Hoogly Blogs

A Christmas Gift Of Tea!

A Christmas Gift Of Tea!

Greetings Hoogly fans! The festive season is upon us again and Christmas shoppers are already out in force seeking inspiration or hunting down items on gift lists. Finding something for everyone can be a stressful exercise, and there are certain people who are more difficult to buy for than others. What happens when you’ve browsed every website and wrestled your way through every shop in the mall and still come up empty-handed? Well, frustration might set in. With a few dollops of rage and a small helping of panic. What now?! Do you download an app that gives you randomised gift options and choose blindly, hoping for the best? Do you take a punt on something you think they might like but could well end up offending them? Do you get something simple and obvious that, despite all your deep thinking about the problem, ends up looking like you haven’t put much thought in at all? Do you consult a crystal ball or a medium? Or perhaps install listening devices in the person’s home on the off-chance that they might let slip their deepest gift desires over breakfast or while doing the ironing?

The answer to the above questions, of course, is none of these things.

When you’re stuck and about to pull your hair out, look no further than Hoogly Tea for gift ideas! As you know, we’re all about taking the stress out of life and getting you in the mood to chill and be mindful, and we just might have exactly what you’re looking for to alleviate the burden of Christmas shopping hell!

If you’re looking for an elegant gift that will thrill and delight your nearest and dearest, then we have a wide range of treasures to choose from. For example, what tea lover could resist our Winter Warmer Set, which includes a stylish, hand-crafted Hoogly hot water bottle, a ceramic mug with a bamboo lid, a golden spoon and two boxes of tea of your choice! This is the ultimate way to ward off the frosty temperatures, allowing you to stay cosy and calm whilst sipping one of our delicious brews to your heart’s content.

If you’re searching for a simple but charmingly attractive gift, why not go for our Hoogly Teapot? This delightful glass pot has a bamboo lid and a built-in filter, perfectly proportioned for one person. Simply add two teaspoons of loose leaf or one pyramid and you can watch your leaves unfurl in complete tranquillity!

If you’re looking for a cheeky stocking-filler, why not try our Hoogly Tea Sand Timer? We have two options depending on your preference: 3 minutes and 5 minutes. This is an excellent addition to any Hoogly home, with the draining granules providing a surprisingly relaxing way to wait for your scintillating tea to brew!

Stuck for a big and bold prezzie? Look no further than our beautiful Mug and Tea tray. This features a sleek, branded wooden box containing two bamboo-lidded Hoogly mugs and 20 wrapped teas in flavours of your choice, bringing the luxury of the hotel experience to your bedside table. Flavours include customer favourites such as Apple Strudel, Berrylicious, Earl Grey, Cosy Chamomile and Danish Pastry.

For the tea lover in your family who wants to experiment with scent and flavour, then the only choice is our elegant and dramatic Luxury Wooden Box! This attractive gift has six compartments filled with sixty individually wrapped tea pyramids and ten brands to choose from. Watch their eyes widen as they unwrap this sensational brew box and then delight in their effusive enthusiasm as they spend the next few weeks indulging in their eclectic selection, singing the praises of your gift-buying skills!

Last but not least, why not ditch plastic bags for good with one of our charming cotton Bags for Life?! Show off your favourite tea brand and shop with style with a small or large bag—or alternatively use as a gift bag to treat your friends and family to one of the above-mentioned Hoogly gifts!

That’s it for now, folks. I hope you continue to stay safe, happy and contented. Don’t forget to browse our website for further gift ideas, and have a wonderful Christmas!

Written by Chris Bedford

www.hooglytea.com

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BUMP IN THE NIGHT

BUMP IN THE NIGHT

Greetings Hoogly fans! It’s that time of year again: the nights are getting longer; the temperature has fallen and the bulging darkness begins to encroach on our every flank. Before long it will be that most spooky of occasions: Halloween, and we will once again take to the streets like an army of the undead, dressed like vampires or monsters or ghouls, helping our kids score chocolate and sweets from ordinary humans, and listening carefully to every bang, rustle and clank in the shadows. But how can we explain our continued fascination with all things ghastly and spectral? Stories of spirits and otherworldly entities have run through all cultures since the dawn of civilisation, woven and overlapping with stories that seek to explain death and the journeys we take after our mortal race has run.

The most compelling and persistent story is that of the ghost: from Pliny the Elder in ancient Rome describing a spectre with rattling chains, to Hamlet’s father in Shakespeare, all the way up to the Victorian tales of Charles Dickens and Henry James, and the contemporary tales of modern Hollywood, such as Ghostbusters, Paranormal Activity and the Blair Witch Project. But what exactly is a ghost? Is there as scientific basis for them? Is it possible to find out? Should we even question such an ancient and mysterious phenomenon, or should we perhaps accept that some things at the fringes of our understanding are meant to remain there, tantalising, but always out of reach?

