Hoogly Blogs

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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Black and White Tea!

Black and White Tea!

Greetings Hoogly lovers! I hope you had a lovely Christmas and New Year! How are your resolutions coming along? Congratulations to everyone who is attempting Veganuary! This is a truly exciting and virtuous mission, helping the planet and its animals in numerous ways, and we at Hoogly are fully behind you! Don’t forget that all of our tantalising teas are vegan, so you can complement your new menu with our relaxing, eclectic selection of scent-sational brews!

Aside from being tidier and better with money, my resolution for the new year is to indulge in a regular routine of retro movie nights. This is a simple and relaxing pleasure I have drifted away from in recent years, especially since the advent of streaming, and the constant deluge of new content provided by the giants of TV subscription. When I was younger, my parents introduced me to some of their favourite films, and watching them I discovered a whole new world that seemed distinct and separate from the films I was watching at the time. Firstly, the oddity of black and white. It took a while for me to fully understand that this was a limitation of technology and not evidence that previous generations had actually lived in a world without colour! As I grew older, the films my parents raved about so much began to take on new meaning for me. I began to appreciate the craft involved, the style and scale of some of the productions, the beautiful orchestral music, the purity of the dialogue, and the magnetic draw of the shining stars that appeared in them. Humphrey Bogart, Laurence Olivier, John Wayne, Vivien Leigh. Names my parents spoke about with such reverence, such joy, such fond recollection. I began to understand why Mum and Dad had watched these films over and over, endlessly, never tiring of what was being offered. It was an escape—all good movies are, of course—but these films of the forties, fifties and sixties seemed a breed apart. They were reassuring. Comforting. Like an old friend. They reminded people of a different era, and in many ways (although reality almost certainly differed) a better time. A period of respect and understatement. A period where awful things were implied but not shown. A period in which everything felt ordered, safe, aligned. An idea that, for ninety minutes, nothing else mattered, and everything was as it should be.

From the hundreds of films my parents introduced me to, a handful have stayed with me forever, and now make up the hit-list of retro movie night. But before I get into the details of this glorious rollcall of cinematic delight, I must share with you the proper way to enjoy your relaxing retro evening.  First of all, you must wear pyjamas. If you don’t own a pair of PJs, then a t-shirt and lounge pants are acceptable. Secondly, you must have a duvet or sheet: you never know when the movie night may extend beyond reasonable hours—it might be midnight already when Gone With the Wind starts, and you’ve got four hours to get through yet, so it’s wise to make arrangements to sleep where you sit! Thirdly, you need copious snacks, preferably popcorn, but I will allow any reasonable assortment of chocolates, crisps or nuts. Fourthly, you must have an endless supply of Hoogly Tea at your side! As you know, like Hollywood movies, our teas range from the classic to the exotic, from elegant simplicity to flavour fiestas, taking your around the world on a chilled and refreshing journey. So get your kettle and bags ready—lights, camera, action!

And so to my favourite retro films. If you haven’t seen these already, then you’re not living your best life. Sort it out!

 

  1. Brief Encounter. A chance meeting of a married woman and a doctor at a steam-covered train station leads to a romantic affair, and a dramatic exploration of loyalty, regret and the choices we make. Has one of the greatest—and most English —endings in cinema history.
  2. Wuthering Heights (1939) This adaptation of Emily Brontë’s novel is a wind-swept and moody saga of love, loss and obsession, with a sweeping and underrated orchestral score, and fine performances by Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon. Have a hanky ready!
  3. Casablanca. Humphrey Bogart plays night club owner Rick, who agrees to help his former lover and her husband stay a step ahead of the Nazis—but old feelings are soon rekindled. This masterpiece has some of the greatest lines of dialogue ever written, a beautiful score, high drama, and never fails to delight, no matter how many times you watch it.
  4. Carve Her Name With Pride. The true story of Violette Szabo, an English war-widow who became a secret agent in occupied France during World War 2. A film about courage, love and doing one’s duty, this a fitting tribute to a remarkable heroine—the first woman to be awarded the George Cross. Included in the film is the reading of a love poem Szabo was given to help encrypt messages while she was in France—it is a thing of rare beauty, and the moment the poem appears will stay with you forever.

 

If you fancy a seductive treat to add a little bit of Hollywood glamour to your movie night, why not try one of our Hoogly hot cocoas?! We have three decadent flavours to choose from: Luxury Hot Cocoa, Cocoa & Mint, and Salted Caramel Cocoa! These sweet sensations will knock your cosy socks off, and keep you coming back for more! So give one an audition today!

