some of your favourites have made it onto this list, which means you’re ahead of the game. If not, you may just find something new to help keep you rolling on through the lockdown and beyond!

 

  1. Write something: Putting pen to paper can be deeply cathartic. Write down your worries, your thoughts, your ideas. Jot down the things you love and appreciate. Write about the past and your favourite memories. Write about what you’re looking forward to in the future. Pay attention to the way the pen feels in your hand. Listen to the scrape of the nib on the paper. Go back later and look at what you have written later and see if you feel the same way. 

 

  1. Take a hike! Get out and about in nature. Try starting early when the air is fresh and the birds and other animals are out in force. Slow down and observe everything around you: the colours, the birdsong, the smell of the bark, grass and wet pavement. Enjoy the crunch of leaves under your feet. Stand and watch a dog chasing a ball. Or a bird sculling through the air above you. A squirrel scampering across a field. Inhale deeply through your nose and exhale through your mouth as you travel. Savour the moment.

 

  1. Have a contrast shower. OK, this might not be for everyone, but repeating cycles of hot then cold showers can be extremely relaxing for your mind and body, and fitness professionals and athletes recommend this procedure to produce relief for muscle fatigue and soreness! A great way to start the day! Screaming permitted…

 

  1. Make a song or dance of it…Put on your favourite playlist, make some space and dance like no-one is watching. Don’t focus on form or technique, just let it all hang out. Sing along at the top of your voice (wall thickness permitting) and power out those ballads from deep inside your chest. Movement, rhythm and song are wonderful ways to relax the mind, body and soul.

 

  1. Watch your fave childhood cartoons: Make a list of the shows that brought you joy, excitement and laughter—then hunt them down on YouTube or streaming channels. Connect with your inner child and remember how you felt as you watched them back in the day. For me, it’s Dogtanion and the Three Muskahounds; Thundercats and Super Ted. What’s yours??

 

  1. Ditch the Tech: Take a day off from all your devices. It’s quite a tricky one, this—but with a bit of determination it’s possible, and the rewards are huge. There’s a very strong chance you will feel more relaxed, have greater energy, attain more focus, and observe a big drop in stress.

 

  1. Colour it in! Adult colouring has become hugely popular over the last few years, and with good reason. The act of focussing on the intricate designs, staying within the lines and creating something beautiful is a great way to take your mind off things that are bothering you, and the gentle repetition is an excellent way to relax and bring some mindfulness into your life!

 

  1. Yoga! As an active meditation, Yoga is a wonderful way to reduce stress and lower your blood pressure and heart rate. Combining physical poses, controlled breathing and relaxation, yoga is a healthy, calming and enjoyable way to chill out—and can be done in the comfort of your own home with a free YouTube beginner’s video.

 

  1. Knit! Once you’ve picked up this amazing hobby, it can be as relaxing as meditation. Once you’ve mastered the skill, muscle memory will take over and you can zone out and let all that tension and anxiety dissipate. Also, you can create yourself some super-cosy warm socks for those Hoogly nights in front of the fire!

 

  1. Drink tea! We’ve saved the best for last, of course! Having a cuppa is a wonderful way to slow down and reset. Take your time, experiment with new flavours, enjoy the warmth as it passes through your body, and then put the kettle on and do it all again! At Hoogly, you can choose from a huge range of sumptuous and scent-rich brews that will be the perfect accompaniment to your mindful route. Relax, unwind and discover ancient and modern tastes that will put a thrill in your chill!

 

Until next time, take care of yourself, and we’ll see you on the other side!

Written by Chris Bedford

www.hooglytea.com

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A SPECIAL DELIVERY

A SPECIAL DELIVERY

The doorbell rang. Sarah looked up from her book. She wasn’t expecting anyone, and no deliveries were scheduled. Brady, her white and brown spaniel, wagged his tail at the possibility of guests and treats, but Sarah was less enthusiastic. Perhaps it was one of the neighbours asking for a favour, or maybe some kind of charity agent, or possibly even kids from the nearby school playing pranks. She got up wearily and looked out of the living room window. It was a cold, grey October afternoon, with dry bronze leaves flittering and drifting in the breeze, and silvery puddles on the roads. Some birds had delivered a cluster strike of white poo on her car windscreen and bonnet, which worsened her bad mood, and as she opened the door, she noticed the neighbour’s cat—as if driven by some secret competition with the birds—had done its business on her front drive. That’s just wonderful….

Nobody was there.

Looking down, she spotted a small, square cardboard parcel, about thirty centimetres high and wide. She knelt to inspect it. There was no label or barcode. No address. No markings at all. She turned it over in her hands a few times. It was light and made no sound when she rotated it.

Brady came out and sniffed the parcel. Which was no help at all, because Brady had failed his police sniffer training, being massively uninterested in scenting out drugs and explosives, preferring instead to focus solely on biscuits and soggy tennis balls. At least Sarah knew that the box contained neither of these items, because Brady lost interest in a matter of seconds and scrambled away.

Sarah shrugged and brought the parcel inside. She figured it was a mistake, so she left it in the porch, deciding that it’s rightful owner would come back and claim it at some point. The she returned to the sofa and didn’t give the package a second thought.