Science, as it tends to do, has had a good stab at trying to define the ghost. Here are some ideas that experts have touched upon over time:

SUGGESTION. It appears that people are more likely to report paranormal activity if they believe a location is haunted. Studies have shown that groups of people shown around old buildings will react differently based on the information they have been given: those that have been told the location is haunted nearly always report more ghostly goings-on than those who have been told there is no spectral infestation. There is also the possibility that our will and power of belief is much stronger than once thought: simply wanting to see a spirit go bump in the night may be enough to create something in the mind that appears—or perhaps is—real!

  ELECTROMAGNETIC FIELDS.  Some scientists have posited that pulsed magnetic fields—undetectable on conscious level—may be responsible for our perception of ghostly presences. The magnetic fields, it’s thought, could contribute to unusual patterns in the brain’s temporal lobes—a theory which other scientists have refuted, but nevertheless many ‘haunted’ locations do have unusual magnetic fields.

MOULD. Strange as it may sound, there is anecdotal evidence that toxins linked to mould growth can create hallucinations and visions, with other symptoms including irrational fear and dementia-like complaints. It’s not too much of a stretch to link classic haunted locations like unused castles or unkept houses to widespread mould growth, so perhaps there is something to this!

CARBON MONOXIDE. In the 1920s, a family reported a haunting after moving to an old house. After investigation, a leaky pipe was discovered, and carbon monoxide was blamed for the family’s ghostly hallucinations. There’s more than one reason to make sure your alarm is in working order!

OUIJA BOARDS. Hollywood has immortalised this spirit-summoning board-game where users move a planchette over a board covered with letters and words allowing a spirit to communicate from beyond and pass on a message for those they have left behind. The odd thing is—on many occasions, players’ hands do seem to move independently, giving rise to a fascination with the process, but scientists have insisted that these movements are involuntary, unconscious physical movements called the ‘ideomotor effect,’ where our bodies respond to our deep-rooted yearnings and desires without our brain giving instructions. Ghost-hunters will tell you that there are things that science can’t explain, and perhaps they are right. But I don’t dare take out a Ouija board to prove the experts wrong!

Well, in order to calm down after all that talk of ghastly ghouls, let’s take a moment to enjoy some lovely Hoogly tea. This month, we think it’s important warm up and rediscover one of our classic cuppas: Around the Fire Oolong Tea. One of our original blends, this customer favourite is perfect for the winter months, combining smoky leaves with safflower and crushed chilli, making this your go-to fiery friend!

To complement our Oolong, why not try Masala Chai black tea? Based on the iconic India brew, this rich and malty assam is blended with warm, aromatic spices to enchant your senses and stave off the frigid winter evenings! Brew it strong with milk and sugar to the complete Hoogly experience, allowing you to wind down, relax and let go of the day’s stress!

That’s it for this time, folks. Enjoy Halloween; fangs for reading!

Written by Chris Bedford

www.hooglytea.com

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RELAX

RELAX

After a long day at work, there’s nothing better than kicking your shoes off at home and finally being able to unwind. Everyone has their own ways to de-stress and chill out, but I think most of us would admit that the easiest (and often the most satisfying) thing to do is to slump on the couch with the TV remote and disappear into a good box set or movie. But if you find that Netflix and ice cream doesn’t always get the job done, then why not try a few activities that will make you happier, healthier and more productive in the long run?! 

 

1. Exercise: This might seem like a ludicrous suggestion after a long, draining day in the office, but it is well known that running can keep your brain young, reduce anxiety and improve your mood. If you’re not the jogging type, then try a brisk walk, listening to your favourite podcast or audio book, and burning some calories while you enjoy the fresh air.

 

2. Read: This is a wonderful way to escape the worries of everyday life, plus it has the added benefits of helping to improve your memory, reduce stress and increase your attention span. Try a genre or style that you normally wouldn’t choose, and you’ll be surprised what exciting surprises the literary world has to offer!

 

3. Cook: Some people (myself included) find cooking incredibly stressful, but for others, following a recipe and measuring out ingredients is an extremely therapeutic hobby, boosting creativity, mood and a sense of control. Plus, you (hopefully) end up with something delightful at the end of the process, preferably something big and cakey.

 

4. Clean: Another counter-intuitive suggestion, but this chore can actually work wonders for your mental health. Tidying, organising and decluttering your personal space allows you to view your home as more restful, clearing out the chaotic thoughts that can often mirror the environment around you.

 

5. Journal: There are many benefits to journaling, including organising your thoughts, helping to purge your mind of repetitive thoughts or anxious feelings, and better understanding yourself and your emotions. The act of writing is itself mindful: even if you’re only drawing simple shapes or letters, it’s a nice way to focus your concentration, noticing the way the pen or pencil interacts with the paper, paying attention to how you feel as you create, and allowing yourself to enjoy the moment.