Until next time, good luck with all your resolutions and enjoy your movie night!

www.hooglytea.com

Written by Chris Bedford.

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Turn Over a New Leaf in January!

Turn Over a New Leaf in January!

Greetings Hoogly lovers! Today I’m going to talk about the New Year, and all the opportunities this brings to treat yourself to some Hygge magic. Yes, it’s soon going to be January, that wonderful period of calm reflection, a period collective exhalation after the mayhem of December, turning thoughts away from shopping lists and decorations towards longer-term goals and projects.

Every year, my resolutions are the same: eat better, spend less, tidy more, and read more books. I like to think I’m relatively consistent in sticking to them—at least until mid-March. But the resolution that brings me the most joy and satisfaction is the book-reading. I think carving out time to chill out and become absorbed in a book is one of life’s true pleasures, and one of the most Hoogly things you can do. Hygge, after all, is about focusing on the things that bring you comfort and happiness, and doing those things in the cosiest way possible. So, this January, get in your PJs, pull on your big socks, plop yourself down in your softest chair, and let yourself be fall in love with the literature!

And if you need some top tips for books to read in 2020, then here are Hoogly’s top five books to inspire, thrill and comfort!

  1. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy. This is a stunning gift book for all ages, featuring exquisite illustrations and beautiful conversations between the four animals that will lift your heart, stir your emotions and bring a smile to your face. One to keep on the shelf forever.
  2. Starve Acre by Andrew Michael Hurley. A stark departure from the first choice on the list, this is a wonderfully disturbing little horror novel about a couple who have lost their young son. In the mother’s despair, she turns to a group called The Beacons to find answers about the visions she sees of her son, but in her desperation to find hope, she may possibly unearth something terrible. A gothic rural setting and a pacy narrative make this essential reading for the dark nights of winter!
  3. Blue Moon by Lee Child. Jack Reacher is back! The six-foot-seven former military cop must use every inch of his brawn, logic and intellect to get the better of two criminal gangs who are vying for control over the town where Reacher has just shown up. If you haven’t read Lee Child before, fasten your seatbelt for the best thriller writer in town! The plots are devious, the action is intense, and Jack Reacher one of the coolest, most addictive characters ever created! Electric, white-knuckle stuff!
  4. The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes. A romantic novel set in 1930s Kentucky, this absorbing read tells the story of Alice, who, disillusioned with married life, joins a travelling library led by feisty and rebellious Margery O’Hare. But not everyone is overjoyed with the women’s desires to spread the love of books and they come up against stiff resistance that threatens to crush their dreams. Can the women’s belief in each other, and the power of books, win the day?
  5. Northern Lights by Philip Pullman. Now the hit BBC show is underway, huge swathes of us are rediscovering the classic His Dark Materials series, in which plucky Lyra and her shape-shifting animal daemon embark on an adventure that will bring them in contact with witches, child-snatchers and warrior ice-bears, whilst seeking to discover the dark secret at the heart of her world. This is the first in the original trilogy that has captured the imagination of children and adults alike with its imagination, narrative skill and epic world-building.

 

And what better way to accompany your bestselling book than a beautiful brew? Make Hygge one of your New Year’s resolutions and enjoy the scintillating scents and tantalising tastes of Hoogly Teas, bringing tranquillity, relaxation and joy wherever and whenever you need it.

If you aren’t quite ready for the end of the festive season, why not spend January indulging in our uniquely wonderful Christmas Cake Rooibos—a harmonious blend of fruit and spices that will delight friends and family, even on the coldest, darkest days. Truly, a gift that keeps on giving!

If it’s luxury and elegance you’re after, then look no further than White Choc & Chilli White Tea! This creamy and sweet Chinese brew is an aromatic treat, perfect to add a little heat to winter, with a taste that will lure you back time and again!

So that’s it for this month, friends. I hope Santa brings you everything you wish for, including some good books and, hopefully, some delicious Hoogly delights! You deserve it!