Later that night, as she was brushing her teeth, Sarah heard a sound. At first, she couldn’t make out what it was, only that it was coming from downstairs, and that it sounded somewhat like humming.

She set her brush down and listened.

Heard nothing.

She moved closer to the stairs.

Still nothing.

“Brady? Is that you?”

The dog didn’t reply.

Sarah shook her head and turned away.

Hoooo….’

She stopped in her tracks, a shard of ice in her chest.

What was that?

‘Hoooo…’

It sounded like a whimper. A mournful wail. Somewhere between the drone of a mosquito and an electrical appliance running low on battery.

“Pipes,” she said out loud, because she felt like saying something to fill the space, and because that’s what her dad always said when there were strange noises in the house. “Pipes…or your mother snoring.”

It didn’t sound like either of those things, and she felt as though she should investigate. Maintenance of this place was her responsibility now. If something was faulty, she needed to fix it.

“Brady? Come here boy. Come and help.”

Brady didn’t come.

There was no sound. No movement.

“Puppy? Where are you?”

No answer.

Moving slowly, she made her way downstairs. She turned all of the lights on as she went.

“Brady?”

Hoooo…’

Louder this time. Coming from the near the front door. With her skin pricking with goosebumps, Sarah crept towards the noise.

She opened the door to the porch.

Saw Brady sitting bolt upright in front of the package, his head tilted to one side, his silhouette dead still.

“What are you doing, dog?” Sarah said.

Brady didn’t turn around.

Sarah took a step closer. Put a hand on the dog’s collar.

Brady jumped in the air and squealed. It was as if she’d jabbed him with a taser.

Sarah’s heart nearly exploded.

“Bloody hell, Brady!” she snapped, and the dog seemed to notice her for the first time, thrusting himself against her legs and licking her hands.

“What have you been doing down here?”

Brady leapt up into Sarah’s arms and made himself small. Caught by surprise by the dog’s fear, Sarah ruffled the pup’s neck and whispered comforts to him. Then she looked down at the parcel. The air around her was cold. Even with the light on behind her, the corner where the parcel sat was threaded with gloom. Sarah dropped Brady in the living room and went back to pick up the box. She opened the front door and placed the parcel outside. The weather forecast had predicted rain, but that was too bad. The box didn’t have her name on it. It wasn’t hers. Who cares?

Closing the door firmly, she raced Brady back upstairs and settled down into the warmth of her bed. Brady looked at her with big, wet Disney eyes.

“Come on then: you too…”

Brady grinned and jumped onto the bed, curling himself into a ball beside her.

Sarah listened to some podcasts and music for an hour until her heart stopped jackhammering and her eyes got heavy. Then she went to sleep to the sound of Brady’s rhythmic breathing.

 

When she opened her eyes, the red digital numbers on her clock read 3:03am. She sat up and noticed right away that she was shivering. She pulled the duvet around her but it made no difference. She could see her breath form in misty puffs in front of her face. Had she left a window open? She was sure she had not.

She switched on the bedroom light.

Brady was gone.

Nothing unusual there, however. He often slinked back to his own bed, tired of Sarah’s flailing arms and general fidgeting, and wary of the sharp old springs in Sarah’s ancient mattress.

She wanted to get up and seek out the source of the draught, but she was too damn cold. It was as though she’d parachuted naked into the middle of some Arctic expanse. She checked her phone. The temperature readout said sixteen degrees. Which couldn’t be right. Sixteen was less than ideal, but a long way from this ice blizzard.

‘Hooooo…’

There it was again. This time it was more urgent. It didn’t sound focussed or pinpointed. It was all around her.

It was everywhere.

‘Hooooo…’
“Pipes,” Sarah said again—because that had to be the cause. Especially now the heating was gone.

Come on. You can do this. Just go and check the dial. It’s not that far…

One, two, three…

She tore out of bed, pulling open the wardrobe and putting on her thickest fleece and jogging bottoms. Then she put on another two layers, top and bottom, plus three pairs of socks.

‘Hooooo…’

“Alright! I get it!”

A plumber call-out was going cost a lot of money. She hoped the damage wasn’t too bad. Frozen pipes were no joke. She guessed Christmas was going to be a charity shop affair this year.

‘Hooooo…’

Behind her. In front of her. Above her.

Below her.

‘Hooooo…’

Brady started yapping. Not helpful.

Sarah opened the airing cupboard and placed a hand on the emersion heater.

Red hot…

The pipes were warm too. The dial looked healthy, with no flashing lights, alarm bells or faults.

‘Hooooo…’

What the heck?

Brady kept barking. Insistent, staccato ruffs, cutting into her cold ears.

‘Hooooo…’

Sarah went downstairs. The sound was getting stronger. It was coming from the front door.

‘Hooooo…’

Breathing heavily, and with a cold sweat slicking her back, Sarah reached out towards the porch door with trembling hands.

She opened up.

Then she jumped back, catching her hip on the door handle, sending a bolt of pain arrowing up her side.

The parcel was there, on the mat, neatly lined up, taunting her.

