Hoogly Blogs

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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Going vegan

Going vegan

At Hoogly Tea, we adhere to the Danish ethos of Hygge: a cosy, relaxed way of living that challenges us to focus on the things we love the most, and asks us to incorporate these things into our life as much as possible in order to be regain balance and tranquillity. It is an ethos that allows us to indulge in fluffy socks and naughty treats. It inspires us to create a soft nook of joy in our house, and spend all day reading, or invite friends and family around to bond over board games and baking. It reminds us to explore the beauty and restorative joy of nature, and releases us from the stresses of the everyday slog, while whispering gently in our ear: be kind to yourself.  It’s no surprise that the Danes, who created Hygge, are amongst the happiest people on the planet, and through our range of Hoogly teas, we wish to pass on this happiness, making the flick of the kettle switch a starting point for a whole new—and more mindful—way of experiencing the world.

And in the spirit of exploring new ways of looking at the world, Hoogly is proud to announce our recent Vegan certification, meaning that our entire range is now both Vegan and Gluten-free! We know there are a lot of Vegan Hoogly fans out there, and we’d like to take this opportunity to say hello, thank you for your support, and to talk a little bit about the lifestyle that over three million people in the UK have adopted.

Veganism, in essence, is about making a series of choices in both diet and lifestyle that will help alleviate animal suffering and exploitation around the world, with particular focus on reducing animal slaughter, poor livestock living conditions, the use of animals for cosmetics, makeup, furniture or clothing, as well as attempting to counteract the negative effects of the meat and dairy industries on the climate and environment.

Excitingly, incorporating a plant-based diet can provide a variety of health benefits, and there are many reasons why this may be the case. Vegans avoid red and cured meats, which have been linked with colon cancer. In addition, plant-based diets tend to be higher in fibre, fruit and vegetables, consumption of which usually leads to better long-term wellness. Vegans are also statistically leaner than non-Vegans, perhaps owing to a lower consumption of saturated fats, which in turn may lead to a reduction in diabetes and heart disease.

One aspect of the plant-based diet that often surprises people is the way that cutting out dairy can improve health. Milk products have been linked to a number of chronic ailments, including acne, nasal congestion, digestive issues and migraines, and there are plenty of delicious alternatives to try if you wish to give it a go, such as almond milk, coconut milk and soy milk.

In terms of food, you can enjoy many of your favourite meals such as curries, pizzas, lasagnes, pasties and stews with wonderful, plant-based ingredients—not to mention a whole load of cakes, cookies and brownies! Nowadays there are a huge amount of resources available to give you mealtime ideas: bookshops have entire sections devoted to Vegan recipes, and you can find simple and effective recipes at the click of a button online. And speaking of the web, one of the great parts of adopting this lifestyle is networking with likeminded people on social media, sharing hints, tips and photos, as well as offering support and unity, and keeping the message at the forefront of people’s minds.

And the message is, at its heart, is to act with compassion—to our fellow beings as well as our planet—which is something that we at Hoogly are very keen to promote. For our part, we make all of our tea pyramid bags out of plant extract, which means they are fully biodegradable. It’s a small, very positive step, which, combined with other similar steps, will help us get closer to the kind of world we all wish to see.

Finally, as Summer draws near, we’d like to recommend a juicy June gem…Berrylicious herbal infusion. This fruity treat is bursting with the gorgeous flavours of apple, raspberries and strawberries, counterbalanced by the rich, caramelised notes of roasted dandelion root. So, drag out that deckchair, pop on your sunnies, and indulge in the luxurious taste of sunshine, smiles and endless balmy nights.

Disclaimer: Good weather not guaranteed. Umbrellas advised.

That’s all for now, Hoogly heroes. Be kind to yourself and others, and try adding a little Danish delight to your life…

 Written by Chris Bedford

www.hooglytea.com

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Viva Las Vegas!

Viva Las Vegas!

What a strange place Las Vegas is.