Written by Chris Bedford

www.hooglytea.com

 

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A Clean Start

A Clean Start

So, I’m not sure if anyone told you, but Christmas is coming. Looming ominously and gathering size and speed, like the giant rolling ball in Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. And when it is done, we are most likely to have an influx of stuff. Good stuff. Prezzies, gifts, gestures of goodwill, items from our Santa wish-list. Bag after bag of generosity from friends and family, sitting in our living rooms or on our spare bed, waiting patiently for us to finish our leftover sandwiches and fifth box of chocolates, and maybe also a few naps, before attention is turned back their way, as we try to find a home for all those socks and scarves and underpants; those games and toys and books. Not to mention the fancy and oversized kitchenware and the bathroom smellies. Now I don’t know about you, but in my house, those bags are usually left unattended for a few days before I can summon the energy to find everything a home. This is because, in years gone by, I have been a little bit…how best to put it…messy. I’ve let my tidiness and organisation slide and adopted a policy of ‘that’ll do,’ with a dollop of ‘out of sight, out of mind.’ And, unsurprisingly, when the festive season hits and I add more stuff to an already heaving system, things usually end up going awry.

But there are worse things at sea, right? What’s wrong with a bit of mess? No harm, no foul. Well, actually, there may be something to the old saying about ‘tidy house, tidy mind.’ If we think back to all those moments in our lives when we had a massive clean, I’m willing to bet that nine times out of ten it was a hugely positive experience. Personally, I remember tidying my student digs after weeks (OK, months) of screwed up essays, takeaway pizzas and parties, fuelled by the fear that government agents in hazmat suits were ready to burst through the door and arrest us for crimes against hygiene. And when we were done—weary, sweating and with ten binbags in hand—the place looked amazing and we felt amazing. Being clutter free and clean made us feel invigorated, creative, focussed and happy. We vowed that, from that moment on, we would never be messy again. And we weren’t. For an entire week. And then life happened.

But my point is, tidying works. But we so easily forget. There seems to be a disconnect; the euphoria of being clutter free and relaxed, followed by the gradual accumulation of stuff, and a feeling of underlying stress as a result. It boils down, in essence, to control. If our space is clean and tidy, we feel in control, on top of our tasks, ready to focus on others things. If we are messy, that feeling of control seeps away, creating an ever-increasing feeling of helplessness. Too many rooms, too much grime, too little time. And it’s hard—really, really hard to create change.

But help is at hand. There are now a wealth of writers, bloggers and Instagram stars who dedicate themselves to helping others find the tranquillity and calm that comes from tidiness. Marie Kondo, author of ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying’ offers a wonderfully precise and ruthless ethos to kickstart your cleaning routines. Here are five useful tips from her writing:

1: Does is spark joy? Those items/clothes/books etc loitering in drawers, boxes, cupboards. Do they actively give you proper, smile-inducing, laughter-provoking pleasure? If not, get rid!

2: Don’t let your family see you tidy: Parents, especially, can often try and ‘save’ things from being thrown out. Own your choices, go solo, and if it doesn’t spark joy, you know what to do!

3: Tackle categories, not rooms. For example, deal with all clothes first, then move onto books. It gives you focus and stops you creeping from room to room!

4: Nostalgia is not your friend: Get your blinkers on, people. Don’t be distracted by old photographs, or some pretty rock you found at a beach once, or that blade of grass that Lady Gaga walked on at a festival that one time—focus on your categories and don’t fall down the memory lane rabbit hole, because that’s a perfect way to achieve absolutely zero!

5: Purging feels good. You can give the bulk to charity, or children of friends and family, and the rest can be recycled or put in the bin. You will feel so much lighter, freer, happier and content knowing that you’ve rid yourself of things you neither need nor care for. And, once this stuff is gone, the things that do spark joy are clearly accessible without solving a Krypton Factor puzzle in order to find them!

And…breathe.

Of course, we at Hoogly love the idea of being kind to ourselves. We don’t claim to be the tidiest people in the world (Come on, we make a lot of cakes!), but we do try to follow the Danish ethos of Hygge as best we can, which shares some key themes with Marie Kondo’s books. In Hygge, we seek to fill our lives with the things we love the most: people, food, mementos and places. If it doesn’t bring us cosiness, contentment and happiness, then we say farvel to it—good riddance. Because Hygge is about treating yourself well, spoiling yourself with life’s little luxuries and simple pleasures, and remembering to make a habit of it!

We think Marie Kondo would really dig our Hygge-inspired Hoogly teas. For a start, they are delicious—but they are also crafted with no unnecessary excess—just simple ingredients, well chosen, allowing the scent and taste to speak for themselves.  And not to brag, but our tea boxes are also small, neat and easy to stack! So our kitchen will look pristine… just as soon as we’ve organised all the stray plastic bags, Tupperware, pan lids, bottle tops and recipe books…

So, how about our recommended tea of the week?