Singing at her…

‘Hooooo…’

‘Hooooo…’

How had it got back inside?

Who had put it there?

Why had they put it there?

Sarah took out her phone and hovered her finger over the number 9.

All of a sudden, Brady stopped barking.

A thick silence draped over the house.

Sarah’s phone glowed, her thumb twitching, the device wobbling in her weak grip.

Then something touched her shoulder.

Something heavy.

A hand.

Gnarled fingers dug into her skin. Long nails pressed against her flesh.

Sarah turned around

…and screamed.

 

Happy Halloween everyone!!!!

Sarah’s parcel didn’t turn out so well for her…but that shouldn’t put you off sending someone an amazing gift this Christmas—the Hoooo…gly gift of tea! If you’re stuck for a gift idea for your friends and family this year, look no further than our luxurious and eclectic range of Hygge-inspired brews! Even those hard-to-buy-for people will be blown away by the novelty of receiving an unusual and thoughtfully chosen prezzie from our delightfully Danish collection, and they will discover a gift that keeps on giving—delicious treats that smell as good as they taste, and offer a calming, mindful way to enjoy one of life’s simple pleasures.

As well as our individual teas, we offer stunning collection sets that are ideal for gifting. How about our large luxury wooden box, handmade in the UK, divided into six compartments and housing 60 individually wrapped tea pyramids and seven different blends?! This elegant and stylish gift set will look lovely in any setting, and can be refilled or repurposed as required!

If you want something even more Hoogly, how about our amazing range of hand-crafted mini hot water bottles? There is nothing that says Hygge more than curling up on the sofa with fluffy socks, a blanket and low lamplight, and our gorgeous bottles—made from luxury fabrics—are the ideal accompaniment to a cosy night in. With seven colours to choose from, there’s something for everyone!

Last, but not least, how about treating your friends and relatives to one of our gorgeous Hoogly tea pots?! Our stunning glass and silver design comes with a removable filter and is perfectly proportioned for one person. Add two teaspoons of our loose-leaf creations—or a single tea pyramid—then sit back, relax and let the Hoogly magic happen! The elegant tea pot is dishwasher safe and will become a stylish part of any kitchen collection!

So that’s it for now, Hoogly lovers! Have a wonderful Halloween and Christmas. Stay safe and drink lots and lots of tea!

Written by Chris Bedford, 

www.hooglytea.com

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Wabi-Sabi

Wabi-Sabi

Greetings Hoogly fans! I hope you are all safe and well. While we are still under the long shadow of the pandemic, I thought I’d share something I’d discovered over the last month that made me sit up and pay attention; something that offered a well-timed shift in perspective, and simply put a smile on my face. As with our company’s beloved Hygge ethos, the Japanese concept of Wabi-sabi provides an inspiring and philosophical way of looking at the world, and—just like Hygge—offers a way of reducing stress and feeling better, even in difficult circumstances.

In essence, the ancient Japanese philosophy of Wabi-sabi seeks to counter the world’s obsession with perfection, trends and the purchase of new and fancy items. It views imperfection as meaningful and valid, and in its own way, beautiful. It offers a way to navigate the unpredictability of life by embracing the idea that all things pass, that what we have now is truly worthwhile, even if it is damaged or worn, as long as we love it, and appreciate it.

Wabi-sabi is a cracked and re-glued vase. It’s a misshapen, homegrown fruit or vegetable. It’s a Lego construction built from a box of leftover pieces. It’s an old floor with scuff marks that echo a life well-lived. It’s a button wonkily re-sewn on an old jacket. It asks us to appreciate simplicity, modesty and imperfection in all its guises. By learning to be content with our lot without yearning for more, we can select what we truly love and need, offering a cheery antidote to a materialistic, mass-produced society.

Wabi-Sabi can help us in our everyday lives, too. It allows us to pause and take a mindful step back from the relentless pursuit of perfection, offering the opportunity to count our blessings and rejoice in the way things are rather than the way they could be. It does not diminish or reject the complexity of life and its trials, but chooses to see life as temporary, incomplete and imperfect. A great example is the Japanese art of kintsugi, in which cracked pottery is filled with gold-dusted lacquer to highlight its age and imperfection rather than concealing it.

By utilizing seven Zen aesthetic principles, including Kanso: simplicity, Shibumi: beauty in the understated and Shizen: Naturalness without pretension, Wabi-sabi can also be used to help curate and shape your home. By following the principle of less-is-more, Wabi-sabi seeks to reduce consumption and lessen the strain on our planet. It allows us to appreciate the natural world around us and encourages us to incorporate long-lasting options like wood, steel and stone into open, spacey decors. If you can’t use these natural materials, then you can always take inspiration from nature in your choice of colours, suiting your mood and personality, and bringing a rustic, humble aesthetic into your life that will enable you to treasure the space around you, and imbibe its transience. By getting rid of unloved or unused items, you allow your most cherished items to flourish and shine, and you increase the tranquillity of your surroundings.