 

6. Digital detox: It’s always a good idea to ration your screen time, but especially so after a hard day of checking emails and conjuring spreadsheets. It’s important to cut off from the working day where possible, allowing your mind to have the rest it deserves, and focussing on the people and things around you. Do this often enough, and you may find that your mood improves, as well as your sleep, leaving you feeling more refreshed and ready to face the working day.

 

7. Drink a cup of Hoogly tea. Obviously, we’ve saved the best for last! Having a cuppa after work is one of life’s great pleasures, but at Hoogly, we take things to the next level, providing a relaxation sensation that is hard to match! Our teas are lovingly crafted with your mindfulness as our top priority, allowing you to unwind in luxury, enjoying our scintillating scents and tantalising tastes. With this is mind, allow us to present a glorious pick-me-up for the autumn months: Tiramisu black tea! This Italian-inspired masterclass is an indulgent blend of Sri Lankan black tea, coffee beans and cocoa, dazzling your senses with a rich and creamy taste that will soften the blow of the shortening days and reluctant sun. 

 

That’s it for now, Hoogly fans. Keep a look out for the Hoogly Tea Lodge in Preston Park, opening soon to offer the people of Sussex (and beyond) their fix of beautiful brews, classic cakes and a gorgeously laid-back atmosphere packed with Hygge charm. I was fortunate enough to be invited for a sneak preview of the venue, and I was blown away by the friendly team and the quality of the products on offer. If you get the chance to check it out, you will leave with a smile on your face, guaranteed!

 

Written by Chris Bedford

www.hooglytea.com

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A Little Bit of You-Time with Hoogly

A Little Bit of You-Time with Hoogly

Have you ever looked at the clock and it seems to be moving backwards? The passage of time is a strange phenomenon; we all remember occasions when it screams past too quickly—but when it’s sluggish and ugly, it can do weird things to the hands of a clock, or the digital readout on a watch. 

Waiting for a delayed train is one of my personal, time-bending bugbears. Or perhaps labouring through a tedious project at work. Maybe even during a date with a person who is totally wrong for you: a quick glance at the watch to see that seven minutes has elapsed, and you were sure it was two hours. 

Sometimes having the kids home in the summer holidays can feel like this. And especially so after the yawning time-chasms of the national lockdowns, where many parents and guardians became full-time educators as well as boredom-fixers. Six weeks is a long time in anyone’s books, but with littles one around all day long, demanding to be fed, to go on adventures, to play games and to do it now, then the pressure can build on those poor souls looking after them.  What’s worse is the debate and controversy about foreign travel, which has kept many families grounded, unable to get away and put their feet up in the sun. And I haven’t even mentioned the poke-nudge-tantrum when it comes to screens: one family app calculated that parents will be hounded 521 times over the holidays about getting behind a phone, tablet or console. That’s some high-quantity pestering! It can be expensive too, with working parents seeing the bills mount up for childcare and holiday camps—a prospect that is difficult to swallow after the financial and career uncertainty caused by the pandemic.

One thing you can be sure of, dear readers, is that the time will pass, the kids will eventually have a nap or go to bed, and the summer holidays will end. And at the end of the day, when you’ve finally got the couch and the remote to yourself; when your back aches and your head is throbbing; when your feet are blistered from hiking and your hands are sticky from glitter and glue—remember that you’ve earned yourself this time. You deserve the rest—and you deserve the most luxurious treat to accompany your me-time.

And this is where Hoogly tea comes in!

Our Hygge-inspired brews were created with mindfulness and relaxation at their core; they are liquid tranquillity, luring you in with tantalising aromas, before leaving you spellbound with an array of delicious tastes. Our teas are the perfect way to unwind and let go of the shrieking madness of the day-gone-by. Hoogly moves at your pace. It won’t bug you; it won’t tug on your shirt; it won’t demand Minecraft or Fortnite. It will, however, leave you yearning for another cup, drawn in by the naturally healthy and vegan ingredients, woven together in original and elegant ways, and dazzled by the way it makes you feel. You can even rely on Hoogly to look after the environment while you chill, with our plastic-free bags and ethically sourced, fair-trade ingredients!

But if a cup of spectacularly delicious tea just won’t get you there—why not try our seriously indulgent Salter Caramel hot cocoa?! Using Himalayan salt and coconut nectar sugar, this sweet treat is the ultimate way to put the day behind you, with more warmth and comfort than a childhood blanky!

That’s it for now, tea lovers! Good luck with the rest of the holidays, and remember to flip on the kettle whenever you need little bit of Danish delight from Hoogly!

Written by Chris Bedford

www.hooglytea.com

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What are you afraid of…?

What are you afraid of…?

I suspect it’s fair to say that most of us are afraid of something. Some people can’t cope with heights; others run a mile at the sight of a spider; a large number of us are scared of the dark; and who doesn’t hear the dum-dum, dum-dum theme song from Jaws whenever you swim out a bit far in the ocean? My personal fear is people wearing large animal heads. Some people say that’s irrational and tease me about it—but when the bunny-men come for us all, they won’t be laughing, will they?!