Well, what better than a brew that makes you feel cleansed and refreshed inside and out? The cool and classic Chill Out Mint! Our invigorating menthol cuppa not only tastes amazing, but, in some cases, can also aid digestion, freshen breath and ease certain headaches. It’s also naturally caffeine and calorie free, meaning you can enjoy this sumptuous tea without feeling sinful. So simply sit back, relax and let the natural flavour wash over you.

That’s it for now Hoogly fans. Hope you have success in pruning your possessions, and we’ll see you again soon for a nice cup of tea and a chat!

Written by Chris Bedford.

www.hooglytea.com

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WAKE ME UP BEFORE YOU COCOA!

WAKE ME UP BEFORE YOU COCOA!

The weather has turned. The days are shorter, the nights are longer, and for most of us, works start and ends in the gloom. Umbrellas are out, flapping and spraying; puddles pepper the roads; the grass is muddy, the pavements are slippy, and you find yourself wearing more and more clothes, outside and in. A few weeks of this grizzly, shivery nonsense, and it feels like it’s been this way forever. Does the sun actually exist? Was its warming fingers on our eyelids just a distant, lovely dream? Did we really go to the beach that time? Were the scents of the barbecue a figment of our collective imagination? Did we really go out for a picnic in the park and watch the dog nosedive into the cocktail sausages?

Yes, we did all those things, and more. But they are in the past. To be filed and treasured. Now, things have changed, people. This is the season for staying in. The season for cranking up the fire or the heating, pulling out your cosiest socks and jumpers, and gathering the board games from the attic. This is the season for scented candles, a good book and a hot water bottle. It’s the season for treating yourself to all the joy of your biscuit cupboards, and then refilling and doing it all over again. In other words, it’s the season of Hygge!

We all have different ways of overcoming the dark and the cold and the winter blues. The Danes use Hygge to focus on all the people and things that make them happy and content—and once they have decided, they introduce these treasures into their lives at every given opportunity. It sounds simple, but it actually takes a bit of getting used to; our fast-paced, digitised society makes it harder and harder to take a step back, breathe, and be mindful of what really matters in life. But with practice, and the help of our nearest and dearest, all of us can be as gloriously cosy and happy as the Danes!

One of the most important elements of Hygge is making connections: with the things you love, but also with nature and its beauty, and the people around us. In the social media age, there can be a tendency to become isolated as a result of the ease of interaction through our phones and computers, with all our news being announced, jokes being told, and stories being shared in a text box, rather than face-to-face. Hygge gently invites us to gather together, in groups large or small, to remind ourselves of the joy and comfort of belonging; of baking messy cakes on a rainy day; of watching a scary film in the dark and chucking popcorn at your mates when someone screams; of having titanic Scrabble matches, whilst keeping an eye on that aunt who gives herself extra points; of simply having a nice cup of tea with friends and remembering the good old days, and planning better ones for the future.

And speaking of cuppas, don’t forget to supplement your cosy gatherings with the only brews that recreate the Danish delight of Hygge—Hoogly Teas! We have a wide range of delicious, healthy, scent-sational and vegan teas to choose from, including rooibos, green tea, herbal blends and traditional tastes such as English Breakfast, peppermint and Earl Grey.

But this year, we’re going one better in the cosy stakes. We’re about to roll out the ultimate winter comfort; the sweet pick-me-up that makes all things better; the treat that thrills kids and adults alike. A night-time settler that is just as good the following morning. In fact, its always the right time for this legendary beverage.

Drum roll please…

Yes, you’ve guessed it.

HOT COCOA IS LANDING!

Feel free to picture confetti falling, balloons rising, trumpets blaring, crowds cheering, and Maroon 5 playing energetically in the background.

(This is our ideal launch party, but the band haven’t replied to our emails as yet)

We have three incredible flavours to choose from: Salt Caramel cocoa (which uses pink Himalayan salt), Mint and Cocoa and Luxury Hot cocoa! All of our fabulous flavours are vegan, and full of the wonderful antioxidant goodness of the cocoa bean, and all made with natural ingredients, including nectar sugar.

We know, we know…unbelievably exciting. We’ve only just stopped dancing ourselves.

Winter is now officially sorted. When the wind howls outside, when rain droplets slalom down the window pane, when the clouds gather and threaten to blot out all memory of summer, pop the kettle on, take a seat, and chill with the globetrotting, taste-tastic, super-cosy phenomenon that is Hoogly Cocoa! …And then get all your friends round and tell them about it!