Hoogly fans will be delighted to learn that Wabi-Sabi has roots in a Japanese tea ceremony introduced by Zen monk Murata Shukō, who incorporated simple, plain and imperfect Japanese pottery and utensils into the original Chinese ceremony that was traditionally luxurious and lavish, in order to help guests better appreciate what was in front of them. Whereas guests had previously drunk tea and admired the full moon; Shukō wished them to appreciate a half-moon, or a moon covered by clouds. Shukō did not entirely replace the extravagance of the traditional ceremonies, choosing instead for coexistence, but he is credited as being the founder of the more minimalist Wabi-cha ceremony, which then led to Wabi-sabi.

And to celebrate Wabi-sabi, as well as Hygge, why not indulge in one of our most delicious brews, Apple Strudel, which combines Chinese and Japanese green teas, as well as a gorgeous combination of spices, fruit and petals, giving you a taste of the ancient, as well as a cheeky slice of Danish delight!

Until next time, stay safe, look after each other and try a little Wabi-sabi in your life!

 Written by Chris Bedford

www.hooglytea.com

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Book Club

Book Club

It’s that time again! We’re here to help you relax and unwind in authentic Hoogly fashion with our top reading recommendations for the summer and autumn! After the lockdown pause, books are well and truly back in our lives again, and there’s even more to come, with August bringing a wealth of new publishing, plumped up by many titles which were delayed earlier in the year. It’s a very exciting time to be a book lover, people!

First up: we have ‘The Giver of Stars’ by Jojo Moyes. You may be familiar with Jojo’s novel ‘Me Before You’, which was a huge best-seller, and went on to become a hit Hollywood movie of the same name. Her latest book is a wonderful, warm-hearted story about friendship and the power of books. Set in Kentucky during the Great Depression, the book tracks five women across the dust bowls and prairies of America as they encounter hardship and oppression, and tells of their journey to overcome everything by bringing a travelling library of books to those who need them most. With Jojo’s trademark wit and wisdom, as well as beautiful descriptions of Kentucky, this is an absolute must-read! As an accompaniment to this great novel, we recommend our indulgent Luxury Hot Cocoa: a sweet and creamy delight that you will crave over and over again, and just like Jojo’s book, you will feel the need to tell all your friends about it!

Our second pick is Bill Bryson’s ‘The Body.’ Bryson has proved time and again that he is the perfect travel companion, taking us all over the world in his journals, allowing us to see and experience people and places we had never seen before, and offering a window into the lives of others with his trademark sense of humour and fun. This time, Bryson is taking us on a tour of our own bodies, neatly following up from his amazing ‘A Short History of Nearly Everything,’ which laid out the story of science in a zippy, fun and accessible style. Now we have the opportunity to learn about the miracle of our physical and neurological makeup, encountering amazing facts and astonishing stories about how our bodies function and possess the remarkable ability to heal themselves. This is truly a book for anyone! To accompany this great read, we recommend naturally caffeine-free Sweet Orange Rooibos: a delicious sip of sunshine from South Africa, with a lively, zesty natural citrus flavour, and a playful hint of strawberry. Guaranteed to put a smile on your face!

Our final pick is for the little ones in your life. ‘Look Up!’ by Nathan Bryon and Dapo Adeola is a joyous and life-affirming new picture book about loveable Rocket, a space-obsessed girl who wishes everyone was excited as she was about the upcoming meteor shower! If she’s going to be the greatest astronaut, star-catcher and space traveller that has ever lived, she’ll need to convince her big brother Jamal to stop looking down at his phone and start LOOKING UP at the stars. Bursting with fun, energy and eye-popping illustrations, this amazing story will reignite your desire (in true Hoogly fashion) to switch off those screens and switch on to the world around us! And how about something sweet and delicious to complement such a fun-filled story? Try Raspberry, Liquorice & Lavendar black tea, a delightful blend of sharp raspberries and super-sweet liquorice root, sprinkled with lavender flowers for a fresh, floral twist! This is a great summer beverage, equally tasty as an ice lolly, but can be enjoyed at any time of the year, whether you’re reading, relaxing, chilling with friends, or just having some Hoogly time around the house!

If you enjoyed these books, pop into your local Waterstones for some great new recommendations, and remember to flip the kettle on as soon as you’re home—there’s so many different Hygge-inspired brews to try, you’ll never run out of gorgeous-scented, taste-tastic choices!

Written by Chris Bedford

www.hooglytea.com

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COME DINE WITH ME

COME DINE WITH ME

Greetings Hoogly fans! I hope everyone is doing well. It’s great to see the country creeping back into some sort of normality after such a long and difficult few months. While there still seems a fair way to go in this surreal and unprecedented journey, we can at least begin to do some of the things that have been denied to us during lockdown, including eating out! This is a favourite pastime of mine; I love everything about the experience of dining away from home. I especially enjoy the simple pleasure of not having to cook my meal: this is an underestimated joy, and is matched only by the delight of avoiding the washing up. These factors most easily explain why I spend far too much time (and money) in restaurants and pubs—but I can’t help it. There’s something magical about it.