But there is one lesser-known fear that we at Hoogly would like to draw attention to today. In fact, it’s more than a fear: it’s actually a phobia—and one that goes to the very heart of what we do as a company…

Tepidophobia

This is the fear of a badly-made cup of tea.

I think we at Hoogly all suffer from this in various degrees. The thought of a bad cup of tea brings us out in a sweat. We strive for perfection, and this means putting a smile on our customer’s faces with every brew. So we understand the feeling of dread that can mount when entering someone’s home for the first time and hearing the kettle rumble and puff, wondering if the person making the cuppa will ask how you take it. Will they mention the dunk-time? If they don’t, is it a faux-pas to bring it up? Just a quick in-and-out for me, mate. Or perhaps: Leave the thing in there; I like it as close to coal as possible. And what about the milk? A cup of tea can be savaged by inappropriate dairy levels. And what creaminess, too? Full-fat, green or red-top? Or perhaps no milk at all? Do they have alternative milks? Oat, almond, soya? And we’ve not even considered how long the kettle is allowed to cool down before being poured. So much to think about. But then you’ve found yourself in an engrossing conversation; the tea has not been drunk—it’s gone cold on the side. Don’t worry, your host says. I’ll bung it in the microwave. Your heart begins to pulse. The terror moves over your skin like a snake. Don’t do it, you try to communicate with your eyes whilst smiling. Thanks very much, you actually say, because you’re a good person. And now they’ve gone to all that effort—opening the microwave door and twiddling the knob—you’ll have to drink it. Muddy, creamy, overboiled, cold and reheated tea. Maybe you can’t be friends with this person, after all. It’s all been a horrible mistake. Ping…

Should have asked for herbal.

Should have asked for Hoogly!

We get it, tea lovers. We’re on your side. We want to take the fear away—and we invite you to discover our hygge-inspired range of mindful teas, perfect for sweeping away those stressful thoughts, calmed by the knowledge that our teas smell and taste delicious every time.

Introducing…Apricot Blossom White Tea. The perfect accompaniment to an afternoon tea, this blend of downy leaves, Chinese Pai Mu Dan and green tea is drenched in summery soft-stone fruit flavours, creating an elegant elixir for the pain of a mediocre restaurant cuppa.

Revive your senses this summer with Citrus Bloom Herbal Infusion! Luscious lemony notes are complemented by the tantalising trio of peppermint, rosemary and sage, rounded off with the sweet warmth of scattered fennel seeds. This elegant brew is perfect for parties and barbeques, keeping those long, lazy evenings alive with a bit of Hoogly magic.

Finally…fall in love with a rose. Our gorgeous, aromatic Rose Blush White Tea brings the glamour of nature to your mug, with pink rosebuds creating a luxuriously lavish floral taste, combined with subtly sweet grassy tones. This is a drink to share with someone special; and, yes, that includes treating yourself to some well-deserved Hoogly time!

That’s it from me on Freedom Day! Stay safe, enjoy the sunshine and don’t forget to add a bit of Danish delight to your tea collection!

Written by Chris Bedford

www.hooglytea.com

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A Flask of Freedom

A Flask of Freedom

As I write this, the evening sun is painting the garden gold, and the sky is a perfect, limitless blue. There is a gentle breeze caressing my face and the enthused chitter of birds from hedges and bushes. From the neighbour’s garden, a sprinkler swivels and whispers as it shoots out a misty haze. At the back of the neighbour’s yard, they have a pond, where a loved-up pair of ducks have just produced eleven chicks, little bundles of fluff who follow their parents about with adorable clinginess, as Mum and Dad quack aggressively at any perceived threat. On the TV, another match from Euro 20/21 is about to start, the second of three today, following England’s opening win. This is a decidedly lovely day.

Alas, Freedom Day has been postponed—we have one last push to get back to normal—but, on a day like this, I don’t feel as though I can complain. As it stands, things feel nice and Hoogly. The dog is chewing the plastic washing liquid cup, because it was there, and my wife is reading a novel about a husband who lies and cheats and then tries to kill his Mrs, which I try not to take personally. The only thing that’s missing from this scenario is something refreshing. Something delicious to accompany this glorious weather. Something simple, straightforward and moreish.

I expect you’ve guessed that I already have the answer to this conundrum! Yes, it’s none other than Hoogly’s dazzling selection of Iced Teas!

To make a family-friendly and summery iced tea for four, do the following:

 

  • Place four Hoogly Tea Bags in a 1 litre jug.
  • Add boiled water until the jug is a third full.
  • Brew for five minutes.
  • Pop some cold water in until the jug is two-thirds full.
  • Add some ice and fresh fruit for extra pazazz!

 

Now for the fun part: which Hoogly blends to use for your cosy cup of chill?

 

For a bit of zest and fire, why not start off with Lemon and Ginger herbal infusion? This energising customer favourite tastes like sunshine and smiles, and can be ratcheted up a few levels by adding lemon zest and grated ginger!