A city carved out of a desert. A place of luxury, glamour and wealth. A place of excess, extravagance and eccentricity. Where else would you find a replica of the Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower in the vicinity of a hotel shaped like a pyramid, and another like a Disney castle? And the hotels are not simply hotels, of course. They have shopping malls, and restaurants, museums and aquariums. They house sports venues, concert venues, computer game tournaments and conferences. And of course, they are home to the lifeblood of Las Vegas: the casino. The twinkling neon mazes that chime and whizz and clink, tempting and teasing you inside with the promise of gold, and keep you there with their clockless walls, free drinks, and smoky seduction. But the House always wins. Despite your best intentions, your secret strategies and your carefully calculated tactics, the chances are that you’ll leave with less than you came with. But that’s OK. You can console yourself with a magic act, or a comedy gig, or a burlesque show. You can learn about the history of atomic testing, the mob, and the sinking of the Titanic before indulging in a meal from any cuisine in the world. You can have waffles, ice creams, ice creams in waffles; pretzels, sausages, sausages in pretzels; milk shakes and cheesecakes watching Chippendale beefcakes. You can watch Celine Dion, or Lady Gaga, and see David Copperfield make things vanish. You can ride a rollercoaster or sit in a car leaning over a skyscraper. You can take a chopper to the Grand Canyon or the Hoover Dam, and you take a stretched Hummer to a nightclub just because you can. You can be yourself, or you can be someone else, or you can be no-one at all. A city of sin doesn’t sit in judgement. Just ask the Heart Attack Grill, where you eat free if you weigh over 350lbs.

As the cab drove away from Gatwick on my return, everything felt a little dull, muted and quiet. For a while, it felt wrong. Then, it felt absolutely right again. Vegas is unique, brazen and memorable, but it’s also like fever dream, where everything is faster, brighter, stronger—but also surreal and edgy and cauldron-hot. I was relieved to be back. Everything in moderation, as they say…but I’d jump at the chance to go again. The aces are high.

And now I’m back I’ll be indulging in a very English past-time: the glorious cup of tea! How I missed it in America! How strange to be denied easy access to such a simple pleasure in a foreign land, especially in a city that has everything for everyone. But now, at long last, the wait is over. I can drink Hoogly to my heart’s content, gently lowering myself from the highs of Nevada, and allowing the beautiful and tantalising tastes to transport me to a place of tranquillity and calm.

As the kettle rumbles and puffs, I begin to think about how Hoogly connects with Vegas. The luxurious quality of our teas, the indulgence, the elegance—like the finest hotels—crafted with the highest quality to bring pleasure and relaxation in equal measure. And the sheer range of tastes, like Vegas’s endless showcase of restaurants, offers something for everyone. Genmai Cha green tea from Japan; White Choc and Chilli—a creamy and sweet Chinese treat; Indian-inspired Masala Chai, delightful Danish Pastry Rooibos; classic English Breakfast black tea—not to mention a decadent collection of sweet and delicious treats, such as Spiced Orange and Berrylicious herbal infusions, Chocolate Brownie Black tea and Apple Strudel Green Tea!

Unlike the twinkling casinos, however, Hoogly is not a gamble. We guarantee you’ll love our seductive scents and gorgeously mellow brews, and that before long, you’ll refuse to go without our calming, cosy and mindful blends, infused with a touch of Danish Hygge!

Go on, roll the dice…you really can’t lose!

 Written by Chris Bedford!

www.hooglytea.com

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A Hoogly Year!

A Hoogly Year!

Is it me, or is it cold? Properly, bitterly, unacceptably freezing. The summer heatwave now seems like a bad joke, some distant dream involving t-shirts, Magnums and sleeping without a duvet. This morning it was the sort of temperature where getting out of bed seems like a direct contravention of my basic human rights; the sort of temperature where it wouldn’t be ridiculous to wear every single item of your clothing and ride a huskie sled to work. My greyhound has the right idea: he pokes his long nose out of the back door, assesses the climate, and promptly goes back to bed. His canine senses are telling him to prioritise survival over the comfort of his bladder or the filling of his tummy. If I suggest a walk, he looks at me as if I’ve just ripped up his favourite toy in front of him and binned his box of treats. So, we go back to bed, with a warm mug of Hoogly, of course, and wait for the sun to do its thing.

But this time of year is not all bad: we get to have some spooky fun with Halloween (big shout out to the Netflix series ‘The Haunting of Hill House,’ a brilliant story of families and ghosts to get you in the mood for the dark winter to come) In case you’re wondering, my Halloween costume this year will be a hibernating bear. If someone could kindly bring me some trick-or-treat chocolate to my cave, that would be splendid, thank you.

