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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!

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Cornish Delights!

Cornish Delights!

I recently crossed a longstanding item off my to-do list by visiting Cornwall, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made! From a base in West Sussex, the drive West was scenic and unhampered by traffic, offering a passing glimpse of the ancient structure of Stone Henge. As I passed the stones, evening fell, and there was some sort of event taking place, which caused Stone Henge to illuminate with flashing neon lights. While not exactly an authentic historical representation of English history, it was certainly eye-catching and an exciting way to get the holiday started!

On the first day I visited Tintagel, a picturesque village that is the stepping stone to a breath-taking walk encompassing stunning clifftop panoramas with links to the legend of King Arthur! You can visit the ruins of Tintagel castle, a medieval fortification, which offers a great insight into the past. If you’re feeling energetic, you can hike across to Tintagel island, whose vantage point offers an unparalleled view of the sea and surrounding verdant country. I chose to take the narrow, steep steps down to Tintagel beach—which offers a small cave, a waterfall, a gentle tide and, fortunately for me, a rare visitor in the shape of a sunbathing seal! Everywhere I went there was fresh air, smiling faces, dogs charging about and beautiful glimpses of the natural world. It was a hugely relaxing and a truly Hoogly way to spend a day!

In the next couple of days, I experienced a number of small, Cornish villages, which offered a glorious sense of community, character and charm. I paid a visit to Padstow, a stunning fishing port near the Camel River. With sandy beaches, water-sports, ferries to nearby attractions and a stunning boat-filled port, there was no shortage of things to see and do. I sampled some local fudge, spotted chef Rick Stein’s local restaurant, delighted in the local craft and gift shops and had a traditional Cornish pasty that knocked my socks off!

From Padstow, I travelled to Boscastle, a hugely attractive medieval harbour and village tucked away in a steep valley. Some of the cottages that line the small stream that runs through the village date back to the 15th century. Boscastle marked the beginning of a mini paranormal tour of Cornwall at the local witchcraft museum, which was full of fascinating stories, artefacts and models that explained the history of witches, the persecution they’d received, and how witchcraft and nature are intertwined.

Things really started to go bump in the night at the famous Jamaica Inn, a pub and hotel located in the romantic wilderness of Bodmin Moor, made famous by Daphne Du Maurier’s novel, and now one of Britain’s most haunted places! A three-course meal was followed by a paranormal investigation as guests were invited to visit haunted rooms—in the dark—and test out ghost hunting equipment such as EVP (electronic voice phenomenon) recorders, temperature gauges and electromagnetic sensors that detected movement. Needless to say, there were a lot of creepy moments, unexplained noises and loud bangs that made me scream! The tour was completed at the atmospheric Bodmin Jail, another famously haunted site, where I was given a talk on the history and workings of the prison—the site of numerous executions—and told about various ghost and spirit sightings. At one point the tour group heard what sounded like a child’s rattle coming from one of the empty cells. This was more than enough for me: I chickened out of the overnight investigation and decided I’d done enough hard time for one evening!

On the journey back, I visited the Somerset town of Cheddar, and Cheddar Gorge. The little town was full of lovely craft shops and tea rooms, leading up a hill to the Gorge itself, a set of caves discovered in the in the early 20th century. Inside there are vast caverns and openings filled with limestone in all sorts of beautiful contortions, having been eroded and shaped over hundreds of thousands of years. It was in these caves that ‘The Cheddar Man’ was discovered—Britain’s oldest complete human skeleton, dated to the Mesolithic period some 9000 years ago! His remains are now in the Natural History Museum, but a replica is still there, and it gives you a sense of awe at the vast age of these caves, and the excitement the first explorers must have felt as they came across wonder after wonder: crystal clear rock pools, undulating ‘waterfalls’ of limestone, stalactites and stalagmites, and crevices in the rock’s ceiling that shoot up for hundreds of feet. The caves are now used to ripen the famous Cheddar cheese, giving it its distinct and delicious flavour. Once back in daylight, I went to a local shop and bought enough cheese to see me through an apocalypse, and made my way home a very happy bunny!

So, Hoogly lovers, if you want a lovely ‘stay-cation’ that couldn’t be more Hoogly, head South and West and keep on going! And when you get there, be sure to start and end each day with a relaxing Hoogly Tea, crafted to create cosiness, tranquillity and mindfulness in everything that you do! And at Hoogly, we’re all about treating yourself to the best things in life. So, if you fancy a Cornish Pasty and ice cream to accompany your tea, I can assure you they are the best in the country!

Written by Chris Bedford!








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Tea Lions on Our Shirt!

Tea Lions on Our Shirt!

Prepare yourselves, people—this summer, the beautiful game is back in its most beautiful incarnation—the fantastic festival of football that is the World Cup! Yes, Russia 2018 is soon upon us—can you believe it’s been four years already? Four years since England finished bottom of their group after defeats to Italy and Uruguay. Four years since we last huddled in front of the television with a knotted mix of optimism and anxiety in our bellies. And two years since we were knocked out of another major tournament by Iceland…population 334, 252. Urgh, I thought I’d buried that memory…