Another huge part of the pleasure of eating out, of course, is the sociability. I think this was one of the things I found hardest about lockdown; the inability to meet regularly with friends and family over a table of good food and catch up on gossip, or put the world to rights with far-reaching debates and conversations. The love of cuisine is something that binds us together; and the experience of the restaurant is something that is best when shared. It starts with the perusal of the menu; the giddy anticipation that comes with the wealth of choice; the slight disappointment that your decision must be boiled down to only one selection, and the promise of something sweet to end the meal.

Then comes the wait. The mouth-watering pause between waiter/waitress visitations, and the smell of the kitchen wafting through the room. And then the plate arrives, placed in front of you like a dream, artfully presented or piled high; a glorious, indulgent reason to be cheerful. The first bite is everything: perhaps you go quiet for a moment. Block everything else out. Spend some alone-time with your main course; taking in the flavour, the texture, the delicate acrobatics of your taste-buds as they are caressed by the food. Once you’ve got to grips with the treat in front of you, the conversations can begin again; declaring how delicious your meal is to others as they confirm the quality of their own dish; swapping stories of where inferior or superior versions of the same meal have been experienced in the past, or perhaps tales of cooking the same dish at home with good or bad results. Sometimes things are left unsaid, however. Jealous glances followed by rueful thoughts. I wish I’d chosen what she’s having. I knew I should have ordered chips. Would it be wrong to ask for seconds?

But food aside, as I mentioned earlier, the loveliest part of dining out is being in the company of those you love and cherish, experiencing a joint adventure that keeps us connected and in touch, creating memories that sustain us through the working week, and through the hardships that inevitably arrive at our door. And the most recent global hardship has made the art of eating into a quite different experience, but one that I think will gradually help us move away from the darker months that preceded these. It will take time, of course. There is naturally, and rightly, an undercurrent of caution to getting back into our old habits, but I think a shared love of quality grub, conversation and lack of kitchen chores will eventually become second-nature once again.

And, of course, there is no better way to round off an evening—whether you’ve been at work, out for a meal, or spending the day at home—than flipping on the kettle and settling down with one of our amazingly relaxing Hoogly teas! We have a huge range of brews that represent our cosy, mindful ethos, helping you find that perfect moment of calm in the storm of modern life. The Hoogly range have scents that are as enticing and delicious as their flavours, and will soon find a special place in your daily routine—and maybe even your heart! We’re all about treating yourself to something special, which is why we love having a meal out, and which is why we design all our teas to put you, the customer, first, helping you focus on the simple things in life that bring you joy and calmness.

Our recommendation today is: Baked Apple Chai black tea. This versatile delight is an excellent accompaniment to any occasion and climate, working from a base of mellow Sri Lankan black tea, which overlaps with the dazzling flavour combination of apple, ginger, cinnamon and vanilla pieces. Throw some blackberry and lime leaves into the equation, and you’ve got yourself a luxurious mug of happiness that will put a smile on your face time and again.

So until next time, stay safe, go at your own pace, and love tea!

Written by Chris Bedford, 

www.hooglytea.com

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Summer Sensations!

Summer Sensations!

Greetings Hoogly fans! I hope you are all safe and well. The summer is here and the sun is (mostly) shining, and the world is creeping back to something like ‘normal.’ Now is the time to discover all the ways in which you can make the most of the warmer weather with our spectacular selection of luxury brews, which are the perfect accompaniment to a hot day, whatever your plans!

As you know, Hoogly is all about relaxation, mindfulness and being kind to yourself, and what better way to chill and unwind than sitting outside and enjoying the sunshine, fresh air and all the scents of summer. To make the most of your sunny experience, we heartily recommend one of our latest and greatest brews: Apricot Blossom. This is an elegant combination of Chinese Pai Mu Dan white tea and Sencha green tea, underscored by a refreshing drench of fruity flavours. It’s perfect for an afternoon tea, a picnic, a sunbed sidekick, or even as a cheery reminder of good weather on a classic English rainy day. This charming tea comes in pyramid bags or loose leaf, and makes an ideal gift, putting a smile on the faces of your friends and loved ones, and giving them a treat they can return to time and again.

Another newcomer is the tantalising and tempting Tiramisu black tea, a rich and indulgent pick-me-up that combines coffee beans and cocoa within a body of Sri Lankan black tea and roasted dandelion root. This creamy indulgence is an exhilarating new way to enjoy a classic cup of tea, and absolutely perfect to share with family and friends. Give your taste buds something to exciting to work on this summer, whether you’re serving with a picnic, enjoying at breakfast, or capping off a delicious meal!

Our next newbie is also incredibly versatile, ideal for any occasion or season! Introducing Ginger Biscuit rooibos tea! This is Hoogly’s take on the classic snack: a light, warm and subtly spicy blend of rooibos and ginger that will hit the spot no matter what. This winning blend is a great way to relax at the end of a long day, and equally good as a treat, or an accompaniment to any kind of meal. And, yes, we’ve even tried it as a cheeky caffeine-free midnight cuppa, and it does the trick! Just don’t tell anyone your secret!