After Halloween we move to Bonfire Night. This is a truly Hoogly celebration, a way to get friends and family together all dressed up in cosy coats, scarves and fluffy socks. It’s a night for icy breath and wellington boots, of mesmerising orange flames and kaleidoscopic firework displays, of burgers and hotdogs with lashings of sauce. Unless it rains, in which case it’s a bit rubbish. But don’t worry you’ve always got a mug of our delightfully Danish tea to sustain you through the unpredictable weather.

And once we’ve navigated November, we move onto the serious stuff. The word that cannot be mentioned. The all-encompassing stress-monster. The jingling bells and familiar songs. The swathes of shoppers elbowing and bumping each other as they cross items their giraffe’s neck list. The day of gorging and regret, punctuated by the giving and receiving of gifts, and the repeat of a good film.

If you survive the-word-that-cannot-be-mentioned, you’ll then find yourself in January, a month of violent introspection and urgent self-improvement, with military-level supplies of fruit and veg stocked up to compliment our new regime of exercise, which we carry out in a manner that suggests we’re being chased down by a monster. Which is why our regime only really lasts until mid-January, February at best. Plus, we’re a bit hungry. For something other than carrots and quinoa.

And then it’s summer again, possibly another heatwave, beaches rammed with the same people who were brawling for presents in December, but this time with less clothes and more burnt skin and beer. At least you can go to work and come home again in daylight—which does improve the working day by 4-5% (the same percentage as getting a free coffee from the barista or discovering that the boss you dislike is off sick.) This is not quite as big as the 12-13% improvement in a working day when you are allowed to punch out early, especially if it’s a Friday and your extra free time bleeds into a weekend. As Mickey Flanagan says, we’re going out out! The list of things that make a working day worse are too long—and the percentages too big—to mention here, but we all know what they are. We’ll choose to ignore them in a burst of Hoogly mindfulness.

To summarise this rant, I would like to say that every season, every day, every moment is improved incalculably by flipping on the kettle and popping in one of our Hoogly tea bags. Bad moods, bad days, bad luck and bad bananas will fall away as you discover our tantalising variety of finely crafted treats, each designed to bring the cosy comfort of Hygge into your life, allowing you to become the centre of attention, the full focus of your relaxation, stripping away stress and strains as if they never existed. Whether you’re a traditionalist, an experimenter, a sweet-tooth or a smooth operator, there is something in our shop for everyone. You may even find the perfect gift for December, and it’s all just a couple of cosy clicks away!

Written by Chris Bedford, 

www.hooglytea.com

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Book yourself in for Hygge!

Book yourself in for Hygge!

Greetings Hoogly fans! I hope you’re bearing up well in these unacceptably frigid temperatures; all the steaming breath and numb fingers, the breeze that cuts your ears and the car-ice that makes you late.  Can anyone even remember the heat wave now? And apparently there’s snow on the way: I knew I should have chained myself to the sun-lounger last time I was in Spain. But it is what it is—and we’ll make the most of it, like we always do. Even though we have to take down the Christmas decs, and we’ve nearly run out of chocolate. Oh, the misery!

 

But there is hope! One pastime, in particular, is especially good for overcoming the January blues in true Hoogly style: the simple pleasure of reading! Hygge asks us to be cosy and comfortable, and to do the things we love, with the people we love, in the places we love. And what better way to snuggle up, escape to far-off lands and meet interesting characters than within the pages of a good book?! There is something unfailingly magical about the smell of a new book; the excitement of starting a new adventure, the way a good author taps into your imagination and emotions, allowing you to see and feel things outside of your ordinary experience, to test the boundaries of what is possible, to discover what it means to be human, and to share a connection with a group of people you will never meet, but can hold in your heart forever.

I say all this, of course, because I’m biased: not only do I love books, but I love that fact that you can share a book with a cup of tea! Is there greater happiness to be had than the sip-and-flick? The answer to that is: probably not—but it helps to have the right book and the right cup of tea. The tea of course, is the easy part, which we’ll come to a little later (spoiler alert: it’s Hoogly!) The right book, however, is a little trickier. But help is at hand, as it always is, from our Hoogly book club! For January, we’ve chosen two books we love as a starting point:

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn. This best-selling novel is about Anna, a former child psychologist, whose chronic agoraphobia has kept her inside her New York City apartment for ten months, bingeing on old black-and-white movies and watching her neighbours in other apartments. One day Anna hears a frenzied scream and witnesses something she wasn’t meant to see. Can she summon the strength to uncover the truth about what happened? Will anyone trust her? Can she trust herself? This is a wonderfully claustrophobic thriller, reminiscent of Hitchcock’s classic film Rear Window, but full of contemporary issues, destined to be enjoyed and talked about for a long time to come!