 

For a playful party piece, why not bring out Berrylicious herbal infusion? Bursting with beautiful berries, this dynamic drink builds to a fruity crescendo, before giving way to the rich, caramelised notes of dandelion root. To be especially fancy, add strawberries and raspberries, and you’ll have a sweet sensation that will thrill your family and friends!

 

For a cooling, calming alternative, why not try Chill Out Mint herbal infusion? This invigorating menthol cuppa is especially good for those who have overdone it at the barbecue, offering a soothing fix for full bellies, whilst giving you a fresh and bracing way to unwind and relax after a hard day’s sunbathing.

 

If Iced Teas are not your…um, cup of tea…then why not try a cheeky Hoogly lolly?! We’ve got the perfect flavours to make this traditional treat work: simply brew your bags for twice the usual time, pour the contents into a mould, and then leave in the freezer overnight!

 

For a bit of traditional Hoogly charm, why not try Danish Pastry Rooibos? This riff on the Danish national treat creates a sumptuously sweet lolly, with a chocolate and cinnamon scent, and a cheeky pastry taste!

 

Our next succulent summer sensation is Raspberry, Liquorice and Lavendar black tea! Sharp raspberries combine with super-sweet liquorice, sprinkled with lavender flowers for a flesh and floral twist. Pick this one out the freezer when you want a delicate and delicious treat that will thrill your taste buds!

 

Our final lolly-licious pick is Baked Apple Chai black tea! The Sri Lankan base flavour is overflowing with the combined charms of apple, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves, giving you an exotic frozen adventure! This one is perfect for the grown-ups amongst you, full of subtle charm and elegance, ideal for dishing out to guests on those baking summer afternoons.

 

That’s it for this time, sun-lovers. As freedom approaches, remember to stay hydrated, wear sun cream and, most importantly, be Hoogly to each other!

Written by Chris Bedford

www.hooglytea.com

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A New Page

A New Page

Greetings Hoogly fans! I hope you are all safe and well. Since the last blog I’ve had my first vaccination jab, which was an extraordinarily efficient process, with hundreds of people being manoeuvred with military precision through a large hall, with the whole thing (including the fifteen-minute precautionary post-jab wait) only taking about half an hour. Remarkable work by the healthcare and admin teams, and another step closer to freedom. Fingers crossed things continue to look so positive!

In the meantime, I reckon it’s time to once again delve into the delights of the literary world, discovering which books are the new must-reads as the summer season approaches. Books have been a much-treasured lifeline for many over the lockdowns, their escapism and immersion so much more pointed and urgent than in regular life, giving us an opportunity to relieve a bit of pressure from the valve that steadily builds in confinement. In fact, one of the silver linings of my time on furlough was the ability to read a lot more, which creates the space to try new authors and genres, something that can be the most unexpectedly pleasurable and satisfying experience, and one that people often wish they had tried earlier.

For me, the discovery was American author Anne Tyler, a name I had seen countless times on bestselling lists and on bookshelves, but whose book covers and plots had never appealed to me. I sat down with a mug of Hoogly Earl Grey and started a book called ‘A Spool of Blue Thread,’ which is about three generations of a family in Baltimore, their loves and losses, their triumphs and successes, and the way each generation impacts on the next. I instantly fell in love. Tyler has a forensic understanding of family dynamics; her characters are all relatable, their decisions—good and bad—mirror our own, and we feel their sorrow and joy, crying and laughing with them. Humour, in fact, is sprinkled lovingly throughout the book, with seemingly every other line infused with a wry smile or a wink to the reader, which offers a counter-balance to the more emotional scenes, some of which you have to read a few times to properly understand how beautifully crafted, meaningful and poignant they are. Tyler writes, in fact, just as many of us experience family life: with love and fun, intersected with thunderbolts of drama, woven together with compassion, comfort and few unwelcome surprises! I heartily recommend all of her many novels; you couldn’t find a more Hoogly author if you tried!

So what books are making a splash as we speak? Our first Hoogly recommendation is ‘The Lamplighters’ by Emma Stonex. Inspired by true events, this is the story of three lighthouse keepers who vanished from their lighthouse in 1972, with the entrance door locked from the inside. Within the walls, the clocks have stopped; the weather log speaks of a terrible storm, but the skies have been calm all week. Twenty years later, a writer approaches the women the keepers left behind and invites them to tell their story. As they confront their darkest fears, the truth begins to surface… With critical and popular acclaim, ‘The Lamplighters’ is going to be a must-read novel for the summer ahead!