Summer is not summer, of course, without a lolly—and our brews are perfect for frozen family fun! We recommend Sweet Orange Rooibos for your icy delight—it’s bursting with South Africa’s unique rooibos taste, and alive with juicy, zesty citrus flavours and a playful hint of strawberry! Simply brew the bags for twice as long as usual, pour the contents into a mould of your preference, and leave in the freezer overnight. When you wake up, you’ll have a sensationally sweet summer treat for all the family!

If lollies aren’t your thing, then give a Hoogly ice tea a go! Place two teabags of your choice in a heat-proof pitcher, pour in four cups of boiling water, and leave for around five minutes. Then remove the teabags, sweeten, add slices of fruit for a lush twist, and pour in five or six cups of ice until they melt. Allow everything to settle and then whack it in the fridge until the sun gets too hot to handle, and you’re good to go! For an ice tea that’s full of glamour and inner balance, why not try our Rhubarb and Vanilla green tea, which carefully caresses tart and sweet flavours, creating a note-perfect accoutrement for a chill day in the sun.

So that’s it for this time, Hoogly lovers. Stay safe, enjoy the weather and keep flipping the kettle on!

Written by Chris Bedford

www.hooglytea.com 

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A walk on the wild side!

A walk on the wild side!

Greetings Hoogly fans! As the lockdown is gradually eased, many of us are taking the opportunity to step outside and cautiously enjoy exercise in the wider world once again. Spending such a long time indoors has been truly testing (even with our endlessly varied and delicious Hoogly brews to enjoy!) and now that we are starting to stretch our legs, the surroundings that we’ve barely seen in weeks take centre stage once more. But it’s not just the beautiful woods, forests and parks, replete with plump trees, radiant flowers and vast swathes of glistening grassland that demand attention; it’s also the amazing creatures that dwell within. Personally, I love nothing better than to watch wildlife busily going about its business: squirrels scurrying and pestering nuts; ducks with fluffy chicklets drifting across glinting ponds; geese sculling overhead in military formation; foxes on a dusk prowl, flitting into hedge furrows with a flash of orange. And, of course, there are the hundreds of varieties of dogs, hauling their humans around, blissfully unaware of the world’s problems, tongues lapping out like slabs of bacon as they urge yet another lap of the park. Don’t forget, too, the insects, arachnids and reptiles that dart about, burrowing, hiding, marching, flying and hunting beneath and around our feet—a whole other world of stunning intricacy, complexity and imperious design…if only we look close enough.

Watching animals go about their lives has always given me a sense of calm, an escape from whatever else I’m thinking about. It’s oddly comforting knowing the simple, binary prerogatives of these creatures: safety, warmth, food, sex. But it’s not always simply about survival; there are secrets and magic to be found in the wild; chase and play, fun and games, mating rituals, elaborate communication, tender acts, and lifelong relationships. There is so much to admire—and envy—In the animal world that I thought I list a few amazing facts for your enjoyment—nuggets of information that will dazzle, surprise and give you fresh perspective on our wild neighbours!

    

  • In 1945, a Colorado farmer decided chicken was on the menu, and chopped one of his rooster’s head off with an axe; unfortunately, his aim was slightly off, and despite removing the head, the rooster’s brainstem remained mostly intact, and a clot saved it from death by blood loss. When ‘Mike’ continued to run around, the farmer knew he had something incredible on his hands, and soon the rooster became famous, delighting and shocking visitors for eighteen months, before he eventually succumbed to the inevitable!
  • The bombardier beetle, when threatened, cooks up a chemistry set of destruction in its belly: hydroquinone, hydrogen peroxide, catalysing enzymes and water, a jet of which shoots out of its rear end with a loud pop, scaring and stinking predators away! Thankfully, the beetle also has an inner valve which closes so that the beetle doesn’t explode!
  • Some lizards and salamanders can ‘drop’ their tails when a predator grabs it; this process of autotomy happens when the lizard contracts certain muscles, cleaving a vertebra and causing the tail to fall (and sometimes wiggle independently to further befuddle an attacker) Often, a new tail tip made from cartilage may grow back, but the bones are gone forever.
  • It may not surprise you to know this, but cats have adapted to skilfully manipulate their owners. A study showed that cats that want something from their humans emit a unique, high-frequency purr, which is of a similar pitch to the impossible-to-ignore wails and cries of a human baby, ensuring we soon top up the bowl and put a smile on moggy’s whiskers.
  • In 1986, a five-year-old boy fell into the gorilla enclosure at Jersey Zoo, knocking himself unconscious. Jambo, the head of the gorilla group, took the situation into his own hands, guarding the boy, and stroking his back, keeping his curious fellow gorillas back. When the boy came round and started to cry, Jambo stepped back, allowing keepers to rescue the boy unharmed!
  • An African Grey Parrot called Alex, according to his handler, had the ability to understand concepts, recognise colours and shapes and knew around 100 words, including some the parrot had made up himself! When Alex saw his first apple, he christened it ‘banerry,’ a portmanteau of ‘banana’ and ‘cherry,’ two fruits he already enjoyed!

 

To celebrate the outside world, and all the majestic creatures that inhabit it, why not indulge in one of our finest summery brews: Spiced Orange herbal tea! This fresh, zesty delight has a generous dose of mulled spices, and is infused with a fruity centre that will quench your thirst and thrill your taste buds at any time of day!