Or don’t.

Sometimes it’s worth keeping things this good a secret.

Until next time Hoogly lovers…have a happy, spooky Halloween!

Written by Chris Bedford

www.hooglytea.com

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Rooibos!

Rooibos!

Greetings tea lovers! Today, I’m going to talk about a Rooibos, or Red Bush, a relative newcomer to the world stage, but whose popularity and reputation is growing day-by day. The history of Rooibos is rooted in the Cedarberg region of South Africa, where indigenous Khoisan bushmen have used leaves from the Aspalathus Linearis plant for centuries as herbal remedies for a variety of ailments, and for their unique taste. The tea may well have been lost to history with the decline of the Khoisan tribes, but a botanist called Carl Humberg came across the leaves in 1772 and created a more widespread interest in the drink. The mantel was then picked up by Benjamin Ginsberg, a Russian immigrant with tea manufacturing links, who marketed the beverage as a herbal alternative called ‘Mountain Tea.’

With the onset of the Second World War, tea importation from Asian countries became virtually impossible, paving the way for Rooibos to become a credible alternative, shipping all over the world. However, due to the high cost of the seeds, retailers were struggling to keep prices down, and the tea was difficult to buy for many people. However, in the late sixties, Rooibos encountered a stroke of luck, or perhaps fate. A South African mother called Annique Theron wrote and published a book on the tea’s health benefits, which led to more studies being carried out, the results of which created an explosion of interest in Rooibos, and a sharp incline in popularity and uptake.

So, what exactly are these health benefits? First of all, Rooibos is caffeine-free, meaning you can enjoy it at any time of the day without worrying about experiencing any crashes, or getting too ‘wired!’ Additionally, each cup is only 2-4 calories, allowing you to enjoy the smoky brew guilt-free, or incorporate it into a weight-loss programme. Its antispasmodic properties also mean that it can soothe abdominal cramps or pain.

Rooibos has also, in some cases, been shown to be good for your skin! It contains alpha hydroxy acid, which studies have shown can help improve the look of fine lines and wrinkles, and the tea’s soothing effect can reduce redness and irritation, further improving skin tone.

Another health benefit is the presence of antioxidants, which stop harmful free radicals from damaging the body’s cells and causing inflammation that has been linked to serious illness. In addition, Rooibos is rich in healthy bioflavonoids, which can block the release of histamines, helping stave off seasonal allergy symptoms!

So, what on earth are you waiting for? Visit our shop now and feast upon our healthy delights! We currently have two Rooibos blends, the first of which is Danish Pastry, a tasty treat straight from the home of Hoogly, warming you up with a chocolate and cinnamon aroma and a subtly delicious pasty taste. This beautiful brew has all the hallmarks of our wonderful ethos: cosiness, relaxation and indulgence!

Secondly, discover Marzipan Rooibos! This delectable delight is infused with almond pieces, mallow flowers and vanilla to create a cup of liquid luxury that exudes the distinctive taste that we all know and love!

Soon we’ll be adding three great new Rooibos teas to our shop: Classic rooibos, Ginger Biscuit and Sweet Orange, offering even more scintillating scents, tantalising tastes, and cosy comfort! So now there are even more reasons to take a Hoogly home!

 Written by Chris Bedford

www.hooglytea.com

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A Time of Waste

A Time of Waste

Plastic is a pretty remarkable material. It’s cheap, strong, long-lasting, and can be made into any shape you can imagine. Humans are so enamoured with the invention that since the fifties, it’s estimated that we’ve created over eight billion metric tonnes of plastic. Although plastic has been put to good use and has been a success in many areas of our everyday lives, the impact of its supreme durability is now becoming horribly evident.

 

Nearly eighty percent of plastic made in the last seven decades has been discarded onto landfills or into the general environment. Less than ten percent is recycled, and the rest is incinerated. This has led scientists, conservationists and activists to call on the population, from top to bottom, to urgently reassess the way we think about and use plastic.