Our second choice is The Language of Kindness: a Nurse’s Story by Christie Watson. This memoir recalls Watson’s twenty-year career, including stints at Great Ormond Street hospital and St Mary’s hospital in Paddington. In an easy-to-read style, Watson explores what it means to be a nurse: an indiscriminate act of caring, compassion and empathy, and remembers moving and poignant stories from her career, including the miraculous survival of a premature baby. As the NHS continues to make headlines, this is a beacon of hope in troubled times, reminding us of the best in human nature and the power of love.

And while you’re enjoying those two wonderful books, you can get your feet up and chill with our glorious selection of cleverly crafted and cosy teas! As an accompaniment to The Woman in the Window, we recommend the thrilling indulgence of Danish Pastry Rooibos. This combination of chocolate, cinnamon and a subtle pastry taste will satisfy and seduce you, leaving you wanting more!

To accompany The Language of Kindness, why not try Classic Green tea?! This is a brew with great flavour and depth, and studies have shown it can be good for your health too! This elegant, clear liquor will bring clarity to any situation, and help remind you of what’s important in life.

So, until next time, enjoy your flicks-and-sips, and don’t forget to stay chilled, not chilly! 

Written by Chris Bedford

www.hooglytea.com

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Happy Brew Year!

Happy Brew Year!

Well, where on earth did 2018 go? It seemed to disappear quicker than a bag of Maltesers during a rom-com, and now we’re hurtling into a brand-new year, and all the hope, excitement and anticipation that a blank canvas brings. This is the time for resolutions: personal goals and milestones that will shape and effect our lives. Whatever nonsense, heartache and madness wider society throws at us, we can all try and keep ourselves on the straight and narrow, focussing on things we can control, at a pace we can manage. And it all sounds so simple, when you talk about it in the abstract. I’m definitely going to do it this year! January is the best chance to make a permanent change! I’ll treat myself to something special if I can stick to it! But when it gets down to the nitty gritty of actually bringing about real change, things can unravel quicker than a ball of thread in a kitten’s paws. Life, as they say, has a habit of getting in the way. There’s work, and stress, and urges, and withdrawals. There’s pangs and flings and go on, just one. Just when we think we have a slither of willpower, the cookie crumbles and everything falls apart.

But just what are these tasks that we chose to set ourselves? Here is a list of some of the most common New Year’s Resolutions so that you see how you compare!

-Get more exercise.

-Lose weight.

-Become tidier/more organised.

-Learn a new skill or hobby.

-Spend less money/save more.

-Quit smoking/drinking.

-Spend more time with friends and family.

-Go on more trips.

 

Any of those sound familiar? The first two are reasonably predictable; the indulgences of Christmas weigh, uh, heavily on our minds, and there is something akin to panic when January rolls around and your clothes no longer fit. Becoming tidier certainly applies to me: I’m a keen promoter of the floordrobe, and having a spare room to hide the crap I can’t be bothered to sort/file/tidy/sell. It’s one of my least favourite parts of my personality, but all hope is not lost. I certainly don’t need a new hobby, though, filling my house with more stuff. I just need to set aside a day to get it all done. Oh, but boxsets, and XBOX, and the pub…

The pub! Which, I guess, fits into the next two categories nicely: spending less money and quitting drinking. I don’t partake in alcohol myself, but for those that do, and who fancy trying a little bit less, you can find a lot info by Googling ‘Dry January’, a drive run by Alcohol Change UK.

Onwards to a very Hoogly resolution indeed: spending more time with friends and family! This is that cosy, snuggly sensation of Christmas all year round that the Danes wish to spread across the globe: the ringing of doorbells and the welcoming of guests, the baking of cakes and the burning of candles as we sit around in our socks and lounge pants and talk about silly things and failed resolutions.

And you can even use your final resolution to take a trip to Denmark to see how the masters Hygge things up!