Until next time, stay safe, be Hoogly, and don’t let the cat twist your arm!

Written by Chris Bedford

www.hoolgytea.com

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Home Comforts

Home Comforts

Greetings Hoogly lovers! Well, what a bizarre few weeks! With the majority of us stuck at home and ordered to stay distant from our friends and extended families, we’ve been forced to make quite a number of adjustments, both physically and mentally. This unprecedented phenomenon has led, no doubt, to many of us experiencing a wide range of emotions, some good, some bad, but in most cases shared by people all over the world who are—for perhaps the first time in human history—all in the same boat together. With this emotional journey in mind, I thought I’d explore some of the words other countries use to describe certain emotions, and the meanings behind them—drawn from Tiffany Watt Smith’s brilliant ‘The Book of Human Emotions.’ At a time when we are more separate than ever, it is comforting to discover what we have in common.

-Dolce Far Niente (Italy) This is the joy of doing nothing. This is quite apt for home-bound isolation, where it’s very easy to run out of things to occupy your time. Quite a few people, however, (if the internet is to be believed) have used their spare time very creatively, starting new projects, creating art and video content, or getting fit and healthy. Hygge aficionados, however, will tell you that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with doing proper zilch.

-Matutolypea. No-one quite knows where—or when—this word originated, but we are all familiar with it. Its name is a combination of the Roman goddess of dawn Mater Matuta, and the Greek for dejection, lype, giving us a compound, which means waking up in a foul, rotten mood.

-Ruinenlust (Germany) Feeling compelled to visit crumbling ruins and abandoned places. There is obviously an element of historical interest to this emotion, but sometimes, as the years pass, I think it’s comforting, now and again, to simply visit something that’s even older than we are…

-Oime (Japan) Feeling uncomfortable at owing someone a debt. I can vouch for this one; my best friend is always happy to sling me a fiver on Friday night—and happier still to watch me pat my pockets awkwardly on a Monday, before frog-marching me to the ATM.

-Nginyiwarrarringu (The Pintupi people of the deserts of Western Australia) This is a jolt of fear that makes a person jump up and look around, trying to discover the cause of their alarm. My greyhound does this regularly, especially in the dead of night, which sets off a chain reaction of jolts, starting with my wife, and then finally, with me. No wonder I wake up with Matutolypea.

-Kaukokaipuu (Finland) Combining kauko—faraway, and kaipuu—a yearning, this Finnish word translates as a craving for a distant land, or, perhaps, anywhere but your home. The pub will do.

-Iktsuarpok (Innuit) This is the restlessness we get when we’re expecting guests, sometimes compelling us to go outside to scan the horizon. A more contemporary reading of this may be the urge to refresh or check your phone for texts or emails. Either way, it’s a familiar, antsy and unsatisfied feeling.

-Gezelligheid (The Netherlands) This is Hygge’s cousin! Derived from the word for ‘friend’, it means both the feeling of being snug and cosy and surrounded by friends, as well as the emotional state of feeling ‘held’ and comforted. Throw in a nice cuppa and you’re on!

 

…And if you want a recommendation for that cuppa, then look no further than one of our most indulgent brews yet: White choc and chilli white tea! This luxurious Chinese concoction is both creamy and sweet, with cocoa shells and apple pieces complementing the elegant white tea, all underscored by the subtle and seductive warmth of chilli!

So, until next time: stay safe and boil the kettle!

Written by Chris Bedford

www.hooglytea.com

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Kettle Do Nicely

Kettle Do Nicely

Hello everyone. First off, we at Hoogly would like to extend our best wishes to everyone during this challenging period; we hope you are all doing as well as possible under the circumstances. It can seem trivial to talk about tea during such a turbulent time—and yet, throughout history, people have turned to simple pleasures when things are tough, finding comfort in the familiar and the reliable. Flipping on the kettle is a symbol of crisis management; a beacon that draws us together; a plastic click that says sit down and tell me about it and I’m here for you. So, we say: fill the kettle, flip the switch, and make your favourite cuppa. It won’t change the world, but it might bring a small moment or two of calm, solace and tranquillity.

The main topic of this blog was going to be about the great outdoors and the treasures one can find there. But at a time when less and less of us are venturing outside, this topic, at first, seemed a touch counterintuitive. However, the more I thought about it, the more I figured that the wonderful things I’d seen and learned about didn’t get less wonderful just because I wasn’t going to visit them for a while. In fact, thinking about them took my mind off current events, and put a smile on my face. So, in the end, I decided that I would write about them—and hopefully you’ll find something here that will put a smile on your face too.

The first thing I discovered was something extremely contemporary in terms of nature: a phenomenon known colloquially as ‘witches knickers.’ This is where a shred of stray plastic bag gets caught high up in the branches and twigs of trees, bringing to mind, to those who named it, images of old hags flying around on their broomsticks (presumably without much clothing) and swooping low enough to snag their undergarments in a most unfortunate way. Although this is also a reminder of the excesses of human production, it always gives me a chuckle when I see it.