The statistics they cite are damning. More than 8 million tonnes of plastic finds its way into the sea each year, and some experts estimate that, by the middle of the century, there will be more plastic than fish, and that 99% of all seabirds will have eaten some plastic during their lives. The sea also contains over fifty trillion particles of micro-plastic—five hundred times the amount of stars in our galaxy. Sea turtles can mistake plastic bags for tasty jellyfish, floating plastic can tempt a swooping seagull, and young perch will readily eat plastic over plankton. Scientists think that this waste effects over six hundred species, and the damage done by consuming this indigestible poison is often lethal, which is not only an obvious disaster for the creatures themselves, but also has a knock-on effect on our species, as we eat so many sea-dwelling creatures ourselves. Owing to the fact that plastic can degrade into fragments tiny enough to pass through the gut and into the flesh of fish and other animals, we are already consuming the waste plastic that is polluting our oceans. This is not good news, as some plastic is toxic and can cause disruption to the normal functioning of hormones. Additionally, plastic has been known to attract other spilled pollutants and poisons like a magnet, which simply heightens the importance of removing it from our oceans.

It’s not just the sea that is affected, of course. There are over three hundred billion pieces of plastic in the once-pristine Artic, and some of the remote Pacific Islands have some of the highest levels of plastic pollution anywhere on the globe.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, it’s now thought that plastic may be contaminating the air. Microparticles from cosmetics and microfibres from synthetic clothes wash into our sewage systems and enter treatment plants, finally finding their way into the sea. Some particles, however, combine with the sewage and are then used to fertilise farmers’ fields. Once these dry, and the wind picks up, these particles may be blown into the atmosphere where they can be inhaled as we go about our lives.

The good news is, the world is beginning to respond to the problem. The United Nations has engaged in a ‘War on Ocean Plastic,’ creating a CleanSeas campaign which have notable signatories, including the UK and France, Brazil and Italy. The UK itself has enforced a ban on microplastics in “rinse-off” cosmetics, and has tried to raise awareness in communities about the best ways to recycle, and how to avoid single-use plastics where possible.

And we at Hoogly are doing our part too. Our ethos, Hygge, is about being cosy and content, focussing on the things that bring you joy, and most importantly, being kind to yourself. But being cosy starts in your surroundings and your environment: we want the natural world, from which we take so much pleasure, to be as beautiful and healthy as possible, so that it can provide purity, safety and comfort to us now and in the future, helping us find balance and tranquillity in our everyday lives.

To this end, all of our tea pyramids are fully biodegradable, giving you peace of mind every time you flip on the kettle and indulge in our tasty range of brews. In addition to this, we will very soon be packaging and presenting our tea pyramids in fully biodegradable cellophane bags made from natural, renewable sources. The new NatureFlex bags are static-free, compostable, heat-seal viable, and won’t biodegrade on your shelf. So now you can relax, enjoy the Hoogly moment, safe in the knowledge that you’re sharing a smile with Mother Earth.

And if you’re looking for help navigating your way through our delicious selection of eclectic treats, look no further than our Hoogly Brew of the Week: Early Grey black tea. Our riff on an old classic provides the perfect way to unwind in style, with a delicate blend of Sri Lankan tea leaves, infused with bergamot oil and complemented by zesty lemon and sweet orange, offering a scintillating scent as well as a treat for the taste-buds!

That’s it for now. Until next time, look after yourself and the beautiful world around you—and don’t forget, for a huggable cuppa…it has to be Hoogly!

Written by Chris Bedford

www.hooglytea.com

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A Lolly good idea!!

A Lolly good idea!!

Greetings Hoogly fans! The other day I was trying to solve a very difficult problem. I had a tune to a TV programme going around my head, but I couldn’t remember which programme it belonged to. I had a feeling it was a children’s TV show, but the more I hummed it to myself, and the longer it stayed on tip of my tongue, the more frustrated I became. Unlike most problems, this couldn’t be solved with a quick Google search, which is most infuriating to a person in the year 2019. Eventually, my interest waned, but every few days or weeks, the tune would re-emerge organically in my brain, the volume up high, and the irritating process would start all over again. I asked friends and family, but nobody seemed to know. A few friends became as annoyed as I was, clutching their hair and squashing their eyes shut as they tried to force the name to come. It was as if I had passed on some kind of exasperating virus. Eventually, about three months after the tune emerged in my head, somebody cracked it, and, I have to say, it was a huge anti-climax. It turns out that it was the tune for Grange Hill, which I had initially ruled out as a possibility because I knew the original Grange Hill tune, which wasn’t the tune in my head, failing to remember that the tune had changed at some point during the show’s lifespan. Still, at least the mystery was solved, and I could go back to humming songs I knew.

I tell you all this because I’d originally planned to talk about memory, specifically childhood memories of summer, and I realised that the Grange Hill debacle had a certain connection with this thread, although I’m hoping most of your childhood memories come back to you more easily, and bring more pleasure than my farcical episode!