Our next pick is a stunning mash-up of genres. ‘The Devil and the Dark Water’ by Stuart Turton is a historical mystery thriller with elements of crime and the supernatural. It takes place in 1634 as the world’s greatest detective Samuel Pipps is being transported as a prisoner to Amsterdam aboard an East India Company merchant vessel. Almost as soon as the ship leaves the harbour, the devilry begins, with strange symbols appearing on the sails, a dark figure stalking the decks, and animals being slaughtered. Can Pipps and his faithful bodyguard solve an impossible theft and a brutal murder before the ship’s passengers descend into terror and anarchy? The author brings the scenes vividly to life with acute observed details and a poetic descriptions, drawing you into the era and the setting from the very first page, and then carrying you along on a wild and scary ride as the super sleuth follows the clues and battles enemies real and imagined! If you fancy something inventive and different, this is the book for you!!

For kids around ages 9-12, we highly recommend ‘Harklights’ by Tim Tilley. This is the story of Wick, who lives in the terrible Harklights Match Factory and Orphanage, working without rest for Old Ma Bogey. As he dreams of escape, he happens across a tiny baby in an acorn cradle. As midnight chimes, Wick is visited by the Hobs, who are miniature protectors of the forest, who thank Wick for taking good care of the baby. But their gratefulness does not end there: the Hobs offer Wick an amazing opportunity—escape from Harklights and start a new life and adventure with them in the wild! This is a beautiful book, extremely Hoogly in its themes of friendship, family and the natural world, and offering a much-needed message of hope during the difficult times we have all experienced. Kids will love the world that is created inside the covers, and will embrace the Hobs and their urgent need to protect the world around them.

As for the perfect accompaniment to your literary treasures, look no further than a beautiful mug of Hoogly tea! We can’t think of better way to relax and wind down than to pick a cosy nook of your home, curl up with a good read and sip a delicious brew while you immerse yourself in a good story. How about kicking off the summer with a cup of Spiced Orange herbal infusion?! This is a zesty sensation that sings of sunshine, combining fruit and mulled spices to create a taste that will thrill you during those long, warm nights with friends and family!

For something a little different, why not try Blueberry Muffin Rooibos? This tantalisingly toasty brew is infused with sweet berry tones to recreate a classic naughty treat, perfect to accompany breakfast, or as a Hoogly mindful moment at any time of the day as it’s naturally caffeine-free! Sure to become your new favourite cuppa—and as restrictions ease, it will become your guests’ favourite too!

That’s it for now; take care of yourselves, pop the kettle on and stay Hoogly!

Written by Chris Bedford

www.hooglytea.com

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A Flask Of Freedom

A Flask Of Freedom

After months of restrictions, at the time of writing, the country is cautiously opening up. What a long, arduous stretch it has been! Things we used to take for granted have become like a vaguely familiar dream: heading to the shops, meeting someone for a chat, hitting the gym. But now many of the things that brought us a sense of normality and joy are slowly returning, and we can look forward to more freedoms coming our way, should everything go as planned.

What are you most looking forward to doing? Personally, I can’t wait to get a haircut. My wife has done a commendable job with my electric beard-trimmer, and while my hair looks OK with a ‘grade zero’, when it grows back, I look a little like a Lego man with a clipped-on wig. Which is fine when you’re locked down and not seeing anyone—but now I’m about to be viewed in public again, the experts will need to take a good look at my barnet! And I’m also looking forward to getting my ear hair removed by flaming tabs as they do at my barbers. There’s always an accompanying sense of smug satisfaction that I survived the experience without crying.

The opening of gyms is also a most welcome change. I’ve managed to keep myself fairly healthy over the lockdown, but there’s only so many times you can do the same jogging routes—or run up and down the stairs like there’s an emergency—without getting a little weary of the same old routine. It will be wonderful to take a dip in the pool once again, and perhaps try some weights. I can also resume my new-found love of racket sports, although I have much more enthusiasm than I do ability, but it’s certainly a more pleasurable and competitive way to keep fit than trying to beat my personal best time  to the local Tesco and back. 

Tesco, Tesco. The little trooper soldiering on throughout the crisis. A big shout-out to those brave and inspirational workers who kept us fed and watered throughout the pandemic; they really are heroes who deserve all the praise and plaudits that they get. But it will be nice to see another shop. Any other shop. And it will be nice to browse. Such an odd thing to miss, when so much has been taken away, but the ability to breeze freely in sections and shelves, unmolested by online ads or emails, seeing how items actually look in real life, gauging how they would look in your hand, or your living room, or your wardrobe. Don’t get me started on bookshops. Browsing was invented for bookshops, or vice versa, and there is nothing quite like the smell and the feel of physical books, combined with the sea of spines that sit tantalising on the shelf, urging you towards your next literary treasure or discovery. I know I have to budget. I really do. But it’s been so long.

So long since we sat outside and had a pint together. Sharing our stories, our highs and lows, with the ones we love and cherish, enjoying something tasty—maybe even a little naughty—that we haven’t had to prepare. Even though it might be a bit chilly on some days, the return of outdoor hospitality is a welcome boost for both punters and owners, and a great barometer of how far we’ve come, and of all the sacrifices we’ve made, and the liberties these sacrifices have earnt. If cheesy chips don’t help put the last year behind us, then what will?