The second thing I learned about was a spheroblast or burr. This is something I’d seen many times without being able to put a name to it: an anomaly in trees causing various sizes of growths to bulge out from the trunk, sometimes as big as footballs. Burr—as in burr walnut—is often used by luxury car manufacturers and makers of pipes, and the fractal grain of these growths appeal greatly to wood carvers. I like to think of it as trees puffing out their chest with pride—or perhaps with hostility—seeing as Spheroblast sounds like something the X-Men might do battle with!

The final part of the natural world that I discovered was the word Dumbledore. Steady on, Potter fans, it’s not what you think! This is actually another name for the bumblebee! In Britain, our gold and black friend has, in fact, gone by many names: ‘foggy bumbler,’ ‘drumbledrane’ and until fairly recently, the ‘humble-bee.’ Beatrix Potter chose ‘bumble’ instead of ‘humble’ in Tale of Mrs Tiittlemouse (1910)—and by the middle of that decade, Beatrix’s choice had become the norm! Our other literary Potter, of course, has a headmaster with the name Dumbledore, but the character is out of sync with the original West Country meaning: a person who is lethargic, slow, and a little dim.

Fun fact: the bee’s buzz doesn’t come from its wings! It’s actually the sound of the bee’s muscles firing up before take-off, much like a plane or helicopter! Take a peek and have a listen next time you spot a bee on a flower!

And to celebrate the natural world, why not try one of our latest creations…Apricot Blossom green tea?! This uniquely elegant brew is a combination of the downy leaves of Chinese Pai Mu Dan white tea and refreshingly crisp green tea, underscored by the ripe, sunny flavours of soft stone fruit. It’s the perfect accompaniment to an afternoon tea, or can be enjoyed on its own as a tasty treat that will help you relax and unwind.

That’s it until next time, Hoogly fans. Take good care of yourselves, do Hygge, and keep filling your kettle!

Written by Chris Bedford

www.hooglytea.com

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IKIGAI

IKIGAI

Here at Hoogly, we base our products on the concept of Hygge: the Danish lifestyle ethos that values cosiness, mindfulness, and focussing on the things you love the most. Although Hygge is our driving force, we’re always on the lookout for other concepts and ideas that can have a positive influence on our everyday lives, and we think we’ve found just the ticket with an ethos that originates on the other side of the world in Japan.

Ikigai (pronounced ick-ee-guy) is, at its most simplistic, your reason for getting out of bed in the morning. Finding your purpose, or a calling, can be a huge factor in living a long, healthy and fulfilled life. But Ikigai goes further. It asks you to examine yourself, listen to your instincts, and to step outside of the practical routines we adopt in our day-to-day lives, moving closer to the things we feel passionate about.

Your ikigai is a combination of four elements:

-What you love.

-What you are good at.

-What the world needs (your mission)

-What you can get paid for.

Ikigai sits in the centre of where these four elements converge, and helps clarify what makes our life worthwhile. It’s worth spending some time examining the list, making detailed notes on each category, and seeing if there are any overlaps that you hadn’t thought about before. It could be that this is the starting point for finding your ikigai. And even if things don’t seem rosy now, many people who live by ikigai use the concept as a means of looking forward to a brighter future. Much like Hygge, Japanese people see happiness as the sum of small joys experienced in everyday life, whether that is in work or at home. And the more you focus on what it is you actually love, the more you increase the small—and big—joys you will experience.

In order to unlock our purpose, we have to cling on to curiosity. Philosopher and civil rights leader Howard W Thurman states, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

The Japanese have some of the longest-living people in the world, and there’s a strong chance ikigai plays some part in this. Author Dan Buettner, who has written about longevity, thinks it is not enough to simply know your purpose: you have to put it into action. “In Japan, older people are celebrated, and they feel obligated to pass on their wisdom.” This gives them a focus outside of themselves, in service to the wider community. In Japanese work culture, the team is valued more highly than the individual, and workers are driven by being held in high esteem by their colleagues, being thanked, and being useful to others.

If your work is a strong part of your ikigai, it does not necessary follow that working harder and longer is vital to your happiness. Fulfilment comes, in many cases, from feeling that you are making a difference or helping people. Small gestures matter, even something seemingly trivial as acknowledging someone and smiling. Bigger gestures follow later, as we discover what we love, what breaks our heart, and what makes us come alive (or possibly a combination of all three!) When we know more about these three things, we are a step closer to changing our lives—and even the world—for the better.

We’ve got a pretty strong idea of our purpose here at Hygge: making incredible tea that helps you unwind, relax and find that special moment of bliss in your busy life. We feel good about what we do, and we want you to feel good too, which is why all of our teas are vegan—as well as delicious!

Hoogly’s pick for this month? Well, it has to be Genmai Cha green tea! Like ikigai, this brew comes all the way from Japan, and is now enjoyed as a worldwide delicacy in its own right! Indulge in the intriguing mix of vibrant sencha and toasted rice, combining to create a fresh and invigorating brew that will give you a brand-new way to feel refreshed, rejuvenated and relaxed!

So, until next time, it’s ikigai and goodbye!

 

Written by Chris Bedford

 

www.hooglytea.com

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