For me, summer is about grass. The back garden and the park. Paddling pools, water pistols, tennis rackets and balls of all shapes and sizes being bounced of the garden wall or accidentally lobbed over the fence. I loved warming up and cooling off. Sliding and diving around, getting mud on my knees and elbows. Five-a-side football with my mates. American football with my dad. Cricket with my great aunt—who at the age of 65 was still capable of delivering a wicked swing delivery and bowling me out!

And in those seemingly endless evenings, I used to love pitching a tent in the back garden, pretending I was an explorer, hunting bugs, escaping furry predators, finding hidden treasure (Cadbury’s Crème Eggs buried by my grandma) and hunting UFOs in the night sky. I would sit out for hours with my cousin, eating Coco Pops from a cake mix bowl, staring at the stars, waiting for ET to swish by, or land, or fire a laser beam. Although we never got any concrete proof, we both swear to the fact that, one evening in Northampton, we saw three orange triangles shoot silently across the sky in a tight formation. Our very own episode of the X-Files!

Last but not least on my list of childhood memories of summer: BBQs! This is a love that, for most people, never really goes away. The scent of grilled foods that you can float on, cartoon-style, drifting out towards where the action is happening, filling your plate time and time again with unashamedly naughty food. Add to this the joy of friends and family huddling around for fun, games and laughter…and third courses…what more could a kid want??

…Well I’ll tell you what more a kid could want!

Hoogly popsicles and ice tea!!

The sun has been pretty unrelenting this summer—nothing like the nonsense of last year’s heat wave—but still intense. To ensure that you stay refreshed and cool off in style, why not try a Spiced Orange or Berrylicious lolly? Simply brew the herbal infusion bags for twice the usual amount of time, pour into a mould shaped to your preference, and leave it in the freezer overnight! By morning, you’ll have some distinctively delicious sweet summer snacks to fuel your fun in the sun!

Alternatively, why not chill out with the elegance and seduction of a Hoogly ice tea? Simply pop two teabags in a heat-proof pitcher, cover with four cups of boiled water, then leave for around five minutes. Then, remove the teabags, sweeten to your preference, then mix in five or six cups of ice until they melt. If you feel like customising your brew, why not add slivers of your favourite fruit and allow them settle into the mix? Pop the finished article in the fridge and you’re ready to rock when the sun gets too hot to handle! For the best iced teas, we highly recommend Chill Out Mint, with its invigorating and cooling menthol character, Cosy Chamomile, with its carefully chosen herbs that relax the body and soothe the mind, and Jasmine Dawn, a delicate and alluring blend of jasmine, vanilla and rose.

So that’s it! Now you’re all set to enjoy a hot, Hoogly summer, confident in the knowledge that you can stay refreshed and mindful with every sip! Here’s to making more happy memories…cheers!

Written by Chris Bedford

www.hooglytea.com

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Take my breath away.

Take my breath away.

Can you remember the first song you ever learned? The first song you ever loved? Incy Wincy Spider? Round and Round the Garden? The Hokey Cokey? Our fascination and obsession with music starts early and, for most of us, locks in for the rest of our lives. The rhythms and comforts of the womb are replaced by the rhythms, beats and melodies of the songs our parents teach us, and the tunes we hear in the world around us. And there are so many reasons we listen, so many reasons we enjoy songs and music: the joy of dance and expressing ourselves; relaxation; hearing a story, or something that relates to us; hearing something that makes us laugh or cry; being blown away by the power or soul of the singer or band; being mesmerised by the intricacy of the arrangement, the sounds of the instruments both familiar and strange, the movement of the melody, the surprises that musical genius offer. Our relationship with music almost feels innate, coiled in our DNA, fundamental to who we are and where we are going. It has the ability to transport us instantaneously to a moment in our past, a form of time travel keenly linked to our emotions, both joyful and sombre. As soon as song that means something to us plays, our mind can recall seemingly every detail about the time and place we last heard it, and what was going through our minds at the time. It can be quite surreal, unsettling even. It shares this trait with our sense of smell, which can also wrench us away from the present, back to a time and place we had long since forgotten.