Still, it’s not good to dwell on the past. Because quite frankly there’s a lot of dwelling to be done. We were last victorious in 1966, of course, and it hasn’t looked much like changing, despite a rousing semi-final appearance in 1990, complete with Lineker’s heroics and Gazza’s tears. This year we approach the tournament with a little less buzz, a little less chest-thumping belief. We’ve been humbled before—oh, how we’ve been humbled—and now England march to Russia not under the banner of potential favourites, but as maverick outsiders, a team of mostly young and upcoming starlets, many of which have never played tournament football. We don’t know what to expect from this squad, but we do know that youth and inexperience can often go hand-in-hand with courageous abandon, burning enthusiasm, and bags and bags of energy and pace! With the likes of Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lindgard, Deli Ali and Harry Kane, we have a core of young players who can compete with and scare any and all opposition. Personally, I’m betting on a semi-final place at least. But, of course, I say that every year…

But what makes a World Cup winning team? Most footy fans will tell you the same thing: it’s about the perfect balance of flair, technical ability, strength in defence and a potent goal threat. Well, and a bit of luck, of course. England’s ’66 team has these qualities in abundance: Gordon Banks in goal, athletic and graceful. Bobby Moore, elegant and solid at the back. Bobby Charlton, a goal machine and driving force from midfield. And Geoff Hurst—hattrick hero in the final—a constant threat to the opposition’s goal. It’s the same for all the great teams. Brazil in 1970, Germany in 1990, Spain in 2010. A blend of silky and smooth with rough and ready, devastating pace with patience and guile, mouth-watering skill with savvy experience. 

And speaking of perfect balances…Hoogly Tea is the ideal accompaniment to your 2018 World Cup matchday, a winning combination of classic and comforting brews, with exotic and undiscovered tastes from around the world!

Here’s a brief rundown of our squad for 2018: For traditionalists, we have delicious English Breakfast and Earl Grey teas—our relaxing riffs on cherished favourites—the perfect beginning, middle or end to any day! For those seeking a little bit of decadence to celebrate a victory or mitigate against defeat, then why not try chocolate brownie black tea, a rich and indulgent brew that caters to your naughty side! For those seeking something to broaden their tea-drinking experience, why not try Danish Pastry Rooibos, which has a seductive warming chocolate and cinnamon aroma with a subtle pastry taste. Or how about Spiced Orange herbal infusion…a zesty summer taste sensation, combining fruit and mulled spices that will thrill your taste buds?!

Whoever you are supporting this summer (Hoogly founder Tina hopes it is Denmark!) make sure you flip the kettle on and calm your nerves with a mug of beautiful Hoogly Tea. If you give us a go in 2018, there is only one winner…and that’s you!

Written by Chris Bedford.

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The Hunt For Hoogly!

The Hunt For Hoogly!

Believe it or not, the weather will eventually warm up and Spring can begin in earnest. One of the most highly anticipated events in the coming weeks is Easter, a time for family bonding, gift giving and relaxation.  It’s also a time to indulge in serious amounts of chocolate, as shops are stacked floor to ceiling with our favourite brands in egg form. And there is something extra exciting about finding chocolate within chocolate, with some eggs containing bonus treats!

Easter celebrations take place around the globe, but not all cultures refer to it by the same name. Early Christians knew it as Pesach, the Hebrew for Passover; and today many languages use a variation of this word: Pesach in French, Pasqua in Italian and Pask in Sweden. In Christian tradition, Easter Sunday celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day after his crucifixion, but the historical roots of contemporary festival practices are more widespread.

The origin of the English word is that of a pagan fertility goddess called Eostre, whose celebratory festival always took place during the Spring Equinox. Early European Christian missionaries slowly began to merge the pagan names, timings and some of its symbols into the Christian celebrations. Eostre’s symbol, in fact, was that of a hare or rabbit, thus creating one link to the Easter Bunny! Rabbits also tend to give birth in Spring, so as people saw fields overrun with baby bunnies at this time of year, it was natural to incorporate them into the celebrations, and eventually into Easter.

 And the tradition of eggs goes back even further than the time of Jesus. Many ancient cultures, including the Egyptians and Greeks, viewed the egg as a symbol of fertility and renewed life. Eggs were used in pagan rituals, hung in temples and utilised for mystical practices. As missionaries observed people hunting for eggs in Spring, they began to assign value and meaning to the eggs to describe Christ’s resurrection and renewed life. Eggs would be dyed symbolically: yellow for resurrection, red for the blood of Christ, blue for love. Children would hunt for hidden eggs, and then recount the story associated with them. 

Nowadays, Easter is big business around the world, especially in America, where spending at Easter can reach up to the tens of billions through a mixture of cards, candy and other gifts. This year, make sure you incorporate the gift of Hoogly into your celebrations! Our delicious teas are the perfect accompaniment to your relaxing, family-orientated holiday, created with the Danish concept of Hygge in mind, which focuses on being calm, cosy and enjoying life’s simple pleasures. 

And one of life’s greatest simple pleasures is flipping the kettle on and putting your feet up with a warming brew, surrounded by your favourite people. We at Hoogly can take this simple pleasure to another level with our tantalising range of tasty teas. As Easter approaches, put the stresses of the working week behind you with brews such as Cosy Chamomile, a gorgeous herbal infusion combining snuggly chamomile with lemon verbena, lime leaves and lavender, all especially chosen for their ability to soothe the body and mind. It’s a hug-in-a-mug—what are you waiting for?

If hunting for hidden eggs and other treasure is your thing, then track down and discover Sparkling White Tea!! A magical and elegant blend of Chinese White Tea, fruit pieces and flowers, this sensationally seductive brew will add a touch of glamour to your Easter break!  As with all our teas, it smells as delightful as it tastes, bringing you back again and again to experience its charms!

However you spend this Easter, we hope you feel relaxed, renewed and recharged. And don’t forget to hunt down Hoogly!

By Chris Bedford
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