So, how confident are you that you’ll stick to your resolutions? 50-50? 110%? About as likely as a rain-free 2019 in England? Well, whatever your outlook, give yourself a well-earned boost of happiness and resolve with a delicious brew of Hoogly Tea. We have a whole bunch of tasty flavours to keep you company while you transform yourself into a new person, from indulgent gems like Chocolate Brownie black tea, to the fruity brilliance of Berrylicious herbal infusion. Experience the globetrotting elegance of Darjeeling Afternoon and Masala Chai black teas, or treat yourself to a bit of Hoogly Heaven with Danish Pastry Rooibos. All of our brews are carefully crafted to help you unwind and find that perfect moment of calm and tranquillity in your busy day. And who knows, it may even give you the boost you need to take 2019 head on…and win!

Happy New Year from all at Hoogly Teas. Keep calm and pop the kettle on!

Written by Chris Bedford.

www.hooglytea.com

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Hygge Like A Hound!

Hygge Like A Hound!

This morning I went on a dog walk organised for greyhound owners, sloshing through muddy paths and climbing steep hills with about twenty enthusiastic sight hounds, all wrapped up in stylish and colourful coats to protect their thin frames from the winter temperatures. My seven-year old black greyhound started off nervously, but was soon joining in the ever-so-polite bottom sniffing and tail wagging with all his new friends, and soon leading the pack as we trekked through the countryside. It was marvellous to meet other greyhound owners, sharing stories about quirks and idiosyncrasies particular to the breed: sofa-hogging, roaching (lying upside in an ungraceful, legs-spread style), squirrel-chasing, fussy walking in bad weather, fussy eating when it’s not pilchards, and generally being asleep. All the time. Which is the biggest misconception about these beautiful animals: people assume that because they are such athletic sprinters that they must require a lot of exercise, but in fact, they are more than happy with two twenty-minute walks a day. Mine will gladly bomb around in the garden, pretending a tennis ball or a teddy bear is some sort of prey, tossing it in the air, chasing it and chewing it, and last about five minutes before collapsing.

And when they are done, they are done. Greyhounds can sleep for up to 23 hours a day, and they make it an artform. Whether its curled up in a ball, lying lazily on their side, or roaching, greys can get comfortable just about anywhere, and usually do.  They know what they like and they like what they know, and everything is simple and straightforward that way.

Which is why I think they are a good example to follow for us Hygge fans! Hygge requires us to fill our lives with the people we love, to focus on the things that make us happy, and ensure that we repeat these things at every opportunity, not just on special occasions. Greyhounds know that they love their beds. They know that they loved their teddies and tennis balls, and that these things mean cuddles and playtime. They know that they hate the wind and the rain, and that it’s better to be warm and unconscious on the sofa. These are the rules, and they are adhered to. They are focussed on, and repeated. And it means that greyhounds are very cosy, happy creatures, unburdened by the sorrows that other dogs endure: hoping for another six walks, begging for fetch, yearning after a sausage. Greys are, mostly, above all that. Just sleep it off, they advise.  Try again when you wake up.

Now, I’m not advocating that we sleep 23 hours a day, as lovely as that may sound. Nor am I saying that two twenty-minute walks a day will solve all of our problems—although staying healthy and active does no harm. All I’m saying is: notice what you love—and who you love—and keep these things close. And then stick the kettle on and complete the process by indulging in our delicious Hoogly Tea range, made with all the comfort and cosiness of Hygge in mind. Our luxurious and eclectic range is the perfect way to keep the winter blues at bay, with traditional as well as exotic tastes to discover.

For something new and fabulous this Christmas, why not try Masala Chai black tea, combining iconic Indian Assam tea with warm aromatic spices to enchant the senses. Brew this dazzling cuppa strong with milk and sugar to experience the full taste sensation!

Moving eastward on our Hoogly global tea tour, why not give Genmai Cha green tea a whirl? Originally concocted by Japanese farmers, this refreshing delicacy combines Sencha green tea with toasted rice to create a unique brew that must be tried to be believed!

And finish the day with our decadent and sinfully seductive Chocolate Brownie black tea. This is as simple and delicious as it sounds, and will have you racing back to the cupboard with the speed of a greyhound to refill your mug!

That’s all for now, Hoogly lovers. Merry Christmas and a happy new year from all of us at Hoogly. Enjoy your nap! I know my greyhound will…

Written by Chris Bedford

www.hooglytea.com

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A new Christmas tradition!

A new Christmas tradition!

