Hoogly Blogs / black teas

COME DINE WITH ME

COME DINE WITH ME

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by Chris Bedford, 

www.hooglytea.com

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A Clean Start

A Clean Start

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And…breathe.

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

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

So, how about our recommended tea of the week?

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

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

Written by Chris Bedford.

www.hooglytea.com

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Space for More Tea!

Space for More Tea!

With the arrival of the film ‘First Man,’ starring Ryan Gosling, our minds turn back to the heroic journey four astronauts took nearly fifty years ago on July 21st 1969, creating history as the first humans to visit the moon. The enormity of the achievement cannot be overstated: the technological and mathematical wizardry to launch human beings on such an audacious and precise mission, and to bring them back safely again; the skill, courage and determination of the astronauts on board; the pressure that the country was under politically—battling against Cold War rivals Russia to win the ‘space race’ and the sheer scale of the risks involved in plunging into the howling darkness and exploring new frontiers.

It’s one small step for man…one giant leap for mankind. These were Neil Armstrong’s famous words as he stepped foot on the moon’s surface—but what must have been going through his mind at the time? He was already an experienced pilot, having flown nearly two hundred types of aircraft, and completing seven gruelling years of training and missions since becoming an astronaut in 1962. But even for a hardened veteran, there is no precedent for placing your boot where no man has gone before. He must have experienced fear, anticipation, exhilaration, curiosity—not to mention all practical information and knowledge he needed in order to complete his mission. His training would have given him vital preparation, but as a human being, stray thoughts of his family and of home must have crept in—doubts as to whether he would ever see them again, and reflections on the phenomenal distance between himself and the planet on which he was born and raised, and the tremendous isolation that must create.

But in the end, Armstrong and the team completed the mission, and came home to a hero’s welcome (and 21 days in quarantine in case they’d come back with an unknown space disease!)

These days the frontiers have moved further outwards. The Mars One non-profit foundation aims to put one hundred human colonists on Mars by 2031. Candidates are currently being assessed under a wide range of criteria, including health, psychological stability, motivation, ability to work in a team, and resilience. The wellbeing and compatibility of the colonists are so important because the mission is a one-way trip. Mars will become these pioneers’ home; the first colony of its kind created to stretch the bounds of the possible, inspire future generations and bring the world closer together—just like the Armstrong and the Apollo 11 team in 1969. What an amazing achievement it would be—and what an extraordinary privilege and responsibility for those that make the journey. How do you come to terms with the fact that you will never see Earth again?  Leaving behind friends, family, loved ones. For some of us, this burden may seem insurmountable. But for the select few, the challenge, the thrill, the sheer audacity of the mission is too much to resist. Their names and achievements etched into the history books for all time—forever linked with courage, adventure and hope. As President John F Kennedy said in 1962: “We choose to go to the moon in this decade, and do other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”

  At Hoogly, we have a slightly different perspective. In fact, it’s exactly the opposite. We do things not because they are hard, but because they are easy. The inspiration behind our teas, Hygge, is all about enjoying the simple pleasures of life and incorporating them into your daily routines. Hygge is about relaxation and comfort. It’s about indulgence and treats. It’s about putting yourself first for once. It’s about being around the people that bring you joy. Going into space is a phenomenal, awe-inspiring achievement—but going around to your friend’s place for a cuppa is just as wonderful. The universe is full of mysteries, wonders and the unknown—but we love things that are familiar, cosy and safe.  And through our delicious range of brews, we want you to experience all these things too.

So, flip on your kettle, pull out a mug and embrace tantalising flavours such as Chocolate Brownie, Danish Pastry, Spiced Orange, Rhubarb & Vanilla, Marzipan Rooibos and Raspberry, Liquorice & Lavender. It’s one small sip of tea—one giant leap for tea-kind!

Written by Chris Bedford

www.hooglytea.com

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Tea at the Theatre!

Tea at the Theatre!

Going to the theatre is one of life’s rare treats. The excitement builds at home when the tickets or email arrives confirming your attendance, making it real. Then the anticipation ratchets up as you hear friends and co-workers rave about the show, and the critics continue to lavish it with praise. On the big night, you crack out your finest clothes, shoes and accessories and admire yourself in the mirror: you are ready for a big night out! When you arrive at the venue, you drink in the surroundings, admiring the ornate fixtures, the plush carpet, the history of the place. You imagine people from different generations, even a hundred or more years ago, treading the same well-worn path into the stalls. And then you see the stage—the curtains drawn back, the set perfectly arranged and painted, the props in place. The anticipation builds again until the lights dim and a voice announces that it is time to start.

It’s at this point that the real fun begins. The lights go up, the actors take the stage and the drama unfurls. You immediately sense how much more intimate and absorbing this set-up is than any television or film production. The drama takes place within touching distance, the actors speak, shout and sing as if they are communicating directly to you across a room. You can see their sweat, read the anguish or delight on their faces, even sometimes notice the glisten of their eyes.  You appreciate the imagination and craft of the props: the way one object can become many if viewed from a different perspective; the way a well-designed backdrop can imply depth and size that isn’t there; the way the lights add mood and focus and drama all of their own.

My favourite genre of play has to be the murder-mystery, especially the classic tales of Agatha Christie. From Murder on the Orient Express to And Then There Were None, Christie’s stories have thrilled theatre-goers for generations with their attention to period detail, eccentric and eclectic casts of characters, a famous sleuth trying to solve a murder, and a suspect list that includes everyone except the corpse. Even if you know the story (and the identity of the murderer) inside out, there is still enormous fun to be had watching the whole thing unfold—the deathly scream from another room, the discovery of a body, and delicate assessment of clues and statements until the killer is revealed. It is a tried and tested formula that works a treat every time.

Right now, you can experience an Agatha Christie play with a difference. Witness for the Prosecution is currently showing at London’s County Hall, which for 64 years served as the headquarters for local government in London. At the heart of the hall is the octagonal council chamber, which provided seating for over two hundred council members, as well as four press and public galleries which overlook the chamber. For the purposes of the play, the chamber is transformed into a court room, and you are invited pass judgment on the trial of Leonard Vole, accused of the murdering a widow to inherit her wealth. It really does feel as though you are witnessing a real trial—there are moments when you get so absorbed in the action you want to shout out—and the story of deceit, passion and betrayal is one of Christie’s best. So don’t be guilty of missing out on a unique and riveting theatre experience. Get yourself on jury duty right now!

And when you get home, why not treat yourself to a nice mug of Hoogly tea? Our delightful Danish brews have all the luxury and indulgence of the finest trip to the theatre, crafted to deliver an elegant and refined cuppa that combines Hoogly comfort with the thrill of something new.

You don’t even have to wait until you’re home! Why not take a flask of unapologetically decadent Chocolate Brownie black tea with you for a sweet treat in the interval? For a start, you’ll avoid the bar queue, and secondly, you’ll have a uniquely warming and delicious way to pass the time! If the drama is too much for you, why not calm yourself with Chill Out Mint herbal infusion? This is a classic brew, crafted with soothing menthol and mint, combined with fresh herbs to help settle and satisfy any tea lover!

So there you have it: for a brew that has all the seductive appeal, excitement and just-as-good-the-fifth-time-round star quality of the theatre, then the only choice is Hoogly!

Written by Chris Bedford.

www.hooglytea.com

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