I remember the first time I discovered the angelic low timbre of Karen Carpenter’s voice at aged ten, listening rapt to such songs as Close to You, Yesterday Once More, Goodbye to Love and There’s a Kind of Hush. When I played these songs, something came over me: an instant sensation of peace, tranquillity and unadulterated pleasure. I listened on loop and couldn’t get enough. I was slightly miffed to find out that I wasn’t the first person to discover The Carpenters; I had been keen to spread the word and claim some of the glory for myself. But when I told my parents about my new obsession, my mum smiled and told me that it wasn’t a great surprise. She told me that when I was a baby, I was a pain in the backside because I would never fall asleep. I would cry and scream and generally cause headaches and chaos. The only thing that calmed me down and lulled me into slumber was a drive in the car with the cassette player turned up, listening to the heavenly tone of Karen Carpenter. I was shocked. I had no memory of this whatsoever, but it was somewhere deep down in my subconscious, just waiting to be released once again. The power of music. And it made me enjoy the Carpenters even more.

Another wonderful aspect of music is the way that it can unite us. Anyone can enjoy music, share in it, sing it, dance to it, and some of the most pleasurable musical experiences are formed at gigs and concerts and festivals, with huge crowds massed for a singular purpose, moving as one organism as the musicians and singers hypnotise and entertain. For me, the unifying power of music took place across generations. When I was young, my Dad introduced me to the Beatles, who had taken over the world when he was a child, creating an excitement and ‘mania’ the likes of which may never be seen again. In the car he would play their early tracks: soulful, roaring rock and roll numbers, but layered with incredible harmonies, jangling guitars and thoughtful lyrics. Hearing the ‘oohs’ and ‘yeah, yeah, yeahs,’ I was intoxicated, and I set about listening to everything they had ever recorded, which took me on a journey through a decade of musical genius. My Dad, however, had very strong views about the Beatles later work, saying he felt ‘betrayed’ by their more experimental, surreal and kaleidoscopic songs, feeling that they had moved too far away from the sweet, ‘pure’ love songs that had been so important to him (and his failed romances) when he was a young man. I didn’t feel the same way, and this was the first time I had experienced music as a divisive topic, but it wasn’t the last—just simply something to accept with a subject that inspires such an emotional response.

The next song that I obsessed over was ‘Take My Breath Away’ by Berlin. Now, this wasn’t because I was a fan of the Hollywood movie Top Gun, with which the song became eternally linked, but, well…OK—full disclosure—I am a HUGE fan of the Hollywood movie Top Gun, and I’ve watched it about fifty times…but I love the song even more. The first time I heard the strange, otherworldly synth bass riff that drives the power ballad, I was transfixed. It felt magical, dreamlike; almost as though it had been written just for me. I listened to it over and over, revelling in the effect it had on me, and found myself, for the first time in my life, truly connecting to a song’s lyrics. As an anxious child, I had always escaped my worries by turning inward, to my imagination and safe spaces in my head, and hearing lines like turning and returning to some secret place inside and, more powerfully, …turned to hear you say, if only for today, I am unafraid, I felt comforted and understood, even though it was a song about romantic love, which at that point I didn’t understand, it was also a song about finding safety and shelter. Well, that and flying supersonic jet planes whilst wearing massive aviator shades.

We at Hoogly understand that a good cup tea is something almost as universal as music, a simple pleasure that brings people together, provides comfort and joy, and a national treasure that elicits strong emotions—even if it sometimes provokes a disagreement or two! (Milk first or second, anyone?)

With the cosy ethos of Hygge as our guide, we’re dedicated to creating experiences that surprise, scintillate and soothe: teas that, like the best songs, will become obsessions, urgent routines, and then trusted old friends. We want you to indulge in our wide variety of tastes, travelling the world with our eclectic mix of brews, but always feeling like you’re in the safety of home.

This week’s Hoogly recommendations are:

-Danish Pastry Rooibos: With the aroma of chocolate and cinnamon tinkling like piano keys over the powerful bassline taste of delicious pastry, this Danish delight will thrill and seduce tea lovers like a catchy chorus.

-Cosy Chamomile herbal infusion. This is a lullaby of a brew, perfect to snuggle up and unwind with, as the smooth chamomile is perfectly harmonised with rose hips, lemon verbena and lime leaves.

-Darjeeling Afternoon Black Tea. Discover the ancient melody of Himalayan Darjeeling, combined with Sri Lankan and Chinese black teas, to create the perfect pitch and tone, giving you a refreshing liquor of delicate complexity.  This is the way tea was meant to be taken.

 

That’s all from us for now. Have a wonderful summer and don’t forget to give Hoogly a chance! It may well take your breath away!

Written by Chris Bedford

www.hooglytea.com

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