We all have our favourite Christmas traditions; the little moments and items that make the day extra special and unique, and the activities in which everyone joins in, creating a wonderful sense of togetherness and peace. These traditions form part of the fabric of December, an anchor in the seas of our busy lives, keeping us safely moored and reminding us that Christmas has thrilled our previous generations, and will continue to thrill future generations for years to come.

So what are our top 10 Christmas traditions?

-Christmas Cards! The first card was created in 1843 by the Post Office as a way of promoting its services, and now it’s a lovely, non-digital way of saying hello and offering the warmest of wishes in the coldest of months.

-Stockings! This comes from the legend of St Nicholas, the gift giver, who sent bags of gold down a chimney so that a poor man could pay for his unmarried daughters’ weddings. The gold ended up in some stockings that were being aired, and the tradition was created! The Dutch called St Nicholas Sinterklaas, which eventually transformed into the English Santa Claus!

-Mince Pies. Old Santa has a job to do, and he needs mince pies to fuel his trip! Initially inspired by Middle Eastern Cuisine brought back by Crusaders, this was originally filled with meat, but this ingredient had disappeared by Victorian times!

-Holly and the Ivy. Used in pre-Christian times in Winter Solstice celebrations, these enduringly popular plants offer a dash of colour in the dark winter months.

-Turkey. Originating in Mexico, these were popular with Henry VIII, and became a fashion in high society in the 19th century. It wasn’t until the 1950s that the turkey became a commodity that everyone could afford. Now they’re an integral part of many households on Christmas Day, and the correct way cooking this big bird is the cause of many yuletide arguments.

-Christmas Crackers. Invented by a sweet-maker in the late 1840s, these included riddles and mottos, but it wasn’t until the inventor made them ‘crack’ that sales really took off. Now the sound of the crack is traditionally followed by the reading of a bad joke, and the collective groan by those who bothered to pay attention.

-Christmas Pudding. Fruity, delicious, and sometimes on fire, this is an essential treat that no-one can fit in but rarely, if ever, refuse. Sometimes includes coins—or credit cards, because my Dad thought that was funny.

-Mistletoe. A pagan practice taken up by early Christians, this tradition of kissing under the mistletoe has its origins in England. A berry should be plucked for each kiss until none remains. Pucker up!

-Christmas Carols. Another pagan tradition swallowed up by early Christians, carols have been written throughout the centuries, but most of the familiar tunes were created in Victorian times. Contemporary Christmas music is played on loop in most public places from the 1st December, and has led some people to wear ear muffs.

-The Christmas Tree! These noble companions have been around for more than a thousand years, but the UK didn’t see one until the 1830s. Prince Albert put one up at Windsor Castle in 1841 and started a tradition that has created magic for every generation since. Caution: some people are very particular about where the decorations are placed, so if you value your life, don’t interfere. It’s just not worth it for bauble and tinsel.

And this year we warmly invite you to add a new tradition to your December celebrations: a mug of Hoogly tea!

Our delicious brews are designed to recreate the calm, cosy and indulgent pleasures of Hygge—the Danish way-of-life that has captured the imagination of millions, and helped the Danes consistently land a place at the top of the ‘world’s happiest people’ tables! Think of Hygge as Christmas all year round; a devotion to feeling peaceful, happy and comfortable by filling your house with things that bring you joy—cute lamps to add atmosphere, big fluffy pillows to lounge about on, and scented candles to add some spice. Hygge is about wearing your oldest, comfiest pyjamas and fluffy socks. It’s about making cakes and licking the spoon, without worrying about the calories. It’s about having friends and family over to share in your happiness and create laughter and memories together.

So if these things sound appealing, then condense them all into a mug and try a Hoogly tea this December. We’ve got some dazzling winter recommendations to warm your cockles: Spiced Orange herbal infusion, a zesty and fruity combo, coupled with mulled spices, offering the perfect accompaniment to a seat by the fire after Christmas dinner. Or how about Lemon & Ginger herbal infusion? Classic lemon and fiery ginger embrace each other in this energising brew that will give you just enough fuel to survive a game of charades before falling asleep in perfect comfort. Lastly, flip the kettle on for Around the Fire Oolong Tea. This is a lovely mix of the comforting and the exotic as smoky Chinese and Taiwanese tea leaves combine with safflower flames and crushed chilli for a kick that Rudolf would be proud of!

  Whatever your traditions are this Christmas, open your heart to Hoogly and make room for one more. We promise you won’t regret it!

Written by Chris Bedford

www.hooglytea.com

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