Well, Hoogly tea, for a start. If you’re not going to the pub, but you are meeting friends of family outdoors for a chat, a walk or a picnic, then fill up a flask with one of our warming and delicious brews, and enjoy the mindful tranquillity that Hoogly does best! You can’t go wrong with our broad and eclectic collection, including traditional teas, herbal blends and even hot cocoa! We aim to put a smile on your face with every sip, and what better way to celebrate the easing of restrictions that to enjoy a cosy cuppa in the midst of nature?! While the air is still nippy, we heartily recommend Around the Fire Oolong tea, a warming and smoky combo of tea leaves and spices, licked by the flames of safflower and crushed chilli to keep you fiery while everyone around you adds extra layers. Or how about Earl Grey black tea, our Hoogly riff on a classic brew, balancing Sri Lankan leaves with bergamot oil, complemented by a cheeky twist of lemon peel and orange blossom. This is my personal favourite of our collection: a dependable and delicious old friend that always hits the spot. Perfect to enjoy on your own, but equally fun to share. Just keep a firm grip on your box of teabags—once your friends get a taste, they’ll be after more!

So that’s it, tea lovers! Until next time, stay safe and be Hoogly to each other!

Written by Chris Bedford

www.hooglytea.com

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FIKA-ing it out

FIKA-ing it out

 

We all know how amazing hygge is: the Danish hard-to-translate word conjures images of candles, fluffy socks and sweet treats. Hygge is a state of mind, and it effuses every cup of tea that Hoogly creates, giving tea-lovers a wonderful sense of cosiness, tranquillity and relaxation—but the Danes are not the only ones who have a little bit of magic up their sleeves. In Sweden they have a rival to hygge, a revolution that is now going global, with a tradition that shares a lot of traits with hygge. Today, we’d like to introduce you to Fika.

Like Hygge, Fika can be used as a verb (We’re Fika-ing today, people!) or a noun (It’s time for Fika!) and it basically means to meet, have a coffee and a chat. It can be done at any time of the day, and can last as long as several hours. It’s also a hugely popular treat for workers during business hours. It will surprise very few of you to learn that Fika is very therapeutic. Pausing from the hectic schedule, munching down on a cinnamon bun and having a hot drink while sharing a nice catch-up is beneficial to productivity, keeping minds fresh and in good spirits. So ingrained is Fika in Swedish culture that some firms add a contract clause stating that workers are entitled to Fika rast (coffee breaks!)

How did Fika come about? It’s thought that the origin of the word is a reworking of the syllables of ‘kaffi,’ the old spelling of coffee. Originally, the coffee was the centre of the ritual. Over time, fikabröd (fika bread) become just as important, the home-baked and fresh cakes tied in to the joyful social aspect of sharing something sweet and enjoying the moment together.

In the 1940s, guests who popped by for Fika were treated to something special. The finest china was on show, no help was needed with the washing up, and thanks to the best-selling book “Sju Sorters Kakor” (Seven kinds of biscuits), seven different types of cakes or biscuits were an obligatory presentation. Six was lazy, eight was showing off! ”Sju Sorters Kakor” is now part of Swedish culture, with each household squirreling away up to four copies, with Swedes firmly believing it’s the most influential book since the bible. There is a fear that Sweden may, in fact, sink in to the sea, due to the excess copies of this Fika literary treasure.

There are so many sweet options to choose from while you Fika, but a good place to start is the princess cake (prinsesstårta). This globe-shaped indulgence consists of a sponge base topped with vanilla pastry cream and oodles of fluffy whipped cream. It will often be enrobed with green marzipan, and crowned with a pink marzipan rose. Some modern bakers will add a thin layer of raspberry jam, although many original recipes omit it!

When summer rolls in, the jordgubbstårta comes out. This luxurious strawberry cake is a combination of sponge, vanilla cream and strawberry jam, covered in whipped cream and a pile of fresh, moist strawberries.  Chocolate-lovers will be drawn to the kladdkaka (sticky cake) a gooey and rich delight, again balanced with whipped cream and fresh berries.

The kanelbulle—cinnamon bun—is a Swedish classic, served in most cafes and bakeries, and an all-time favourite amongst Fika fans. The heavenly fragrance lures you towards its filling, soft and bready body, offering the perfect treat to share with your Fika friends. (I’ll share the moment, but not the cake. Hands off, mate…)

Of course, we at Hoogly approve of Fika—but we would cheekily swap out the coffee for one of our delicious and relaxing teas, of course. And what better brew to enjoy a Scandinavian chit-chat break than Danish Pastry herbal infusion? Riffing on the Danish national treat, this wonderfully warming indulgence is infused with a chocolate and cinnamon aroma, and a deliciously comforting pastry taste. It will seduce tea (and Fika) lovers over and over again!

Alternatively, why not try Apple Strudel green tea—a classic combination of juicy apples and sweet spices, blended with Chinese and Japanese roasted green tea, creating a potent mix of authentic tradition and sweet modernity. Your Fika breaks have never tasted so good!

That’s it for now, Hoogly fans. I hope you all remain safe and well as we look forward to opening up and sharing Fika and Hygge as they were meant to be!

Written by Chris Bedford

www.hooglytea.com

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Well, I never brew that!

Well, I never brew that!

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you guys, but tea is extremely popular. Our favourite beverage is consumed at a ridiculous rate in the UK—some 165 million daily cups, which equates to over 60 billion a year. Worldwide, tea grows in fifty-two countries—and the oldest Chinese tree is over three thousand years old! Did you know that all teas come from the same plant? The sub-tropical evergreen camellia sinensis is native to Asia and is the origin of green, white, oolong and black tea; the difference being how the leaves are withered, rolled and heated—and which additional steps are taken before packaging. Black tea leaves are left to ferment until they become the required dark colour. Oolong’s process is similar, but each stage is quicker. Green tea is steamed or pan fried rather than fermented. White tea is the least processed, mostly being left to dry briefly in the sun before packaging preparation.

But what about herbal teas like peppermint, I hear you ask?! Herbal drinks are technically called ‘tisanes,’ which describe any tea-like herbal infusion made from seeds, nuts, berries, flowers, roots and leaves. Mint and lavender are amongst the most popular herbs used for tisanes, but they are called ‘tea’ more often than not. Combinations of tisanes and teas are very popular, infusing tea leaves with herbs and spices, like fruit in iced tea or cardamom chai. Many of Hoogly’s delicious recipes are made in this way, as we aim for the best possible combination of comfort, scent and taste!

Do you have a penchant for the finer things in life? The priciest teabag ever was created by Boodles jewellers to celebrate PG Tips 75th birthday. The diamond-encrusted bag was valued at £7000 and sold at a charity auction! In terms of expensive cups, China’s Tieguanyin oolong will set you back a wee bit, coming in at £1,500 per pound. On the plus side, the leaves can be brewed up to seven times before the flavour is lost. The reason for the high price is the leaves’ bright colour, their thick, crisp texture, the unique ‘ringing’ sound when the tea is poured, the nutty aroma and the extremely rich flavour!

Until the Victorian era, the English upper classes pronounced tea ‘tay.’ It was seen as being exclusively for the rich, and wealthy ladies would even resort to hiding the key to the tea caddy, or carrying it around their necks in an attempt to keep it away from the maids. Thankfully, tea nowadays is for everyone—but some of us are still extraordinarily particular about the way it is prepared. It is thought that 7% of people are so fussy about how they take their tea that they wouldn’t let anyone else prepare it. Are you a milk-first or bag-first person? Well, milk wasn’t even a factor for a long time. Early tea drinks only happened upon the famous combination as a result of trying to protect their fine porcelain: milk was added to remove some of the tea’s heat so that the cups wouldn’t crack. 93% of tea drinkers now add milk in the UK. In the Himalayas, it’s traditional to add yak butter to a milky black tea. The salt helps high-altitude inhabitants stay hydrated, and it’s so popular that po cha has become the country’s unofficial national beverage!

Tea has also had some surprising uses outside of brewing. Slightly damp tea leaves are sometimes rubbed on uncovered skin as a mosquito repellent. Tea has also been utilised as a natural dyeing cloth, a floor cleaner, meat marinade and to patch up shaving cuts! As if that wasn’t enough—gardeners can often be found using tea leaves for their roses, which love to absorb the leaves’ nutrients through the soil. Tea can also accelerate the process of decomposition on a compost pile. And you thought a Swiss Army knife was versatile!!

Now allow us to recommend our very own versatile selection of relaxing and cosy brews to carry you through the tail-end of winter and lead you into the promise of sunnier skies and happier times ahead! For those of you still shivering and dressed in sixteen layers, stick the kettle on and settle yourself down with a cup of Around the Fire Oolong tea. This reliable customer favourite is cockle-warming combination of smoky tea leaves and hearty spices, licked by flames of safflower and complemented by the fiery charm of crushed chilli. The unique taste will dazzle your senses and the calming warmth will help alleviate the stresses and strains of everyday life.

For those who like to unwind with a sweet treat, why not indulge in our delicious Blueberry Muffin tea? This gorgeous toasty rooibos, infused with succulent fruity delights, is naturally caffeine-free and can be enjoyed at any time of the day. The perfect companion to a good book or TV show!

And finally, for those who enjoy zen and balance in all things, we invite you to discover our amazing Vanilla Chai black tea. In this tantalising brew, bold and fiery chai spices are tempered by smooth and luxurious vanilla, creating the perfect measure of calm, warmth and relaxation. Once you’ve finished the first cup, you’ll want to experience the thrilling sensation again and again.

Until next time, Hoogly lovers… stay safe, enjoy your teas and tisanes, and remember to create a little hygge in your life!

Written by Chris Bedford

www.hooglytea.com

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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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